ThinkProgress filed this report from a town hall in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Bachmannia descended upon South Carolina last week as GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann stomped for votes at events across the state. Wearing a yellow dress to honor the yellow Tea Party flag, Bachmann roused a rally of supporters in Greenville on Wednesday before heading to Rock Hill for a town hall event at Winthrop University. Bachmann answered many audience questions with personal anecdotes from her past. When one woman asked her how we can “move people from dependence to independence” in this country, Bachmann responded by recounting how her own family made it through tough times when she was young by relying on God and forsaking government assistance:
BACHMANN: We went from middle class to overnight below poverty. And my mother had to leave the home and get a job…and I had to go out and get babysitting jobs…to help out. … We did not go on dependency programs. And I don’t begrudge anyone who does when I say that, but we didn’t do that. We had our faith in God, we depended on our neighbors, we depended on ourselves, and we just did without. We made do, we did without. […] And we were just grateful for what we had. We knew that one day things would be better than they were. And God was faithful, and they were better.
The recession has raised the poverty rate to a 15 year high, with the total number of Americans in poverty reaching 44 million, or one in seven residents. According to the New York Times, “Millions more were surviving only because of expanded unemployment insurance and other assistance.” But Bachmann suggests these families could simply “go without” (nevermind that many families are already living hand-to-mouth). Her best advice is to “be grateful” and “be faithful to God.” This seems like an inadequate solution to greatest poverty crisis in a generation.
Although Bachmann was careful to say she didn’t begrudge those who are on government aid, she clearly looked down upon those who, as she put it, “are in a mindset of dependency.” At one point she said, “We can’t deal with” those people. Also insulting is her suggestion that people living in poverty don’t want to take advantage of “opportunity” and need to be lectured to get off “dependency programs.”
Bachmann is now a millionaire, according to financial disclosures. It’s disappointing that someone who claims to have experienced poverty has such a bad track record of voting to deprive the truly needy of aid and redistributing wealth upward.
A constant critic of welfare programs, Medicaid, and Medicare, Bachmann herself has come under scrutiny recently for personally taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in government aid and Medicaid funds for her family farm and counseling clinic.