In the now-notorious CNN interview, he was quick to explain that the poor are not a priority only because we already “have a safety net.” Perfect: While arming the Left with a luscious sound bite with which to caricature him as a callous vulture capitalist, Romney simultaneously stokes the Right’s fear that he is really a man of the Left — or, at least, a man without a core, who doesn’t get that the welfare state is not the solution but the problem.

Romney being Romney, the first problem panicked him, while the second probably hasn’t even occurred to him — and won’t, unless Gingrich or Santorum surges and a little Tea Party stroking is suddenly in order. So, within hours of the CNN fiasco, Mitt shifted into “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” mode and got jiggy with the minimum wage.

Beloved of the Democrat-academe-media axis, and thus impressed on the craven Republican establishment, the minimum wage is the safety net in small compass. Whatever wage Romney would nominally make the minimum, the actual minimum wage will remain zero. As the Club for Growth’s Chris Chocola countered, the minimum wage is “an absolute job killer.” To appreciate why, read Kevin D. Williamson’s powerful essay, “Keeping Blacks Poor” (NR, February 2010 – linked here): In one fell swoop, this exhibition in government compassion not only prices low-productivity workers out of the labor market but stokes a crisis of permanent joblessness in some of America’s poorest areas.