Friday, June 22, 2012

Eric Hovde Meant Exactly What He Said

Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Eric Hovde has been in full on damage control mode since showing his disdain for the "sob stories" of the poor.  It seems that he is using a multifaceted approach in his spinning over the last 24 hours.
  1. Forget the "sob stories" of the poor comment, the multimillionaire candidate born into privilege is the real victim. 
  2. I don't like to talk about it but let me deflect legitimate criticism by fully detailing my massive charity portfolio.
  3. Change the subject to anything other than what I actually said...let's pretend I was talking about alleged food stamp fraud for example.
As Eric Hovde continues his damage control tour, lets focus a bit closer at what he actually said and how it totally fits into the policy positions that he is trying to push.  We don't really have to go any further than his comments regarding Paul Ryan's immoral budget.

Specifically talking about "sob story" issues like food programs: Ryan’s Plan “would cut nearly $122.5 billion from spending on the nation’s largest domestic food aid program over the next 10 years,” converting “the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, into blocks grants.” [CQ, 3/20/12]

Although these deep Ryan cuts to things like food programs would bring much pain to many people, Eric Hovde has actually said that it doesn't go far enough. In a session with the Milwaukee Press Club, a reporter asked Eric Hovde: “I’d like to know if you support Representative Paul Ryan’s plan for our economic situation…” Hovde replied: “My only issues with Paul Ryan’s plan: It’s probably not big enough…” [Eric Hovde at the Milwaukee Press Club, 4/24/2012]

In a debate with other Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, Hovde reaffirmed this deep cuts-only approach.“I do think we have to go deeper. The reality of it is, Paul [Ryan] is proposing about $5.8 trillion in cuts over the next decade. That’s going to leave us with another $5 trillion in deficit spending over the next decade. I think we have to bring out baseline budget back to 2006 before all the crazy spending started.” [Senate Debate Waukesha, 4/11/12]

So in Eric Hovde's comments about not wanting to read "sob stories" about people getting food stamps he was reflecting exactly what he wants to implement into actual policy.  It wasn't about food stamp fraud, it was about his desire to implement massive cuts to those kinds of safety net programs for the working poor. In front of his friends and allies Eric Hovde said exactly what he meant. In his short comment he accurately crystallized the exact kind of policy path that he would like to follow. His comments were obnoxious and it was insensitive to the basic needs of the less fortunate, but so is his policy agenda. 

The sad fact is that more people in Wisconsin and across the country are closer to the "sob story" than they are to the multimillionaire with multiple mansions.  I suspect that most people would rather contribute collectively to a reliable public safety net than to bank on the personal charity and whims of the wealthy elite. I honestly don't think Eric Hovde "gets it" and the fact that he doesn't brings us right back to my original point: He is a full member of the out-of-touch rich guy club and both his words and his actions show it. 

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