In Iowa, Sarah Palin compared the federal debt she says shackles Americans to slavery. [...] "Our free stuff today is being paid for by taking money from our children and borrowing from China," she said at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition's fall fundraiser at the State Fairgrounds Saturday night. "When that money comes due -- and this isn't racist, but it'll be like slavery when that note is due. We are going to beholden to the foreign master."
Conservatives need a new point of comparison.
It's hard to know where to start with rhetoric as nonsensical as this. Do we note that the deficit is already shrinking at its fastest pace since World War II? Or maybe highlight the fact that the U.S. was poised to pay off the national debt until Republicans put two wars, two tax cuts, and a Wall Street bailout on the national charge card?
Do we mention that no sentence can end well if it starts, "This isn't racist, but..."? Or perhaps the inconvenient detail that China only holds about 8% of the national debt?
Is it worth remembering that focusing on debt reduction in a weak economy is ridiculous? Or how about the fact that the same policymakers who claim to be obsessed with debt reduction refuse to consider compromises that would actually reduce the debt?
We could ask any of those questions, of course, but let's instead make a more straightforward observation: comparing a government's national debt to slavery is ridiculous and needlessly offensive. Slavery is a unique crime against humanity and a stain on history, not a rhetorical device to be used by lazy ideologues complaining about issues they don't fully understand.
And yet, this seems to come up quite a bit. A month ago, it was Fox News personality Ben Carson delivering a speech in which he argued health care reform is "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery."
The same week, George Will drew a parallel between the Affordable Care Act and the Fugitive Slave Act. In September, a New Hampshire Republican drew the same comparison.
Fox's Hugh Hewitt compared defunding the Affordable Care Act to repealing slavery on the air last month, and two weeks prior, Rush Limbaugh also equated "Obamacare" and slavery.
I don't imagine the right will appreciate this, but as we've discussed before, no one should compare anything to slavery but slavery.