Inside Opinion

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Tag: poverty


Poor? What poor? U.S. politics play to middle class

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Mitt Romney doesn’t care about “the very poor”? He’s not alone.

Romney’s point – as he hurried to emphasize Wednesday after his awkward phrase popped out on CNN – was that the poorest Americans have a safety net while middle-class Americans are “struggling.”

His real sin was saying out loud what campaign strategists from both parties know: In American politics, it’s all about the middle. That’s true for the nation. By and large, it’s true for Washington state.

The middle class is where the votes are. People who want to win elections know that pandering to the broad socioeconomic center is how it’s done. Republicans tend to favor tax cuts; Democrats tend to want to sweeten entitlements for middle-income Americans. The poor can be an afterthought, if that.

The Republican Party since its inception has looked out for business and the financial sector. Fine: A free and dynamic economy needs champions of investment and private job-creation. Jobs – the best antidote to poverty – are byproducts of business expansion.

But many Americans get left behind, including people with disabilities and children who grow up in scary places with few opportunities. Too often, their problems are simply not on the conservative radar screen.
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Long on troubles, short on political clout in Olympia

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

On Thanksgiving Day, the decomposed body of a homeless person was found under an overpass in Thurston County near Interstate 5. Dying alone and out of sight is one of the ugly faces of homelessness.

Many of the chronically homeless are mentally ill. When the state economizes on the treatment of psychiatric disorders, sick people wind up on the sidewalks, in doorways and under bridges.

Some of the mentally ill – a small percentage, but too many – erupt in violence in the absence of case management and medications.

The man accused of a fatal hatchet attack on Seattle’s Capitol Hill a week ago heard voices and suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. He wasn’t taking his prescribed medications and, all too obviously, needed better tracking and care.

Similarly, a woman suspected of an unprovoked shooting in the Skyway area last week is believed to suffer from extreme paranoia.
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