The incident caused quite a stir in Bruning’s home state. In a front-page story on August 10th, the Omaha World-Herald wrote:
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said Tuesday that he regrets comparing welfare recipients to scavenging raccoons in a recent speech made while campaigning for the Republican Senate nomination.
“It was an inartful statement and one Jon regrets making,” Trent Fellers, Bruning’s campaign manager, said in an email. “As attorney general, Jon’s been a strong supporter of welfare reform and giving welfare recipients a hand up and not just a handout.”
A tracker for a liberal political action committee, American Bridge 21st Century, made a video of the speech in which Bruning draws a comparison between welfare recipients and raccoons that scavenge for an easy meal of dead rats and beetles.
“The raccoons, they’re not stupid,” he said. “They’re going to . do the easy way if we make it easy for them. Just like welfare recipients all across America, if we don’t incent them to work, they’re going to take the easy route.”
Bruning’s statement was particularly unfortunate because it perpetuates an unfair stereotype of lazy welfare recipients, said Kate Bolz, policy analyst with Nebraska Appleseed, a Lincoln-based public interest law firm. The three primary welfare programs contain strong work, education or job training requirements.
“It’s a misconception that folks who access public assistance aren’t working,” she said. “It’s a requirement for those programs unless someone is disabled or facing a crisis of domestic violence.”
Published: Aug 10, 2011