Arizona GOP congressional candidate Steve Ferrara compared welfare recipients to “starving” pets in a speech to the Arizona State University College Republicans on September 4, according to a recording of the speech obtained by The Phoenix New Times.
Ferrara told the young Republicans that people who receive government benefits can no longer be self-reliant and becomes an “economic captive.”
According to the New Times, Ferrara said the relationship between government and a welfare recipient is more like that of an animal and its owner.
“It’s worse than a child, you’ve relegated them to the status of a pet. Right? I mean, honestly,” Ferrara said. “Because if you can’t feed yourself, like – we all love our pets. But if you don’t put the food down for them, you don’t put the roof over their head, they would starve, right? And that’s essentially what you’ve done to poor people with these programs.”
Government assistance programs trap recipients in “an economic shack where they don’t have the ability to reach their fullest potential,” Ferrara added.
“In brief, I was quoting long-cherished social contract and Enlightenment principles which celebrate uplifting the human spirit and warn against regressive government policies that stifle the ability for people to achieve their full, true, and uniquely human potential,” Ferrara said in an emailed statement to New Times.
Thank you @ASUCollegeGOP for inviting Team Ferrara to your meeting this week. It's inspiring to see the level of engagement these college students have. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share my vision for #AZ09 with so many. #FerraraforCongress #Arizona pic.twitter.com/7aKllJDLTh
— Steve Ferrara (@steveferraramd) September 6, 2018
The New Times notes:
The “pets” comment came about in a somewhat roundabout way during the hour-long College Republicans conversation.
Ferrara went on a tangent as he discussed income and housing inequality in California. After referencing the work of William Graham Sumner – a 19th-century academic who supported laissez-faire economic policies and opposed welfare – Ferrara segued to comparing poor people to animals.
“If they don’t want to turn people into the equivalent of pets, the student asks, wouldn’t it be better to give welfare recipients money, as opposed to enrolling them in government assistance programs?” one student can be heard politely pushing back on Ferrara’s logic in the recording.
“How are they gonna use the money?” Ferrara responds. “By giving them cash to be used on food or health care, they will no longer be able to take advantage of subsidies that come with government assistance programs,” Ferrara says.
He goes on to criticize the U.S. health-care system, arguing that releasing people from Medicaid by giving them money to cover their own health insurance wouldn’t work because private health insurance is much more expensive.
Relying on his experience as a doctor, Ferrara says that exclusively treating patients who rely on government health insurance programs is economically impossible.
“Medicaid pays rock bottom – like, I’m a doctor,” Ferrara says. “Every Medicaid patient you take care of, you lose money … So if you only took care of Medicaid patients, you’d go out of business in a day.”
“As Republicans, we care deeply about the poor,” Ferrara says in the recording. “And we understand that the people that are the most vulnerable in our community lack disposable income.”