Analysis: How Romney's "Gift" Theory Misses the Mark


When asked why they came to the United States 55 percent of Latino immigrants said they came for economic opportunity.

There's also the fact that, during the past decade Hispanic people started businesses at a faster rate than the average American. The number of Hispanic-owned firms jumped by 44 percent between 2002 and 2007, more than twice the national rate of 18 percent during that same period, according to Census data. And in 2007, Hispanic-owned businesses generated $345.2 billion in sales.

At the same time, Latinos are more likely than members of the general public to support a big government that provides more services (75 percent, compared to 41 percent), according to Pew. While the data shows that the community strongly believes in hard work and free enterprise, the average Latino household was hit hardest by the economic recession and they use public assistance programs like Medicaid at a higher rate than the general population.

2. Obamacare

Romney said, "in order to get Hispanic voters, what the president did we would be very reluctant to do … [he] put in place Obamacare which basically is ten thousand dollars a family."

The Affordable Care Act is expected to have a disproportionate impact on the Latino community, but that's because proportionately it has a larger number of uninsured people than the general population. Three in ten Latinos last year lacked health insurance, according to Census data, almost three times the rate of non-Hispanic whites.

The law expands access to healthcare through the individual mandate, which requires that a vast majority of Americans purchase their own health insurance or pay a fine. Subsidies and tax credits are available for people who cannot find affordable private insurance (mostly those who live near or below the federal poverty line). These provisions would not necessarily make health insurance free. That means poor individuals and families would still be responsible for paying some healthcare expenses themselves, but would also receive financial assistance from the government. So it's not exactly a gift, as Romney suggested.

In fact, the reason this would impact Latinos most is because that group's median household income among families in 2011 was $38,624 and their poverty rate was at 25 percent. The overall poverty rate last year was 15 percent and the median household income was $50,054.

In all, the 19-percentage point gap in insurance coverage between non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics could be cut by one quarter because of the law, according to a May 2012 study published in Health Affairs.

3. Immigration

Romney said on the call, "Obama gave them a big gift on immigration with the DREAM Act amnesty program, which was obviously very, very popular with Hispanic voters."

Obama failed to address comprehensive immigration reform during his first term, but he did enact the deferred action program in June 2011 that granted temporary relief to certain young undocumented immigrants.

The program allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 and are younger than 30 the opportunity to apply for a temporary, two-year reprieve from the threat of deportation. In order to qualify, immigrants must also prove to the federal government they have no criminal record, have lived in the U.S. for five consecutive years, are still in school, have graduated from high school or earned a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the military. These individuals can also apply for work permits.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...