"I spoke with a fireman yesterday, and he has a one-bedroom apartment, and his wife is pregnant, and he can't afford a second bedroom," he said, referring to a visit to New York City. "I asked the firefighters I was meeting with, about 15 or them, how many had had to take another job to make ends meet, and almost every one of them had."You'd think, to read that, that Romney was suggesting he thinks that's a less than ideal situation, firefighters having to work two jobs or unable to afford a two-bedroom apartment. But while that may have been his implication in that moment, Jonathan Chait flags a quote from Romney's stump speech that reflects his policy positions on how many bedrooms firemen should be able to afford: that "we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve."
The unfairness he's talking about, of course, isn't the unfairness of a quarter of workers earning less than two-thirds of the median income, or low-wage workers becoming an older and more educated group. He's certainly not talking about the unfairness of taxpayers paying a higher tax rate than he does on less annual income than he earns in a day. These are all unfair—and all things Mitt Romney's policies would increase. No, the thing that's unfair to him is that the public sector has lagged somewhat in the race to the bottom. Stories about firefighters with pregnant wives are just a lame attempt at window-dressing on his real position, the one all his policy proposals promote.
I wonder if he told those firefighters how unfairly overpaid he thinks they are.