It's almost too easy piling on Mitt Romney's foul comments from yesterday, but hey, I'll do it. It's amazing that he can think of government programs to expand opportunity as "gifts." As a friend of mine wrote yesterday, in other circles, like most of America, as ways to help people better their lives.
It's nice that Bobby Jindal laid into him, but honestly: among rank and file conservatives, what percentage do we reckon agrees with Romney, and what percentage with Jindal? Romney was articulating a longstanding conservative view of government clientelism. It was an argument made against Social Security in the 1930s, Medicare in the 1960s, the Clinton health plan in the 1990s, and Obamacare today.
Romney's words are straight out of Martin, Barton, and Fish, or Albert Jay Nock, the noted libertarian anti-New Dealer. There is no ability to see that these programs might help people; only that they were created cynically for the purpose of getting their votes and, by implication, turning them into slaves of the states:
You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge. Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.
No ability also to see that working-class people being able to get preventive care for a change, or children going to college, has moral and economic benefits for the rest of us. So he really is a right-winger. He was just pretending in Massachusetts. Now we know beyond doubt.
Jindal was speaking in the old Jack Kemp vein, and it was politically shrewd of him. And maybe genuine--it appears that the reporter who asked him about Romney's remarks was at the same time alerting him to them, so maybe he actually said what he really thinks.
But his party's heart isn't in winning over these normally Democratic clients. And there's another problem, too. The Kemp/Jindal sales pitch is, "We'll show you--our free-market solutions will address your needs!" But if that were the case, the free market would have addressed them already. It has not. That's why government exists and does good things, and it's why these folks are Democrats. They're not stupid.
So fly, fly away now, Mitt. But don't anyone make the error of ascribing the views he expressed solely to him.