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. Enough is Enought

    Economics 101 when you subsidize something you get more of it. Give everyone on public assistance a thousand dollars if they agree to get their tubes tied we would save billions.

    January 25, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  2. Doug

    Comments on the board make me sad that these people are fellow Americans. Love and kindness should not be reserved to those who are rich, but should be given to all.

    January 25, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Helene

    Could he be a more heartless racist?

    January 25, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. William

    I feel like people here are making up facts right and left to back up their self-serving positions.

    It's nice to think of the poor as a bunch of lazy slobs who sit on futons eating bonbons and watching Oprah. Actually evidence says "no":

    "Twenty-eight percent of American families with one or both parents employed are living in poverty, according to a report of data from 2004 through 2006 gathered from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    The report finds that 9.6 million households can be described as low-income or "working poor." More than 21 million children now live in low-income working families."

    "These families struggle under poverty conditions despite parents working long hours. According to the report, "Adults in low-income working families worked on average 2,552 hours per year in 2006, the equivalent of almost one-and-a-quarter full-time workers."

    The truth is that those "stray dogs" work 33% harder than most Americans, and, perhaps more importantly, their children suffer with them. (That may be a lot more than can be said for many of the people who conveniently find time to read Political Ticker articles at noon on a Monday.)

    Most of the people on welfare don't turn to it as an easy out; in fact, most are laid-off or unemployed workers fully out of options. They've paid in for years, just like you. And a lot were born into poor families in institutionalized poverty (inner-city ghettos) with poor education, dangerous neighborhoods, dysfunctional city governments, and generally unreasonably uphill battles to be fought to get out. It's hard to put yourself through college when your middle school (and parents) can't teach you how to read.

    Second, the government isn't coddling welfare recipients. Federal law limits aid to two years (remember welfare reform?), and food stamps buy the absolute essentials. The Dom Perignon (or even the Diet Coke) isn't flowing freely off the government's dime.

    So why all the smug poor-bashing? The biggest reason: fear. Some of the critical commenters on this article may be wealthy and truly resent those who can't earn like they did (and deny that growing up poor, especially in the city, creates impediments to success). But it seems fair to guess that a lot of people here are working class, only a couple missed paychecks or a layoff away from needing financial assistance.

    In your own minds, you dehumanize the relatively few poor in this country as a way of denying the fact that you yourselves are a lot like them, and that you could easily find yourselves in their position. Better to pretend their entirely different than you, and entirely responsible for their own misfortune, that to admit the terrifying thought that you, through no real fault of your own, could be next.

    So, if it makes you feel better, scapegoat away!

    January 25, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. I'll take coffee thank you

    Hello! It's a myth that ALL people on welfare are lazy and just want to live off of the tax payer's money. There may be a few for sure, but that's not the majority. When someone looses their job and there are no other resources available to them, what do you expect them to do?
    I'm curious about what charities, if any, some of you all contirbute to. Or are you the typical Repug who thinks "I've got mine, so the @!# with the rest of you"

    January 25, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Sam

    CNN, you really need to speed up your moderators....

    This is sick. you know how much extra money a woman on welfare gets if she has another child? About $84 a month. That's right, $84 a month. YOU try raising a kid on $84 a month. That's less than $1000 a year. Oh yeah, I'm SO SURE women are lining just to have more babies to feed for that extra $84 a month.

    In state after state after state where they ended welfare increases for new children, you know what happened? The welfare pregnancy rate DIDN'T CHANGE! Women don't have kids just to get more money, it's a LIE perpetrated by the right as part of their war on the poor!

    And you know what happened to the poverty rate in states where welfare was time-limited? It GOT WORSE! That's right, WORSE! Why? Because 80+% of people on welfare CAN NOT WORK! It's not that they won't work, it's that they can't. Yes, we can find plenty of stores of the a–holes who abuse the system, but they're the MINORITY. Welfare SAVES LIVES, PREVENTS POVERTY, and makes us all BETTER PEOPLE.

    But God forbid you give up a couple dollars of your "hard-earned" money to help people who CAN'T help themselves. I'm sure Jesus would be just as upset about it as you are....

    January 25, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. craig

    This is why South Carolina ranks last or next to last in every major statistic.

    January 25, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. BoSheck

    I'm surprised he didn't just out and out propose a state-sponsored eugenics program.

    January 25, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. vince

    Not unexpected coming from a S.Carolina politician.

    January 25, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. elena

    This guy is right on the money !!! I find alot of stray animals, take them to the vet, get them their shots, spay them and then find a good home for them. I would rather feed animals then the leeches that are draining our country of EVERYTHING. My husband and I work 10 hrs. a day to provide for our family. I had as many children that I was able to afford. Sending them to college, with no financial aid. I did not have kids first with no money to support them. Democrats feed off the poor, without the poor they would not be needed. This country has become a country of the needy, uneducated and, lazy. No accountability from either man or woman creating these next generations of leeches.

    January 25, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. Diana

    Does this include corporate welfare? They're been sucking on the taxpapers teet for so long and they get more than the average poor person.

    Now that the Supreme Court has decided that a corporation has the same rights as a person, we need to re-educate them so they could become self-sufficient too.

    January 25, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. Tom

    "You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply"
    Sorry, if you don't like how the real world works. But, this is 100% true.

    In the USA, being poor is a choice. If you disagree you are dumb or naive.

    “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”
    -Thomas Jefferson

    "Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”
    -James Madison

    January 25, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. Pragmatic

    With unemployment at 10% – the babbling about "get a job" rings really hollow ... he can't tell the difference between a hand-up & a hand out!

    Notice: South Carolina – again. The same group that believed the lie about John McCain's "black baby" .... old saying that the state is too small to be a country – too big to be an insane asylum!

    January 25, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  14. Pete

    Perhaps the welfare recipients in his state could earn their keep working for the state and the Lt. Gov. could try to find work in the private sector. Then maybe he could see how tough it is to not live off the government.

    January 25, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  15. steve

    I guarantee he will win the election. Americans always vote for the guy against spending tax payers money. Doesn't matter how ignorant the person is (Bush's second win).

    January 25, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. wels4est

    so if we put drug tests in place; what happens when someone fails? Do they get kicked to the gutter? If so, then what? They turn to crime and end up in prison and may even kill someone to get their needs met.

    I suspect the cost to create a drug program to get dogs on drugs off of drugs will cost more than just paying for the drugs in the first place.

    January 25, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. Shirley /Georgia

    We have a ministry that reaches out to the drug addict and prostitute, and also to the very poor. Almost all that we ministry to receive food stamps, wic, etc. Most of them sell there food stamps and WIC and feed there children Ramen Noodles. These children eat if they go to school. When there is holidays they do not eat for days. We must teach them to be responsible and learn to get a job. Our ministry helps train them and we also take them on job interviews. But they have to change their mindset that the world owes them. Yes we all go through hard times and rough spots but we have to choose to stay there or fight our way out. My father was a sharecropper and we were raised very poor. Since being married it has been very hard and my husband and my children have all gotten jobs and second jobs to pull ourselves up. We must teach them to take responsiblity and quit blaming everyone else!

    January 25, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. T'SAH from Virginia

    This country is really showing their TRUE FACE and it is the FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW that is bringing it to the forefront!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For this alone, President Obama has succeeded – The TRUE FACE of AMERICA!!!

    This ASH-HOLE-Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, is not thinking about the MANY military families who's receiving food stamps – NOR is he thinking about the MANY Americans who LOST THEIR JOBS!!!!

    It seems as if ever since "YOU LIE JOE WILSON" emerged, EVERY far-right RepubliCAN'T is showing their 'embedded' hate that they feel can come out now because they THINK most Americans agree with them and their getting a free PASS through the media!!! THINK-AGAIN – Just because you are LOUDER than others does not mean you RULE!!! Case and POINT!!

    January 25, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  19. David

    Why is anyone surprised at these comments? The Republican party stands for screw the little guy while they continue to get richer!!

    It's like the election last week in Massachusetts. Do those folks up there really think that ANY Republican cares abiout them? Do they really think that tyhe lies of McCain and Cornyn and Hatch are goping to p[rotect Medicare recipients? How foolish are you people?!?!?!?

    January 25, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. ChicagoDB

    I compare republicans to heartless 'holes. I wish they wouldn't breed.

    January 25, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. Dave

    Many of you are just WAAAAAAAAAAY to sensitive. Sometimes the truth hurts. What he said is true. Could he have chosen his words better, yes. But who really cares? The bottom line is we have got to stop the handouts. Almost 70% of ALL the tax dollars in this country go to social programs; not the military, or roads & transportation, or NASA, or foriegn aid. It goes to handouts to people. There should be a program or two to help people get back on their feet, but it should be VERY limited. They should all be forced to do drug tests to receive OUR tax dollars. While trying to get a real job, they should be put to work for the state or county. The vast majority can work and do not.

    January 25, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. kmr, WA state

    What do you expect from a political

    January 25, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  23. CHRIS D.

    People are so out of touch.....the welfare generation, is so 60's – 80's...... Even poor people don't want to be on welfrare anymore......Most people use unemployment or public assistance until they get on their feet........Those who abuse the system are losers.....Oddly if you look at all who are on welfare, it is predominantly those who live in rural areas, w/ not much opportunity........And yes statistically more of our white brothers and sisters receive welfare in this country.

    January 25, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. wait a minute

    I agree it's not good to encourage dependency.
    So let's use Public Option to make everyone pay for their medical care with an affordable percentage of their income, instead of Medicaid.

    Replace Medicaid with Public Option and reduce deficits.

    January 25, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  25. Tyler Henderson

    I'd rather associate myself with a poor person than someone as arrogant and heartless as him.

    I do think welfare needs reform but to generalize like he did was uncalled for.

    January 25, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13