'You're unemployable': Matt Gaetz shamed for tying 'rigorous work requirements' to the debt ceiling
United States Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) declared on Wednesday that increasing the Treasury Department's debt ceiling should be tied to "rigorous work requirements" for welfare recipients.
In a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Gaetz alluded to an arcane philosophy that people who lack gainful employment deserve to starve.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) made analogous comments on Monday during an address to the New York Stock Exchange.
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"Thank you, Mister Speaker. I rise to vindicate the most American of values, and that is work. When John Smith landed at Jamestown, he said, he who does not work, neither shall he eat. And we have drifted so far away of that, creating a social safety net that has been converted into a multi-generational hammock for far too many Americans," Gaetz complained. "And so as we reach America's credit card limit, I am proud to stand with my many house Republican colleagues who believe there should be no increase in this debt limit, absent rigorous work requirements. If you could see President Clinton and Newt Gingrich coming together for work requirements in the Nineties. There's no reason we cannot do that in divided government now to cut spending where it is wasteful and to grow this economy where it is necessary. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield back."
Studies have failed to prove that work requirements are effective methods of reducing poverty. Yet recent data collected last year by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that work requirements actually have detrimental impacts on disadvantaged individuals and families.
"The findings provide evidence that maternal work incentives as implemented by welfare reform came at a cost to children in the form of lower quality parenting and underscore the importance of considering quality, and not just quantity, in assessing the effects of maternal work incentive policies on parenting and children’s home environments," the organization wrote in an August 2022 paper.
In October, Early Learning Nationnoted that NBE's results "echo those of an earlier study by Chris Herbst, a professor of public affairs at Arizona State University who compared mothers who received benefits for resuming work soon after childbirth to those who made use of their states' work exemptions for new mothers. Published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Herbst's 2017 study found that among mothers with children younger than 24 months old, working mothers were less likely to live in poverty than comparison mothers who did not work—an important finding considering child poverty is linked to a host of developmental issues in children."
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The magazine also pointed out that "Elizabeth Lower-Basch and Stephanie Schmit drew a similar conclusion in a report published by Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) looking at the intersection of public benefits and the first year of life. 'The harsh realities of today's low-wage labor market—with the norm being little paid leave and unpredictable and unstable schedules—ratchet up the stress and make it harder for parents to fulfill their dual roles as wage-earners and caregivers,' the authors wrote."
Gaetz was summarily mocked on social media for his cold belittling of low-income earners and apparent obliviousness to the harsh realities that accompany strict work requirements.
Art Martin: "When has Matt Gaetz ever worked?"
Michael Raymond: "Careful what you ask for, Matt. You're unemployable once your current gig is up."
Mark X. Adams: "How can one who doesn't work, require someone else to work."
CasualDuchess: "So they want to cut funding for social safety nets? That's taking freedom away from people. They can't accumulate wealth, get a good education, healthcare, services that ensure a fulfilling life. That's taking freedom & liberty from Americans who pay taxes for those services."
Medium Voltage Kentucky Colonel: "It's important to note that as Matt Gaetz hollers about work requirements, he's never had a job."
Pumping irony: "Most people on public assistance work. So are disabled who cannot. Your disdain for the poor is no surprise."
june: "Love when a son of a rich man who bailed his drunk son out of jail more times than anyone can remember and then bought him a congressional seat wants to lecture people on zero handouts unless they work for it."
Watch Gaetz's remarks below or at this link.
\u201cI rise to vindicate the most American of values, and that is WORK!\n\nI am proud to stand with my many House Republican colleagues who believe there should be no increase in this debt limit absent rigorous work requirements.\u201d— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@Rep. Matt Gaetz) 1681855269
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