Republicans have made a habit of saying the quiet part out loud lately — and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) appears to be the latest offender.
On March 28, The Los Angeles Times reported that officials in Orange County, California were working to push homeless people out of the area, removing bus benches after complaints that homeless people were sleeping on them, forcing people out of encampments along the Santa Ana River, and vowing to remove a tent city near the Santa Ana Civic Center. No one is sure where those people will go next.
More than 1,000 people protested at the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting last month, where officials were considering a plan to relocate those who had been moved from near the river to temporary shelters in the area. That plan apparently inspired Rohrabacher to speak out, issuing a statement titled “Homeless Shelter Nonsense,” in which he complained about the homeless population insinuating that homelessness was somehow a choice.
“The chickens are coming home to roost after almost a decade of Liberal/Left control of our state and federal government,” Rohrabacher wrote. “Those chickens have ended up in Orange County.”
In the statement, Rohrabacher called “county financed homeless compounds” a “spectacle” and a “travesty.”
“As a parent who owns a modest home in an Orange County neighborhood, I join the outrage that we are assuming responsibility for homeless people, taking care of their basic needs and elongating their agony by removing the necessity to make fundamental decisions about the way they live their lives,” he said. Providing them with “a place to stay and basic sustenance,” he added, “will not change them for the better and will encourage more such people to come to Orange County.”
Rohrabacher’s statement relies the idea that homeless people simply choose not to work hard enough to stay in their homes, and ignores decades of institutional racism, classism, and a refusal on the part of legislators like Rohrabacher to ensure that everyone is entitled to basic human rights.
Rohrabacher is hardly the first to put his foot in his mouth on the topic: last week, a Republican group in Colorado apologized for a tweet and Facebook post saying that “Republicans hate poor people.”
“Out of self-respect — be a Republican,” the posts from the Alamosa Republicans read. “Democrats love poor people because they think that poor people will vote Democrat. Republicans hate poor people because they think the dignity of man is above being poor.”
Rohrabacher’s comments echo those of other Republicans during last year’s health care debate, like former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who implied that people who can’t afford health care were irresponsible budgeters.
“You know what, Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice,” he said last March. “Maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”
Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS) went so far as to invoke Jesus when he argued that some people just don’t want to take care of themselves.
“Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us,’” he told Stat News. “There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”