Mitt Romney's Middle Class Mistake

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

In trying to deflect Democratic criticism and charges that his proposed tax plan would result in a $2,000 tax hike on middle class families, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney played right into another narrative about him crafted by President Obama’s supporters.

Speaking with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Romney asserted, “No one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is [to] keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers." Unfortunately for Romney, no one told him what actually constitutes middle-income. When asked by Stephanopoulos if $100,000 was middle-income, Romney responded with, “No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less.”

A bevy of boos and hisses have since followed.

The Romney campaign would go on to clarify that the former Massachusetts governor was referencing household income, not individual income. That, however, is still wrong as the median household income in this country is close to $51,000. But while Mitt’s latest questionable statement may have done much in the way of convincing voters that he’s nothing more than a politically ambitious version of Thurston Howell III, he is arguably not the only politician who holds that view of income.

As The American Prospect’s Jamelle Bouie notes, “For the last two years, Democrats have defended ‘middle class’ tax cuts that apply to all income under $250,000.”

Though President Obama has never specifically declared those making between $200,000 and $250,000” as “middle-income,” some have wondered if his tax policy does for him.

Much of this is semantics, though, and the reason Romney’s remarks earned headlines has more to do with perception than any particular policy.

Bless his heart, though, because he’s trying to convince the masses otherwise.

Mitt Romney’s latest attempt to relate to the common American is through commenting on pop culture during a taped an interview with Live! With Kelly and Michael. Joined by his wife, Ann “We, The Children of Politicians Know Your Struggles Because We Once Had To Eat Pasta and Tuna” Romney, Mitt was asked the super hard question, “Honey Boo Boo or Snookie?”

Mitt said, “I'm kind of a Snooki fan. Look how tiny's she's gotten. She's lost weight. She's energetic. Just her spark-plug personality is kind of fun.” A part of me feels like Mitt Romney only heard of Snooki a week ago, but I don’t know his heart or channel guide, just that he can certainly afford cable.

As for his guilty pleasure, Romney revealed, “Uh, peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate milk.”

These questions point to American voters and their insatiable need for their elected officials to be “relatable.”

But if anyone wants to know whether or not Mitt Romney gets most Americans, there are better examples than a misstep on what he thinks is middle-income or his mundane view of the phrase “guilty pleasure.”

At the core of Mitt Romney’s comments in the now infamous ABC News interview is that he doesn’t want to raise federal taxes, though the benefits will be far sweeter for those at the top of the economic totem pole and he doesn’t explain how he will pay down the deficit without generating new revenue.

That, in essence is a bit of déjà vu from the Bush administration and we already know where that road leads.

On top of that, as poverty levels reach historic highs, Romney wants to gut the safety net programs like unemployment benefits and food stamps that have kept millions of families from falling into poverty.

This latest story may seem like a “gotcha” moment in making the argument that Mitt Romney lives in alternate universe, but it honestly doesn’t make much of a difference.

He had long proved his critics right anyway.

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick