Romney economic adviser and American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Kevin Hassett wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal criticizing those concerned with the growing gap between the rich and the poor because many low income households own basic appliances, such as microwaves.
Today we hear that the gains from economic growth accrue to the highest-income earners while the standard of living of the poor and middle America stagnates and the gap between the richest and the poorest grows ever wider.That portrait of the country is wrong:
Yet the access of low-income Americans—those earning less than $20,000 in real 2009 dollars—to devices that are part of the “good life” has increased. The percentage of low-income households with a computer rose to 47.7% from 19.8% in 2001. The percentage of low-income homes with six or more rooms (excluding bathrooms) rose to 30% from 21.9% over the same period.
Appliances? The percentage of low-income homes with air-conditioning equipment rose to 83.5% from 65.8%, with dishwashers to 30.8% from 17.6%, with a washing machine to 62.4% from 57.2%, and with a clothes dryer to 56.5% from 44.9%.
The percentage of low-income households with microwave ovens grew to 92.4% from 74.9% between 2001 and 2009. Fully 75.5% of low-income Americans now have a cell phone, and over a quarter of those have access to the Internet through their phones.
Hassett’s views echo those of Mitt Romney, who has criticized Americans concerned with inequality as being driven by “envy,” and said that discussions about the topic do not belong in public, but instead be reserved for “quiet rooms.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, during an interview on NBC’s “Today Show,” Romney was asked by Matt Lauer,
Are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as envy, though?
After Romney said questions about wall street and the distribution of wealth were driven by envy. Romney responded, saying
You know I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like. But the president has made this part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it’ll fail.
Still further evidence, as if we needed it, that Romney is COMPLETELY out of touch with the “everyday Joe” he tries so desperately to equate himself to. Your are “wealthy” if you own a microwave. You are Romney when you own a minority person to run the microwave for you.
I have a microwave, an oven and washing machine. I am the 1%.
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