January 25th, 2010
11:36 AM ET
13 years ago

South Carolina Lt. Gov. compares poor to 'stray animals'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/26/andrebauer.jpg caption="South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer is running for governor this year."](CNN) – South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer isn't backing away from controversial remarks he made over the weekend comparing needy people to "stray animals."

Bauer, who is one of several candidates seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said Friday that providing government food assistance to lower-income residents - things like food stamps or free school lunches - encourages a culture of dependence.

"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals," Bauer told an audience in the town of Fountain Inn, according to the Greenville News. "You know why? Because they breed."

"You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply," Bauer continued. "They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."

Bauer said recipients of government assistance should undergo drug testing or be forced to attend parent-teacher conferences, or else lose their benefits.

His comments drew rebukes from rival candidates in both parties along with political and community leaders around the state. Responding to the uproar, Bauer told South Carolina reporters over the weekend that he could have chosen his words more carefully.

But he stood by his basic premise.

"Yes, I believe government is 'breeding a culture of dependency' which has grown out of control, and frankly, amounts to little more than socialism, paid for by hard-working, tax-paying families … against their wishes," Bauer said in an e-mail to supporters on Sunday.

Bauer wrote that the government has an obligation to help people in need, but, he said, "there's a big difference between being truly needy and truly lazy."

"We must find ways to instill some sense of responsibility or consequence into those who are now a part of the cycle of automatic hand-outs," he said in the e-mail. "Generational welfare is bad for the people on it and bad for the state of South Carolina."

Filed under: 2010 • Andre Bauer • South Carolina
soundoff (308 Responses)
  1. Michael in Houston

    geez pal.....nothing looks worse or weaker then a grown man kicking a kitten. Whats next on your agenda....going into the schools and yanking food trays from 3rd graders?

    Your right about one thing though.....we have alot of problems in this country and frankly your kind is one of the biggies.

    January 25, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. granpa

    What is it with people/elected officials in South Carolina?? What is really going on in that state?? I'm going to drive through there this summer, I just have to stop and take it all in for myself...Disgusting!

    January 25, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  3. Irma in North Carolina

    His mother should of drowned him when he was a pup.

    January 25, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. Are you kidding me?

    I think A Mom of 4 said it best!!

    January 25, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. File under "Sarcasm"

    It may have been said by a Republican, but it states how the Democrats view the people as an unwashed, unproductive mass that must be cared for by handouts from entitlement programs that create a dependency and a vote for their continuation despite the cost to the taxpayer.

    January 25, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Let them heal to death, let them starve to death; thats alway been the republicans mantra; I don't see any surprises here' what i'm surprise about is how we forget that too soon and till vote for ANY republican..go figure...

    January 25, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  7. Max

    It is a red state and as South Carolina Lt. Gov. Bauer could have led the way in welfare reform in his state, but he didn't. Bauer knows that South Carilina is one of the poorest states and gets more federal funds than most other states for medical care, perhaps if this crybaby refused the funding of our federal atx dollars he would have just a little credibility instead of POS.

    January 25, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  8. Ravi

    People need to stop the anti-Southern bigoted remarks. If this guy was from NY or CA, no one would dare criticize him. I'm sure there are a lot of good Southern Whites out there, so stop stereotyping!

    January 25, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    He's blunt, but has a good point...

    January 25, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Tim

    What an insult, to the stray animals.

    January 25, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  11. Just Saying

    DOG1 January 25th, 2010 11:58 am ET

    "On the other hand, how come poverty has worsened in the past 40 years despite Johnson's Great Society, Kennedy's New Era, Carter's
    whatever he called it, Clinton's whatever he called it, and the TRILLIONS we've spent on this subject ?"

    Because the right wing (supposed Christians) have always made sure that the focus of this country is corporate profit no matter what. That means decent wages, proper health care and anything that will help prevent poverty are shoved aside. This country is nearly bankrupt not because of trying to help our own but because of wasting our taxes to do things like fighting wars, not for our security but to protect "american interests" in order to further that corporate profit!


    January 25, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  12. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    God helps them who help themselves. It's not the job of the state to provide a lifestyle for those who refuse to even look for work or come here illegally and feel entitled to get free money and a platterful of benefits.

    Remember who is paying for it...It is you, the taxpaying workers!!!

    January 25, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  13. russell

    At the rate that this country is going , in a few years it will be another third world country , now for some of you who seem to think people may need help in their lifetime , I hope that the one's that are insensitve lose everything , job , family , house and car , just so you can go and grovel for handouts , that way you can see how people got by with government assistants .........AMERICA THE WEAKEST LINK IN THIS WORLD......

    January 25, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  14. Rafiu

    The metaphor is simply idiotic....Statistics have shown that majority of the families that depend on benefits are not on that scale by choice..How on earth can you compare human beings to stray animals....So sad!

    January 25, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  15. WrongKindofChange

    I do think there is a real problem with people who live off the government. There seems to be no incentive for these people to get of their lazy butts and earn their own living. The fact that people who are on medicaid go to the emergency room on average of 14 times a year is pretty telling. It's easy to abuse the system when you aren't paying for it. My family and I won't go to the emergency room unless it's an emergency, then again, I pay for my own healthcare and the cost of an emergency visit is too much, so I'll wait to see a doctor at a clinic the next day so it won't cost me as much.

    Throughout high school I bagged groceries at a local store and I got tired of watching people come in and buy steak, shrimp, and the most expensive foods while paying for it with food stamps, when my own family who worked hard for what we had, couldn't afford such foods because we had learned to live within our means.

    I understand people need assistance at times and I also believe we should help those that need it. However, I also believe that our system benefits the lazy who chose to remain lazy and allow others to work fot them. Our system create laziness. Why not have a welfare program that makes people work, if they are physically able to, for their benefits. We have a lot of streets and cities that can be cleaned of garbage.

    A system that allows people to earn their benefits will help them to feel good about themselves and teaches a valuable lesson that nothing is free in life.

    January 25, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. matt

    If someone is to lazy and doesn't want to work let them starve I don't care he or she shouldn't be at home collecting a free check

    January 25, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  17. tag

    hey...the truth hurts!. get over it all you lazy people receiving hand outs and go to work like the rest of the hard working taxpayers. i strongly agree with the attorney general....he speaks the truth!

    January 25, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. Bob

    Yes, it was a poor choice of words however, his underlying message is correct. We have become an entitlement society where many feel that they can just demand anything from the government and it will be given. People need to be more self-reliant and independent. The government would be better serving if they would just help people get jobs and job training instead of just feeding them money.

    January 25, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  19. Janet

    For those who try to put Christianity into this discussion. Nowhere does it say that Jesus expected a governing body to help the poor. That has to be the decision of the individual. So stop trying to claim that welfare or other government assistance is the Christian thing.
    The truth is that we are rapidly becoming a nation of people who want charity to begin not at home, but at the government level. The problem is that once you do that, it costs more and is less effective. If you think that you are responsible for someone else, then step up and give them what they need. It you want to call it Christianity, they let the churches adopt needy families and pay for their needs. The honest, Christian thing to do is to help those in need without paying government administration fees.

    January 25, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  20. Kim

    I am embarrassed to admit I am from South Carolina. Every time I see we are in the news again, I want to cry. It's never anything good. However I can assure you that if any of our politicians had to apply their talents and intellect to make an honest living, they would definitely be receiving the government assistance they now scorn. Let's just hope they don't reproduce.

    January 25, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  21. Brian

    To all the conservatives who use the argument 'welfare breeds welfare' and seem to have zero trust in people's senses of honor and work ethic here's some quotes for you:

    1) Terrible education options breed welfare.

    2) Lack of adequate healthcare breeds welfare.

    3) Downturned economies breed welfare.

    All of those factors contribute to children growing up without the opportunites that our venerable Lt. Gov. probably had as a child. I'm not saying that people are not to blame sometimes for their lots in life, but until every child in a welfare family has both an education system that doesn't abandon them and healthy habits from making fitness and health a priority in their everyday lives, the cycle of poverty will continue.

    Instead of yelling at people and proclaiming your own self-righteousness, be generous. Make fixing a bad education system a priority. Extend a hand to set a high bar of expectation for all of our schools, not just the ones your kids go to. That means a lot of time investment, reform, and yes probably a lot of money investment.

    When those opportunities are there, then you can get on your high horse and shout holier-than-thou slogans and ridicule people who will never have the quality of life you enjoy. Never mind, don't do that. That's pitiful.

    January 25, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  22. Andrew

    Well if you look at unemployment at 10% that means we need to cull that 10% of the population that our economy cannot support.

    January 25, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  23. Vicki

    Sad to say but he is correct.

    If you are always given money/food/shelter you never learn to take care of yourself. Welfare should be a helping measure NOT a way of life.

    Another way of putting it would be to say you couldn't put a domestic animal (cat/dog) out into the wild because they don't know how to fend for themselves.

    I've always thought welfare should include schooling, not college but trade school. We could get them trained in a field & out into the working world. Once there, they will no longer be eligible for welfare, EVER... if they lose their job, unemployment... just like the rest of us.

    January 25, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  24. Dee


    The total number of individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in South Carolina decreased from 35,653 in March 2007 to 32,399 in March 2008, a decrease of 9.1%.

    The number of families receiving TANF in March 2008 was 14,519, a 7.2% decrease from March 2007.

    In 2007, South Carolina collected and distributed $242,819,338 in child support funds, a 0.2% of decrease from 2006.

    In 2006, South Carolina spent $211,286,443 for child welfare services. Child welfare services are all direct and administrative services the state agency provides to children and families. Of this amount, 78% was from federal funds, 20% from state funds, and 2.1% from local funds.

    January 25, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. Royster

    Next Bauer will be calling to load all needy people into boats and float them towards Cuba!

    If America had tons of extra jobs; we might give these comments some small form of credence. But since there are 6 1/2 people currently applying for every open job right now, how can these comments have ANY crdedence??

    I wonder if anyone agreeing with Bauer in this blog is unemployed at the moment? It is sooo easy (and cowardly) to "agree" with an idiotic point of view when the consequences don't affect you personally.

    January 25, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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