The Brawler is, of course, referring to Johnny "Per Diem" Gard's move to prevent Wisconsin from restoring food stamp benefits to the Hmong and other legal immigrants post-federal welfare reform.
The Hmong, of course, sided with the US during its adventure in Indochina and brought over here for their safety.
The Brawler almost forgot how Gard thought we should repay them until he took a trip in the time travel machine. From the 5/1/98 Cap Times:
Republican lawmakers turned their backs on hundreds of Hmong families and other refugees in Wisconsin by refusing to restore food stamp benefits for legal immigrants.
They said the blame lies not with them, but with the U.S. government. Republicans in the U.S. Senate are blocking the aid in Washington, D.C.
On a party-line vote Thursday, the Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 against restoring the food stamp benefits that were cut by federal welfare and immigration laws that took effect last year.
The federal cuts left an estimated 7,200 legal immigrants in the state -- most of them children -- without food stamps.
The problem has been compounded by Gov. Tommy Thompson's Wisconsin Works welfare replacement plan, because parents who participate in the work program get a flat grant -- which doesn't go far in a large family.
In Madison and other communities, immigrant parents who fought with American forces during the Vietnam War have been astonished by the sudden denial of benefits they say they earned with their blood.
"We are the defenders of the American combat troops in South Vietnam," Chia Vang told reporters during a recent press conference on the food stamp issue. "In Laos, we became citizens of the United States when the American leaders promised to take care of us" if they lost the war.
Some of the refugees, confronted with the loss of food for their families and unable to get jobs because of war wounds or a lack of English, have threatened to commit suicide if they cannot feed their families.
Vang noted that in Laos, when there was hunger, many Hmong families either planted their own crops or foraged in the hills for their own food. "In the USA, when the government terminates their only source of benefits, they will not be able to go to the hills," he said.
Rep. John Gard, the co-chairman of the finance committee, discounted the possibility of tragedies, saying the refugees always talk like that.
"Some of the people who work very closely (with the refugees) say the discussion about violent acts is a natural response to most of their problems," he said.
If any such tragedies do happen, the bodies should be laid at the doorstep of the White House and the U.S. Congress, said Gard, R-Peshtigo.
"It's not our fault that the federal government has a policy like this," he said. "President Clinton and the Congress have a responsibility to set the policy on food stamps and they have made the decision time and time again" to exclude immigrants.
Helluva guy! Who says he don't know from family values. Indeed, a later puff piece in the Wisconsin State Journal (5/10/98) he offered these pearls which I'm sure the Hmong could take to heart:
"I understand what it's like to struggle. I also understand what made America great," Gard said later, recalling growing up in a big family on a small farm. "It's not easy to be poor, but it's not supposed to be."
He explained that the "greatest chance not to be poor" comes with being freed from government dependence.
Huh. Thanks, Johnny!