Politics

Rand Paul Says Food Stamps are Like Slavery

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Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., likened government hunger-fighting programs to slavery today in an article about his medical practice.

“As humans, yeah, we do have an obligation to give people water, to give people food, to give people health care … but it’s not a right because once you conscript people and say, ‘Oh, it’s a right,’ then really you’re in charge, it’s servitude, you’re in charge of me and I’m supposed to do whatever you tell me to do,” Paul said.

Paul has a history of fighting against food stamps. Last year, the senator rallied for an overhaul of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides debit cards to help needy families afford food and is commonly referred to as the food-stamp program. The Senate ultimately rejected his efforts.

In that instance, he cited user fraud claiming that millionaires as well were receiving government aid.

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“Our system of helping ensure that no one goes hungry in our country is a noble one, but we’re now asking to spend $750 billion on food stamps … When we ask this, we need to remember that recently a woman in Chicago faked the birth of triplets in order to receive $21,000 in food stamps,” Paul said.

Despite several isolated fraud cases that have made headlines, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that the SNAP system is more accurate now than ever, and that SNAP has boosted the economy and effectively eased hardship for millions of people — more than one-fourth of whom live in households with disabled or elderly citizens.

In 2011, Paul made another federal aid/servitude analogy when he stated that acknowledging the public right to medical care “means you believe in slavery.”

Despite his aversion to federal aid, Paul does believe in the private market helping the poor. As an ophthalmologist,  he routinely performs free surgeries to the uninsured. Apparently, he feels that other medical professionals will follow suit, and that their charitable efforts will eliminate the need for public health care, though he cites no research to support this.

Sources: Think Progress, The Raw Story, National Review Online, CBPP