First, the breathtaking clip (via The Corner):
“Jesus said you’re going to Hell if you didn’t treat the lesser of his brothers and sisters…He said he was hungry, you didn’t give him food stamps…He was thirsty, you didn’t purify the water…he said he was naked, you didn’t give him Social Security.”
This is a complete distortion of Christian social teaching, no? The analogy isn’t even applicable. Why? Because I’m pretty sure that the programs Rangel is lionizing here didn’t even exist in Jesus’ day. In any case, Rangel is essentially saying that if a so-called "Christian" disagrees with the premise of expanding government benefits to poor people (never mind that government dependency is oftentimes destructive and counter-productive) he/she is therefore indifferent to those living in poverty. This, my friends, is a non sequitur. At the same time, Rangel further implies that welfare state programs are the only programs that exist in the United States that could possibly lift poor people out of poverty. Not true. In fact, fifty years of empirical evidence suggests that the “Great Society” programs championed by LBJ and the intelligentsia (the very ones Rangel’s seems to be advocating for here) have actually hindered progress. Read some books by Dr. Thomas Sowell: He's studied these issues his entire life.
Furthermore, and contrary to popular opinion, Republicans don’t want to “cut” these programs so the less fortunate will starve; they want to cut these programs to empower those struggling financially by getting them back to work and into the labor market. Remember, nearly one in six Americans collect food stamps today. That’s roughly 50 million people (!), many of whom are openly and unapologetically gaming the system. (Look no further than surfer/guitarist/beach bum Jason Greenslate living the high life in California). And yet any attempt by Republicans to rein in this out-of-control program is criticized as discriminatory and anti-American. How? Mere opposition to an anti-poverty government program doesn’t somehow magically make one pro-poverty. Republicans do indeed have some ideas for lifting up the poor. The problem is, Democrats don’t want to hear them.
By the way, it’s amusing that Schultz breathlessly asks Rangel whether or not he thinks Republicans have “lost the moral and religious high ground by the way they vote?” Say, aren’t Democrats the ones who tried to strip the word “God” from their official party platform at the 2012 DNC and explicitly endorsed abortion-on-demand? The Republican Party at least happily affirms the existence of God and the dignity of human life. Can the Democratic Party say the same thing? Nope. So perhaps progressives should be the ones to re-think their own political allegiances, not Republicans.