Republicans are known for coming up with some less than savory “solutions” to poverty, but Rep. Don Young, a GOP lawmaker from Alaska, may have outdone them all on Thursday when he suggested that wolves could be a solution to homelessness.
According to The Washington Post, Young made the comment during an exchange with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing. He was arguing that gray wolves should be taken off the endangered species list, criticizing the National Park Service and his congressional colleagues who seek to protect the endangered animals.
“How many of you have got wolves in your district? None. None. Not one,” Young said, calling the gray wolf “a predator.”
“We’ve got 79 congressmen sending you a letter, they haven’t got a damn wolf in their whole district,” Young added. “I’d like to introduce them in your district. If I introduced them in your district, you wouldn’t have a homeless problem anymore.”
A spokesman for Young told The Washington Post that the statement was meant to emphasize that “these predators pose serious threats to wildlife management and their listing has damaging impacts to local communities.”
Young is no stranger to controversial statements. In October 2014, he used profane language and made highly insensitive remarks about gay marriage and suicide at a high school. One of the school’s students had taken his own life days before Young made the remarks. Young also reportedly “freaked out” on his 2014 Democratic challenger ahead of a debate that same month.
While Young’s comments are outrageous, it’s worth pointing out that Republicans’ actual strategies for addressing poverty and homelessness are pretty cruel, too. Over the last few years we’ve seen a number of GOP-led states cut benefits to the poor, providing less as well as making them more difficult to apply for. TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families), SNAP (food stamps), and WIC programs have already been slashed, and Republicans have proposed cutting as much as $40 billion from the food stamp (SNAP) program over the next decade. Additionally, the refusal in a number of red states to expand Medicaid has left tens of thousands in a gap without health insurance.
What’s more, states that are attempting to force welfare recipients to undergo mandatory drug tests prior to getting benefits are demanding the poor pay for their own drug tests out of pocket, and even when people do receive assistance, they are forced to get rid of every asset they have first, thereby dooming themselves to a cycle of poverty they are unlikely to ever end.
And that’s on top of a number of increasingly cruel laws targeting homeless people that were condemned by the U.N. Human Rights Committee in March 2014. The committee described these laws, which criminalize the very act of being homeless, as “cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment” and a violation of America’s obligation to adhere to international human rights treaties.