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Orrin Hatch Slams Welfare Recipients Who 'Won't Help Themselves’

A conservative senator suggested last week that many poor people who depend upon government programs do not deserve the assistance.

“I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything,” Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, declared in a floor speech. “For decades now, we’ve been spending more than we have, building more and more federal programs, some of which are lousy, some of which are well intended, and some of which are actually good like the CHIP program.”

The lawmaker was referring to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which he has long supported. He warned that such initiatives are increasing the federal deficit. Though CHIP was due for reauthorization in October, Congress has not acted. Hatch predicted that the program will continue, but added: “It’s got to be done the right way.”

ThinkProgress pointed out that the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that if tax-reform legislation the Senate approved last weekend becomes law, the deficit will soar by about $1.5 trillion dollars. The GOP-sponsored measure passed by a vote of 51-49, with all Republicans except Tennessee’s Bob Corker supporting it. No Democratic or Independent senator voted for the bill, which would cut taxes for corporations and the rich.

Advocates for seniors and the poor are worried that Congress will slash funding for assistance programs if the deficit rises as predicted. According to Newsweek, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has acknowledged that money intended for Social Security and Medicare would be needed to finance the tax cuts. “We have to do two things,” he explained at a recent Politico event. “We have to generate economic growth, which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.”

President Trump has indicated that as soon as he signs tax-reform legislation, he will shift his focus to revamping welfare programs. House Speaker Paul Ryan also wants to slash appropriations for programs that help elderly and low-income people. “Make no mistake, the #GOPTaxScam is a Trojan Horse for Republicans to take an axe to public assistance, Medicare and Social Security,” Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California tweeted.

Hatch and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon recently collaborated on a plan to keep CHIP operating for another five years. Their bill is titled the Keeping Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure Act. “(The) advancement of the KIDS Act is an important step toward ensuring the children and families who rely on CHIP do not see a lapse in health coverage,” Hatch wrote. “I will continue to work with … my colleagues to further advance this bill in a fiscally responsible manner to provide certainty for this critical, bipartisan program.”

More than 60 percent of those contacted in a national poll agreed with the statement that CHIP is a “top federal priority,” according to The Intercept. Only 28 percent said tax reform was more urgent.

Source: ThinkProgress
Photo: YouTube

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