Kevin McCarthy Brags About Making Struggling Americans Work for Food

President Biden Meets With Speaker McCarthy As Debt Ceiling Negotiations Continue - Credit: Getty Images
President Biden Meets With Speaker McCarthy As Debt Ceiling Negotiations Continue - Credit: Getty Images

After the White House and Republicans in Congress reached a tentative agreement on the debt ceiling, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy went on Fox News Sunday to boast about making struggling Americans work in order to continue receiving food aid.

Although precise details have not been released, the deal will increase the maximum age at which adults must work in order to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food stamps from age 50 to 54. There are exceptions, however, for veterans, unhoused individuals, and those with dependents. The deal also includes changes to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) but those details have not been made public.

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“We finally were able to cut spending. We’re the first Congress to vote for cutting spending year over year,” McCarthy boasted Sunday on Fox. “So, you cut that back. You fully fund the veterans. You fully fund defense. But you take that non-defense spending all the way back to 2022 levels. Now you get work requirements for TANF and SNAP. The Democrats said that was a red line.”

At another point in the interview, McCarthy claimed that “We’re going to get America working again,” and that the deal includes “work requirements to help people out of poverty into jobs.” At this, host Shannon Bream pushed back on McCarthy, arguing that the work requirements are not tough enough for the most extreme members of the GOP caucus.

“The White House, that’s an area where they’re celebrating,” Bream said of the work requirements. “They say there are no changes to Medicaid. You referenced SNAP and TANF. So basically, SNAP includes an expansion for veterans and people who are homeless. So there’s an expansion there to some extent… and the changes that you did get will lift the age and the requirements and those kinds of things, but they sunset. So they don’t last for very long.”

It should be noted, though, that the vast majority of Americans are working. Unemployment remains extremely low at 3.4 percent as of this April.

McCarthy also bragged about cutting funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “This is the largest recision in American history,” McCarthy said. “You can add up all the recisions from all the other Congresses. This is greater. And what are we pulling back? CDC’s Global Health Fund. So no longer are we sending $400 million of American taxpayers’ money to China.”

According to the CDC, the Global Health Fund supports HIV/AIDS prevention and care, immunizations, and global disease detection and emergency response. On the heels of a global pandemic, cutting this funding seems dangerous, but after seeing their response to Covid, it’s not surprising that Republicans in Congress don’t take global health seriously.

Returning to the topic of work requirements, McCarthy said, “At the end of the day, it saves more money, ’cause what does a work requirement do? It’s only on able-bodied people with no dependents. Instead of borrowing money from China to pay somebody to sit on the couch, we now give them the process to go get a job. Every study has shown when you do that, it puts people to work. And when they work, what happens? More people are paying into social security and Medicare.”

Sure, it may “save” some money in food aid, but at what cost?

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