Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thom Tillis, class warrior

North Carolina's Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis' recently had this to say to a Madison County audience about poor families on public assistance.
By gosh, we come back in 2013 ... I don't know if we'll go as far as Florida, but if you're receiving government assistance and every once in a while we want to do random drug tests, done on a fair basis, I think we should do it.

When you go in and you see a woman in a wheel chair, she's from here, she's from Asheville who's on the brink of losing her benefits and you know that Health and Human Services are sending checks to a woman who has chosen to have three or four kids out of wedlock, then at some point you need to say "first kid, we'll give you a pass; second, third, fourth kid, you're on your own."

And start, say what we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance. We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition, that needs help, and we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government, and say, at some point, you’re on your own.
Rep. Tillis now claims that he made a "poor choice of words," but the entire statement was of a piece. Moreover, the statements that we need to drug test, "divide and conquer," and "look down at" poor people" were just some of the appalling comments that Rep. Tillis offered.

In the same talk, Rep. Tillis made these observations and policy prescriptions for the unemployed and work-disabled.
Folks, I don't know if any of you are out of work or have ever been out of work. Nobody spends 50 hours a week looking for a job. Now they may spend 50 hours a week thinking about looking for a job, and then they may go and apply, and then they may go and do an interview. My guess is that every single person who is out of work over a seven-day period has 10-15 hours they can give back to the community. And if they're an out-of-work teacher, that's a mentor in a school. If they're out-of-work healthcare provider, it is volunteering and having their time recorded in a health care clinic where they're certified and they can provide services. And if you're going to get government assistance, we know you have that time, and we think you ought to do it.

...I feel very strongly that, there, that, the, that people need to have that responsibility and that sense of obligation for if you're getting... We give people 99 weeks of unemployment benefits in this state, 99 weeks. And quite honestly if you're on workers comp, you may not be able to do the job that was physically demanding but you may be able to sit somewhere and be a mentor to somebody or something else. It's just giving people some sense of being more productive. That's how, that's how we become more competitive and more productive as a country.
Those lazy teachers and public health care providers that Rep. Tillis and his colleagues just fired, they're not really looking for work ("nobody spends 50 hours looking for a job"), and they need to pay us back for all the free time that they've been given. That lady from Asheville in the wheelchair, well, she can just "sit somewhere and be a mentor." "Every single person who is out of work has 10-15 hours (a week) they can give back to the community" and effectively pay back the rest of us who are lucky enough to still have jobs.

In Rep. Tillis' eyes, many of the poor--single mothers, the unemployed, the injured--are f***ing moochers who not only deserve every bit of misfortune that have received but also owe the rest of us for the meager crumbs that we, through the government, have thrown their way.

And Rep. Tillis has promised that when he and his reactionaries "come back in 2013," they'll be after those last few crumbs.