December 13, 2011 4:00 pm ET - by Kate Conway
Last night on Fox Business, perpetually zany Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who makes $174,000 per year as a congressman, cried poor (again).
He appeared opposite Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel (NY), who defended Americans who don't make enough money to be liable for income tax against host Eric Bolling's complaints. Rangel told Gohmert and Bolling, "I guess it's been so long since you both have known people who don't have wealth, but the truth of the matter is, the way most people look at this, you get a check, they promise you $100 a week. Whatever it is that's below the poverty line, depending on the number of family, you may not have federal liability. But you do pay Social Security. You do pay for Medicare."
The suggestion that he's out of touch with working Americans ruffled Gohmert's feathers, and he informed Rangel:
As far as being so long since we knew people like that, if you check our financial reports, you'll find I am one of the people with the least assets because my wife and I cashed out everything we had but our home so that I could run for Congress.
It's true that Gohmert is a little light on assets right now: He's taken out a personal loan and several student loans to put his three kids through college. But he's deluded if he thinks that puts him in a position to sympathize with true poverty. The vast majority of people Rangel was talking about — those who aren't liable for federal income tax — bring in less than a quarter of Gohmert's annual salary. Sixty-one percent of them come from households that earn less than $20,000 per year.
But Gohmert, who has made a name for himself with his meandering but passionate rants, wasn't finished. He explained to Rangel what motivated him to leave his position as a judge, liquidate his assets, and take on debt in order to seek a seat in Washington:
I left the bench to do it because I was sentencing more and more single women who, the scenarios were the same over and over. They had gotten bored with high school, somebody said, "Drop out, have a child, you know, the government will send you a check." And then they found out you really can't live on that one check, so they have another child and another child. I sentenced one woman who had fifteen children, couldn't even tell you where they were. I put them all on probation and gave them incentives to finish high school.
But what really got to me, Eric, is the fact that our federal government in the 1960s with the best of intentions saw single women that were struggling, trying to make it because of deadbeat dads and so they said let's help them, and what they did was provide an incentive to lure people down to a rut they couldn't get out of.
This is an excellent example of Gohmert's penchant for using vaguely absurd anecdotal stories to bolster his ultra-conservative policy positions — but that's beside the point. Gohmert appears to actually be arguing that the government should not help struggling single moms who don't get any support — financial or otherwise — from the fathers of their children, the rationale being that the primary reason high school-aged women become pregnant is in order to get government money, and therefore they will simply stop if the government handouts dry up.
This isn't the first time Gohmert has expounded on the government's role in 'luring' young women into pregnancy, but it may be the first time he's revealed the depth of its importance to him: After all, according to Gohmert, it motivated him to put his family into what he seems to think is relative poverty in order to run for Congress.
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