Senator David Vitter (R-LA) is making news again with his comments at an East Baton Rouge Parish town hall meeting on Thursday. During a discussion on the Affordable Care Act, Vitter accused Americans in favor of the Affordable Care Act of being leeches on the government, and said he would support a federal government shutdown rather than agree to pay for Obamacare.
After audience member Bill Morgan asked Vitter, “Why can’t we repeal Obamacare?” and proceeded to talk about government spending, Vitter responded:
“I wish you were right that nobody wants Obamacare; that’s not true. And in fact, the other side, who absolutely wants it, most of whom are getting something for nothing, came out in droves in the last election and our side sat at home.”
There are many inferences that could be made from Vitter’s statement, all of which are offensive. But it is reasonable to say that he called the majority of those who support the Affordable Care Act freeloaders living off the government. Freeloaders who “came out in droves” last election to support President Obama, while all the intelligent, hardworking, non-mooching conservatives stayed at home, evidently.
As with Mitt Romney, who said that 47 percent of Americans “believe they are entitled to health care, to housing, to you name it,” and that those same people don’t “take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Vitter’s comment is pretty shocking and misguided.
But comments like these by Republican senators tend to become a rallying cry for some conservatives, many of whom end up voting against programs that would actually benefit them. And according to PEW Research Center statistics, only 40 percent of Republicans today feel that government has a responsibility to help those who are struggling, compared with 62 percent during President Reagan’s second term.
Interestingly, in the state of Louisiana alone, 914,186 people, or 20 percent of the state’s population, receive food stamps – the second largest percentage after Mississippi. And, in the 2012 presidential election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney won 213 of 254 counties where food stamp recipients doubled between 2007 and 2011, according to a Bloomberg analysis.
Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.