Looking Down on the Poor With Thom Tillis

I have no idea if it will affect today’s balloting in NC, but it’s a fairly just byproduct of Republican Senate front-runner Thom Tillis’ efforts to depict himself as a fiery leader of a “conservative revolution” in his state that a video has emerged that makes Mitt Romney’s “47%” rap look downright benign:

Here’s Tillis is in 2011 discussing a “divide and conquer” strategy for dealing with people on public assistance:

This is indeed interesting. It’s become common for Republicans to encourage those who benefit from Social Security and Medicare to view people on Medicaid or food stamps (or even receiving Obamacare subsidies) as diverting resources away from their own virtuous selves. But what Tillis is talking about is pitting people with disabilities against those who can’t find work or sufficient wages to live on–getting the former, in fact, to look down on the latter. That’s a new one, to me at least.

As Greg Sargent observes at WaPo:

This video was taken in 2011, but even Tillis himself appeared to understand his remarks were controversial, noting that such views could “get me railroaded out of town.” The Hagan campaign is circulating the video today, but observers who have been paying close attention to the race have known for some time that Tillis, the state House speaker, has a more conservative record than is commonly appreciated, one Dems might utilize to their advantage.

Indeed, the 47 percenter-ism on display in this video didn’t occur in a vacuum. Tillis not only opposed the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which would have expanded coverage to 500,000 people he would represent; he also boasted in an ad that he was personally responsible for stopping that outcome “cold.” Tillis and North Carolina Republicans also dramatically slashed unemployment benefits, which, in the words of one national observer, turned help for the jobless into a ”thinner safety net than it has been in decades.”

Tillis has heaped contempt on those protesting such policies, arguing: “What I see from the folks who are opposing our agenda is whining coming from losers.”

What a nasty, nasty piece of work. And this is the “Republican Establishment” candidate for the Senate. Tells you a lot about them, eh?

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.