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Republican's Radical Debt Ceiling Demands Harm Those in Need

The debt ceiling — I know you’ve read about it, and yes, the stakes are just as high as all the news articles suggest. But most of those news articles focus on the risk of default itself. Today, I want to focus on extreme Republicans’ radical demands, which would push millions of people into precarious economic and health circumstances.

The deadline is days away. Before I detail the specific harms, please take a moment to weigh in yourself — help us keep millions of low- and middle-class families afloat.

Help Families Avoid Economic Disaster

When I talk about radical demands, I’m talking about holding hostage critical funding to the American people in order to force devastating long-term cuts and restrictions to programs that keep people healthy, housed, educated, and fed. I’m talking about an elderly person who is unable to access Social Security benefits because shutdowns have closed the office; I am talking about an older food stamp recipient who goes hungry because she is now ineligible just because she is unable to work; and I am talking about 1 million children living well below the poverty line whose families might be denied their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.

When I talk about radical demands, I am talking about cruel measures taken at the expense of people who rely on the promise of health care, food assistance, child care and more. Here are just a few programs in jeopardy if extreme Republicans get their way:

  • SNAP, known colloquially as food stamps, will have more stringent work requirements, imposing new administrative burdens on older adults who are out of work or working insufficient hours through no fault of their own but in need of help to get food on the table;
  • Medicaid, health care for low-income Americans — including the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — will have tough new work requirements and bureaucratic hurdles that end will kick millions of people off of their health insurance and jeopardizing their health and financial well-being;
  • Social Security will undergo such drastic cuts that offices may close, making benefits inaccessible or severely delayed for some.

In short, I’m talking about $3.6 trillion in cuts to programs that fund housing and home energy aid, education from preschool through college, mental health and substance use treatment, child care, medical research and much more.

After the pandemic, millions of families across the U.S. (and especially the South) are only just recovering financially or finally accessing critical health care thanks to the expanded coverage during the health emergency. These radical proposals would reverse it all, pushing people into needless economic crisis.

We have days to stop them. And we does mean we — while President Biden and his Congressional allies are working hard behind closed doors, we sent a letter and joined our national coalition partners to sign a letter advocating the protection of these programs.

Now, it’s your turn. Please click below to send a letter to your legislator demanding that they help pass a debt ceiling or budget deal that fully funds important anti-poverty programs and does not impose harsh restrictions that hurts peoples’ medical and nutritional needs.

Contact your legislator

No American is free from the direct consequences of this partisan brinkmanship. As many experts have noted, we could have a “swift and severe” economic downturn. That implicates you, and it implicates me. As MAGA Republicans play with our financial futures, we must stand together to stop them from pushing people into dire economic and health circumstances.

Please join us today. Thank you so much for your support.

Theresa Lau is Senior Policy Counsel for Eradicating Poverty.

Photo at top: U.S. Capitol building. (Credit AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)