An Arizona GOP congressional candidate compared welfare recipients to “starving” animals in a speech to the Arizona State University College Republicans recorded September 4.
The Phoenix New Times reported that candidate Steve Ferrara told the young Republicans that people who receive government benefits can no longer be self-reliant.
“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.”
In a statement to the New Times, the candidate said he was posting the full transcript of his comments at ASU to avoid them being taken out of context — but it appears that he only included the part of the discussion initially questioned.
After speaking about the Latin roots of the word “paternalism,” Ferrara proceeded to speak about America’s founders, Enlightenment principles and secular “soulfulness.”
“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,” the doctor and Navy veteran told the newspaper in a statement.
The report noted that the New Times reached out to the ASU College Republicans for comment about the candidate’s statement but the group declined to respond. Later during recorded conservation, however, one student was reportedly heard pushing back on Ferrara’s logic.
According to the report, the student asked Ferrara whether it was preferable to give would-be welfare recipients money instead of enrolling them in government programs so they don’t become like pets.
“How are they gonna use the money?” the candidate asked, arguing that “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 later criticized the US healthcare system based on his experience as a doctor and argued that the GOP is concerned with the well-being of the economically disadvantaged.
“As Republicans, we care deeply about the poor,” he said. “And we understand that the people that are the most vulnerable in our community lack disposable income.”
Ferrara is running for the open seat in Arizona’s 9th Congressional District that will soon be vacated by Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) as she runs for Senate. His Democratic opponent is former Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton who is favored to win.
You can listen to the portion of the recording comparing people who receive government assistance to pets below, via the Phoenix New Times.