North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Greg Brannon has an interesting argument for eliminating food stamps: "slavery." In a videotaped interview with the North Carolina Tea Party in October, Brannon ... cited James Madison in making the case for abolishing the Department of Agriculture -- and with it, the $76 billion-a-year Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. [...] "We're taking our plunder, that's taken from us as individuals, [giving] it to the government, and the government is now keeping itself in power by giving these goodies away," Brannon said in the interview. "The answer is the Department of Agriculture should go away at the federal level. And now 80 percent of the farm bill was food stamps. That enslaves people. What you want to do, it's crazy but it's true, teach people to fish instead of giving them fish. When you're at the behest of somebody else, you are actually a slavery to them [sic]."
In September, congressional Republicans voted to slash food aid to the poor, cutting $39 billion over the next decade, which would result in lost benefits for about 3.8 million people. A policy analysis published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained, "Those who would be thrown off the program include some of the nation's most destitute adults, as well as many low-income children, seniors, and families that work for low wages."
But according to a U.S. Senate candidate in North Carolina, there's no real cause for concern since those struggling folks are really just being set free. Tim Murphy reported yesterday:
Keep in mind, Brannon, who's already been endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), has a credible chance of being elected to the U.S. Senate later this year.
We could explain why helping supplement struggling families' food budgets is in no way similar to owning and selling human beings as property, but I'm going to assume fair-minded adults know better than to take Brannon's garbage seriously.
Instead, let's consider Republicans' preoccupation of late with slavery as a point of comparison.
Just a couple of months ago, former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said the national debt is "like slavery." It was the latest in a string of related incidents.
In October, Fox News personality Ben Carson delivered 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 has compared defunding the Affordable Care Act to repealing slavery, and two weeks prior, Rush Limbaugh also equated “Obamacare” and slavery.
This shouldn't be necessary, but let's go ahead and note that 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.
I don’t imagine the right will appreciate this, but as we’ve discussed before, no one should compare anything to slavery but slavery.