Democrats slam GOP candidate for comments about assimilation

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). Photo from Facebook

A Republican presidential candidate is facing fire for his views about Native Americans and for once it isn't Donald Trump.

The Democratic National Committee slammed Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) for comments he made on a conservative radio program. The 2016 GOP hopeful, who is flailing in the polls, suggested that Native Americans will be better off if they would just give up their culture.

"If they were assimilated, in a decade they probably would be doing as well as the rest of us," Paul said on the Laura Ingraham Show today when talking about immigration policy.

Paul did acknowledge that the federal government "took" land from tribes and, in most instances, forced them to live in smaller and smaller parcels of land. Nevertheless, Democrats said his remarks were out of touch.

“Sen. Paul’s statements harken back to a disastrous era of federal policies that aimed to terminate tribal governments and eradicate Native American cultures," said PaaWee Rivera, the director of Native American Engagement for the DNC. "His statements and attitude show his utter lack of historical and cultural awareness.”

Paul, a first-term member of the Senate, does not have much of a record on Indian issues. But a budget proposal he unveiled shortly after winning election in 2011 included some rather questionable ideas.

He proposed to eliminate the Bureau of Indian Affairs, blaming the agency for having "swindled and mismanaged billions of dollars in Indian trust funds." But he did not offer an alternative to carry on the federal government's obligations that are promised by existing treaties, laws and regulations.

"Instead of wasting taxpayer funds throwing money into a bureau of corruption and incompetency, eliminate them and allow the tribes to manage their own trust funds independently without government intervention," Paul wrote at the time.

Paul also wanted to cut the Indian Health Service budget in half. He claimed the agency was "notoriously wrought with fraud," citing a Government Accountability Office report regarding property and equipment mismanagement. Again, he did not explain what he would do in the alternative to provide health care promised by treaty and law.

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