Ring-winger empathy can be measured along a linear grade; this scale begins with “pot roast” and ends with “amoral predator.” If they can’t see that you’re physically ill, they don’t think you are, and God help you if you try to challenge their judgement. Thus, there’s a degree of warped logical consistency to Rand Paul’s recent call cut disability to people who suffer from back pain and anxiety disorders.
Paul made the comments while delivering a helping of red meat for his supporters and local officials during a two-day tour through New Hampshire. He’s probably gearing up for a run in 2016, and he’s going to appeal to the “Let ’em Die” crowd.
In the video uploaded by the American Bridge, a Democratic opposite-research firm, Paul tells his audience that “The thing is, in all of these programs there’s always somebody who’s deserving. But everybody in this room knows somebody who is gaming the system.” He continued:
What I tell people is, if you look like me and you hop out of your truck, you shouldn’t be getting your disability check. Over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts. Join the club. Who doesn’t get up a little anxious for work every day and their back hurts. Everybody over 40 has a little back pain.
Who does Paul know that’s “hop[ping] out of [their] truck?” I want names. I want identities. If you know someone scamming the system Paul, don’t you think it’s responsibility to speak up and get something done, rather than bloviating before a crowd of Angry White Men?
Anxiety is crippling, but for some people, like back pain, it’s cyclical. Just because the person isn’t feeling it that day doesn’t mean they don’t feel it.
Paul’s attacks line up rather nicely with the GOP’s sudden surge of interest in pushing toxic reforms through concerning Social Security Disability Insurance. Because the vast majority of right-wingers have an empathetic quotient comparable to a sociopath, disability benefits have long had a bull’s-eye painted on them.
Paul maintains that his remarks were taken out-of-context, and released a statement reading “We absolutely should take care of those truly in need of help. But the system is broken, and when people can game the system, they are stealing from those who are truly disabled and won’t receive the care and aid they need.”
I don’t understand this desire to invent rampant fraud in the social security system. Is there fraud? Absolutely. But speaking as someone who’s had a brush with several state-funded programs, I can safely say that if someone is gaming the system, it’s because they’re at the end of their ropes and they don’t have much else to rely on.
Do you know what else perpetuates fraud? A byzantine system layered like sediment over the years with every exception imaginable written into the law. Paul and the Republicans aren’t going to fix it. They’re going to make it worse, more complex, and hurt millions of people in the process. All in the name of stopping a few welfare frauds.
Of course, I maintain that we’re doing welfare wrong, anyway. Welfare shouldn’t be about lifting people — it should be about ensuring they never fall down. That’s easier to do; that’s a mincome.
Paul is scheduled to attend a number of events in an attempt to consolidate support for his potential run in the 2016 primary. He’s going to stop a fish and game club for a “Second Amendment Supporter Event,” tour a public charter school, and hold a session on the Common Core education starts.
Watch the video below: