Earlier this week, Steve Lonegan, former Republican Mayor of Bogota, New Jersey and current Senate candidate to fill New Jersey’s open Senate seat following the death of Frank Lautenberg, made some contemptuous remarks directed at single mothers who depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Appearing on MSNBC’s Up With Steve Kornacki, Lonegan’s reductive message to single mothers amounted to:
Stop relying on food stamps and go to work.
The Republican Party nominee disclaimed his insensitive remark by prefacing it with an anecdote about his own life, claiming that his mother raised him and never relied on food stamps during hard times after his father passed away. Asked what single mothers in New Jersey who have a couple of kids, don’t have healthcare, are trying to do the right thing, have low wage retail jobs and rely on SNAP ought to do, Lonegan’s reply was: “You go to work, you roll up your sleeves and you struggle with your life.”
“We never had to have SNAP, when I was a kid,” Lonegan continued, bulldozing over rebuttals to his jarring response from other panelists. “Ok, so, this thing that every single mother is the poster child for the welfare state is nonsense… I know a lot of single moms go out to work and do very, very well for themselves.”
Lonegan, served over half a decade as the New Jersey state director and Senior Policy Analyst for Americans for Prosperity, one of the most powerful conservative organizations in electoral politics, and one that was founded with the support of David H. Koch and Charles Koch, both of Koch Industries. Their stated mission is to promote public policies that favor business interests, as advocates of lower taxes and limited government. AFP has been accused numerous times of being a de facto political action group, consistently acting in violation of their tax-exempt status.
Lonegans’ prescription for struggling single mothers was to help “create an economy where single mothers can grow and prosper, get jobs, make an income, [and] get health insurance” ostensibly by voting for him, and favoring free market policies and less government regulation to free “individuals to achieve their best potential.” Lonegan asserted that “cutting the size of government across the board, freeing up businesses and cutting regulation” would help single mothers balance the demands of family and work.
Specifically, Lonegan proposed a “step in the right direction” would be “sunsetting” (the process of automatically terminating government agencies and programs after a specified period of time unless expressly reauthorized) regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, so that lawmakers could review their impact.
SNAP is one of the top assistance programs by the federal government, returning nearly two dollars in activity for each dollar the government spends. The correlation between eliminating EPA and OSHA regulations and helping single mothers feed their kids is difficult to distinguish.
This seems to be the latest example of a talking head politician echoing the big business interests of the few over the interests of the many, using a financially powered echo chamber to sell the idea that things that would benefit these individuals personally would benefit the economy at large. It’s ironic that the right-wing says big business needs more money in the form of tax cuts and de-regulation to be galvanized, yet when it comes to regular everyday Americans in actual need this same idea is then spun on its head to say it will cause the poor to lose all incentive to fend for themselves.
Not to mention Steve Lonegan’s father died a wealthy man when Lonegan was 17, so he was never “raised by a single mom” nor was he ever in a position from which to comment on the struggle of poor single mothers with such audacity and moral superiority.
Especially while his salary is 100 percent subsidized by taxpayers.
Watch the video of Lonegan on food stamps: