Summer Lee Talks Republican Default, Calls Out Washington Insiders on Jake Tapper’s State of the Union 

May 21, 2023
Press

Summer Lee Talks Republican Default, Calls Out Washington Insiders on Jake Tapper’s State of the Union 

“This isn’t about politics, it’s about people’s lives”

(Washington DC) – Today, Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12) joined Jake Tapper on State of the Union to talk about the devastating impact of the fight against Republican’s default on families like her own and why Democrats cannot cave to the GOP’s plot to cause economic catastrophe if Democrats don’t bend to their plan to strip away food and medicine from the struggling to give their billionaire donors a handout to buy another yacht.

Lee recently called on Biden to invoke the 14th amendment saying, “You don’t make a deal when it involves hacking away health care, taking food from families, stripping away school from students and making the cost of housing climb even higher. It’s time President Biden prepares to use the 14th Amendment. We CANNOT make deals on the backs of struggling Americans.”

Lee, who depended on food stamps and medicaid growing up, said, “Some of us like to use the phrase “both sides.” But the reality is that on one side there’s Washington insider beltway folks who are talking about this in terms of politics. And then on the other side, there’s the people who are impacted–human beings.  People are going to suffer if Republicans get their way, people in my own family. I’m here to fight for them. It’s not about politics, it’s about lives.”

Lee continued, “If you’re a student and you rely on Pell Grant like I did, you may not be able to go to college. Folks who are trying to lift themselves out of poverty, lift themselves into the middle class will now have their access cut off. If you are somebody who relies on SNAP benefits, TANF, Medicaid or Medicare. If you’re a veteran – Republicans are holding hostage these earned benefits that people rely on. These aren’t shameful things to rely on. These are folks who are everyday trying to make it and these are their basic needs, and Republicans are saying we’re going to cut your basic needs. We’re going to make sure your child can’t eat. This should be a non-starter. It should be a non-starter for Democrats, Republicans, and independents.”

Last week, Lee led the Congressional Progressive Caucus in a Special Order Hour on the devastating impacts the Republican Default would have on families like her own. Lee outlined many of the devastating consequences for Pennsylvanians and all Americans if Republicans get their way.

Lee said, “Republican politicians are trying to fool you into thinking that they genuinely care about spending. When they claim that if we don’t strip away food from the struggling, subsistence from seniors, and earned benefits from the elderly to give billionaires the benefits of a tax break, you and your family will pay the price–they’re lying to you. But you deserve the truth. The truth is that this isn’t about balancing a budget. This is about attacking working class, middle class, poor and marginalized Americans to serve themselves and their filthy rich friends.”

Lee continued, “This is about the single mother who, like my mother, is paid wages so low at her multiple jobs that she needs food assistance to make sure her kids don’t get on the school bus hungry. This is about the student whose great grandparents were enslaved who today’s Republicans are hellbent on keeping shackled by hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans to the point where their dream of becoming the first in their family to go to college will be torn away entirely. It’s about the moms and dads who want to work but know they won’t be able to because this Republican majority wants to raise childcare costs that are already so high that it makes more sense to stay home. It’s about your parents who could lose their ability to retire in dignity and the veteran who could lose access to treatment for PTSD after spending their life serving this country, and it’s about our grandparents who won’t be able to afford the medication they need to stay alive to meet their grandchildren if Republicans cause a default. And let’s not forget–this is also about the billionaire CEO who is bankrolling the Republican politicians behind this attack on working families to win themselves yet another handout (on top of Trump’s Tax Scam for the top 1%) that will be paid for by tearing food and shelter away from all of the folks I just described millions of families just to buy another shiny new yacht, another vacation home, or another fat check to those same politicians as a thank you for the favor.”

Full Transcript of Remarks:

I rise today on behalf of the mothers, fathers, children, sons, daughters, beloved friends and community members whose livelihoods, dignity and in some cases survival is under attack by Republicans in Congress who are threatening to crash our economy if we don’t bend to their pro-hunger, anti-family, anti-senior, anti-working class agenda to pay for handouts for their billionaire donors. 

Like so many of the folks I proudly represent, I was raised by a single mother in a working class home. When times were tough, we depended on food assistance from SNAP and health care from medicaid. I became the first in my family to go to college because I received a fully-funded Pell Grant and I’m still in hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt because I had the audacity to attend law school. I am able to be in Congress uplifting the voices of poor and working class folks in my community and across the country because of the lifelines Republicans are hell bent on tearing away. 

So let’s not get it twisted.

Right now, Republicans are trying to fool you into thinking that they genuinely care about spending. They hurt everyone with their giveaways to the price gougers that fund their campaigns, and then they turn around and blame Black folks, brown folks, poor folks, and immigrants for the mess they created. They claim that if we don’t strip away food from the struggling, subsistence from seniors, and earned benefits from the elderly to give billionaires the benefits of a tax break, you and your family will pay the price. 

They’re lying to you. 

But you deserve the truth. 

The truth is that this isn’t about balancing a budget. This is about attacking working class, middle class, poor and marginalized Americans to serve themselves and their filthy rich friends. 

The truth is that … If Republicans get their way:

In Pennsylvania alone, almost 100,000 women, children, and seniors would lose access to food assistance, over 15,000 children and parents would lose access to preschool and childcare. Housing costs would increase for over 20,000 people already struggling to keep a roof over their heads and college would get more expensive or out of reach entirely for nearly 200,000 PA students. 310 rail safety inspection days would be cut, just months after Western PA suffered from the train derailment in East Palestine. And half a million, Pennsylvanians would be at risk of losing lifesaving health care coverage under Medicaid. 

The truth is that, if Republicans don’t get their way, they’re threatening to default on our nation’s bills, crash our economy, and unleash economic catastrophe that would kill at least 7 million jobs (7,000 jobs in my Congressional district alone). They are threatening Medicare, Social Security, and veterans’ health coverage for nearly 300,000 people in the two counties I represent, threatening to increase lifetime mortgage costs by $37,000 and threatening the retirement savings of 100,000 soon-to-be seniors, eliminating $20,000 from the typical retirement portfolio. 

But this isn’t about statistics. This is about people’s lives. 

This is about the single mother who, like my mother, is paid wages so low at her multiple jobs that she needs food assistance to make sure her kids don’t get on the school bus hungry

This is about the nurse who is in medical debt to the hospital she works for, where the CEO is paid millions of dollars but she is paid so little she depends on medicaid for health care for her and her children

This is about the student who has no choice but to take on so much student debt that they know it’ll be impossible to pay it off, and might not be able to start a business, buy a home, start a family, or build the life they deserve. And it’s about the student whose great grandparents were enslaved who today’s Republicans are hellbent on keeping shackled by hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans to the point where their dream of becoming the first in their family to go to college will be torn away entirely.

This is about the child getting ready to start pre-school whose parents will now have to choose between putting gas in the tank, getting their car repaired, and giving their child the head start we know could determine their future and ability to thrive. And its about the moms and dads who want to work but know they won’t be able to because this Republican majority wants to raise childcare costs that are already so high that it makes more sense to stay home. 

It’s about your parents who could lose their ability to retire in dignity and the veteran who could lose access to treatment for PTSD after spending their life serving this country, and it’s about the grandma or grandpa who won’t be able to afford the medication they need to stay alive to meet their grandchildren if Republicans cause a default. 

This is about the billionaire CEO who is bankrolling these Republican politicians for yet another handout (on top of the Trump Tax Scam for the top 1%) that will be paid for by tearing food and shelter away from millions of families just to buy another shiny new yacht, another vacation home, or another fat check to those same politicians as a thank you for the favor. 

By forcing a choice between agreeing to their authoritarian tactics or default, Republicans are erasing the voices of millions of people in this country who oppose default, who oppose economic catastrophe, who oppose tearing away food stamps, health care, social security, medicaid and medicare. Republicans are using the threat of default to override the will of the majority of the country and silence poor and working class Americans.

We cannot and we will not let them.

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