VIDEO: Advocates, Constituents on Capitol Hill Demand McCarthy and MAGA Lawmakers “Back Off Our Benefits” Amid Looming Default Crisis
While McCarthy Speaks to Wall Street Executives, Constituents Blast Him for Prioritizing the Wealthy Over Working-Class Americans
Video, Audio, and Photos from All Bus Tour Stops Available In Our Press Kit
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, after Speaker Kevin McCarthy delivered remarks reassuring Wall Street billionaires and bankers that his default crisis plan prioritizes their interests, Courage for America held a press conference at the U.S. Capitol with advocates, allies, and one of McCarthy’s own constituents demanding that he stop using the debt limit as an excuse to threaten cuts to life-saving programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, and veterans’ benefits.
The Capitol Hill press conference was the final stop of the campaign’s 20-day, cross-country “Back Off Our Benefits” bus tour, which made stops in 13 congressional districts represented by Republicans. For today’s event, the group was joined by advocates from Common Defense, MoveOn, Patriotic Millionaires, Public Citizen, Social Security Works, the Alliance for Retired Americans, NAACP, Community Change Action, American Medical Student Association, Unrig Our Economy, and the American Federation of Teachers to call on MAGA politicians to stop playing politics with people’s lives.
Advocates then delivered a petition signed by over 150k Americans to Speaker McCarthy’s office demanding that he protect the hard-earned benefits of American seniors, working parents, children, veterans, and people with disabilities.
(All images free for use with credit to Courage for America)
Congressman John B. Larson (D, CT-01):
- “As Martin Luther King would say, what we have confronting us in America with regard to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare is the fierce urgency of now. […] Rise up, America, get behind Courage for America, and have the courage to speak out about Social Security and all the benefits that it provides.”
Imelda Ceja-Butkiewicz, a McCarthy constituent and public health advocate:
- “Kevin McCarthy is my Congressman, but he is also America’s Speaker of the House, which is why my fight didn’t end at home. I traveled hundreds of miles to be here today, because it’s time Speaker McCarthy makes this promise to America.”
- “My retirement is under threat. I am scared. I am hurt. I am angry, but I am not silent. They don’t care about our futures or benefits or how we’re going to put food on the table. They’re more interested in protecting the wealthy and refusing to make them pay their fair share — PAC money and power over rights and freedom.”
Jamal R. Watkins, senior vice president of strategy and advancement at the NAACP:
- “The individuals who are prowling the halls of Congress behind us have to do their job not only to vote, but to vote in the right way to ensure that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all of the benefits that flow to the American people, to working people, [and] to Black and Brown communities happens — because if we don’t, then we’re gonna lose a lot more than we’ve seen historically.”
Laura Packard, executive director of Health Care Voter:
- “We’re on this tour going coast to coast sharing personal stories to make them listen. We’re the people you don’t always hear about, but these benefits affect every single one of us. […] Every single one of us is at risk when Kevin McCarthy and the MAGA Republicans put our benefits on the chopping block.”
- “We’re here to tell Speaker Kevin McCarthy to back off our benefits. He’s in New York, playing with his Wall Street buddies, but we’re here because we need to be heard.”
Michael Fanone, former MPD Officer and Courage for America council member:
- “[McCarthy has] now been Speaker for 100 days and what does he have to show for it? Political blustering and nonsense that have done nothing to make life better for average Americans. Meanwhile, he has forced our economy to the brink of a national — and potentially global disaster — using the debt limit as an excuse to push a part of his agenda that he knows is not going to go over well with regular people.”
- “While you’re on Wall Street today reassuring some of the wealthiest people in the country that you’re looking out for them, we are here at your place of work to remind you that you are supposed to be working for us. Your political games aren’t worth our livelihoods. They’re not worth the health and stability of our national and global economies.”
Naveed Shah, a U.S. army veteran and political director of Common Defense:
- “Republican leadership is grossly out of touch with the reality of everyday Americans.”
- “In this the greatest and wealthiest country in the world, which I proudly served in the Army, we should be able to provide for our people, for our hardworking citizens, so they can live with dignity and respect. [We’re] here today to ask our elected leaders to make a simple promise to protect our hard-earned benefits.”
Syanne Centeno-Bloom, a disability rights activist:
- “Eliminating these programs which we have paid into and are in many cases, the only way people with disabilities can access life saving care, is akin to eugenics. For many more. It is a death sentence. […] Cutting Social Security and Medicare conveys that our lives don’t actually matter.”
- “It is outrageous that Republican leaders would even consider sunsetting programs like Social Security. Given that many of their own constituents — including people who voted for them and place their trust in them — rely on these programs. It is time for them to stop betraying their voters and start serving the interests of the American people.”
- “It should be no issue for them to sign a simple promise that they will not cut these essential programs. But to this day, after stops in 13 districts and 20 days spent traveling across the country to make that ask, Republicans have chosen to ignore us.”
Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn:
- “Kevin McCarthy is presiding over a mess of his own making. While the overwhelming majority of Americans and millions of MoveOn members want Social Security and Medicaid protected and a quick passage of a clean debt ceiling bill, the House Republicans that McCarthy leads want to risk our country going into default through their manufactured MAGA debt ceiling crisis. As the Speaker returns from recess, it is time for him to show his budget, tell his MAGA right-wing base to stop pushing for cuts to Social Security and Medicaid and commit to a clean passage of a debt ceiling bill — and MoveOn members across the country are ready to make that case in district after district.”
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