In this April 17, 2023, file photo, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, holds an event to mark 100 days of the Republican majority in the House at the Capitol in Washington. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

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As ransom for raising our nation’s debt limit and avoiding a catastrophic default, Republicans in Congress are demanding enactment of legislation that will limit access to safety net programs for those who are least able to survive without public assistance. GOP members in the House of Representatives seek to expand work requirements on recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and Medicaid (MaineCare here) in hope of preserving trillions of dollars in Trump-era tax cuts that  favor the most wealthy.

The conservatives who are demanding the eligibility changes ignore that these tax cuts and the cost of needless Middle East wars have greater responsibility for our ballooned budget deficits. Under the guise of fiscal responsibility, Republican lawmakers will be hurting the most vulnerable among struggling families. I think they know that many low-income Americans cannot hold a job because of mental illness, physical disability or other factors beyond their control. The work requirement proposals come at a time of recent, steep reductions in food stamp benefits, soaring inflation and heightened food insecurity.

Any good faith effort to impose work requirements should at the very least provide those who would lose their benefits with ready access to case management services which would help them find work and submit the newly required forms showing their continued eligibility.

James Moore