Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson used a Sunday campaign stop in Georgia to accuse politicians of using poverty to bolster their voting constituencies. In his eyes, open-ended welfare has not only perpetuated poverty, its sustained a loyal voting bloc for certain politicians.
“False compassion is patting them on the head and saying, ‘You can’t take care of yourself and I’m going to give you food stamps, a housing subsidy and free health care,'” Carson said according to the Gainesville Times. “And all the things you need so you can stay dependent and vote for me.’”
His criticism of welfare is not new. During the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February, Carson also said welfare makes people dependent on government. At the time he blamed Democrats for being the ones who use welfare to buy votes. He has said a better approach would be a system that provides people with the tools to get themselves out of poverty.
“[I have] no desire whatsoever to hurt the poor,” Carson noted. “But I believe in true compassion, providing the poor with a mechanism to climb the ladder of success.”
Studies examining whether welfare creates dependency have shown varying results. The conservative Heritage Foundation found in a 2011 report that increases in welfare create more dependency. Even the left-leaning Brookings Institution found in 2002 that welfare can cause dependency, concluding education and job training are key to preventing poverty.
Carson has been able to lead much of the Republican field. Recent polls show him second only to Donald Trump. In some polls, Carson has been able to narrowly take the lead. Both Carson and Trump have positioned themselves as Washington, D.C., outsiders. A stance that plays well with many voters tired of what they sees as a troublesome insider culture.
During his Georgia speech, Carson also criticized judiciary activism and efforts to change the moral framework of society.
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