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Let Them Eat Cake! GOP Hopeful Joni Ernst Thinks Churches Should Help the Poor, Not the Government

Joni Ernst recently hit the national news after Mitt Romney told a really lame joke about Obama while stumping for the candidate in Iowa.

Now the candidate, who is still bragging about her hog-castrating past, is in the news for something that is not at all funny.

The GOP candidate for U.S. Senator thinks the government should not help the poor at all, churches should do that.

In an audio recording obtained by the Iowa Public Radio last year, Ernst said that she worries that once people have access to affordable health care, the nation won’t be able to wean those working class ‘deadbeats’ from using taxpayer money so they can have access to a doctor once in a while.

“We’re looking at Obamacare right now,” Ernst said on the 2013  tape. “Once we start with those benefits in January, how are we going to get people off of those? It’s exponentially harder to remove people once they’ve already been on those programs.”

She then continued by saying the real problem is that the government is involved at all, and really, churches should be the ones helping the poor.

“We have lost a reliance on not only our own families, but so much of what our churches and private organizations used to do,” she opined. “They used to have wonderful food pantries. They used to provide clothing for those that really needed it, but we have gotten away from that. Now we’re at a point where the government will just give away anything. We have to stop that.”

As a former food pantry director in a local church, however, Ernst’s words are a slap in the face, not only to me but to all those often volunteer church workers who are struggling right now to help those in need in the face of federal budget cuts and lost donations.

It also shows just how out of touch Joni Ernst really is.

First of all, the wealthy are not the ones supporting church food pantries, eagerly giving what it takes to make sure the poor have what they need. By and large, private donations for church food pantries come from the middle class. That is why many are struggling right now across America. The middle class can no longer donate as their own resources dry up.  In the meantime, more and more people are coming for help, some of them the very same people who donated in the past.

Second of all, food pantries are a safety net and one that is already full of holes. People who come to food pantries often come because their social security checks or food stamps do not hold out until the end of the month. If government benefits were cut off from the poor, as Ernst suggested, there is no way food pantries could possibly keep up. It would be a hunger disaster that would largely impact children, working families and the elderly.

Finally, there is no church bake sale that will help when someone gets a devastating diagnosis that may cost hundreds of thousands in medical care and there is absolutely no way churches, struggling to keep up existing charitable needs, can be expected to reasonably shoulder the needs of of the working poor whose employers deny them a living wage and health benefits.

In other words, what Joni Ernst is really saying  is let the already cash-strapped middle class make sure that neighbor kid is fed and has access to the doctor while letting the rich folk off the hook.

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.