GOP congressman: My stepdad needed government aid so no one else should have it

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Rep. Kevin Herd (R-OK) wants to 'make America tired again' because he's personally opposed to unemployment benefits.

Asking Congress to "make America tired again," Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK) on Wednesday argued against extending unemployment benefits for millions.

Hern cited his personal experience to make his case, arguing that "government dependence" had "incentivized" his stepfather "to stay home rather than work."

Hern's comments came during a session of the House Ways and Means Committee, where legislators were considering elements of the COVID-19 relief bill making its way through Congress.

The legislation package, backed by President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats, provides unemployment insurance for 18 million Americans through September. Many who would receive benefits are out of work due to the pandemic, which has already claimed over 468,000 lives.

But, despite the severity of the situation, Hern railed against the "government dependence" he said would be created by a "bill that fails to target aid where it's needed most."

"My childhood is marked by the dependence on government aid that incentivized my stepdad to stay home rather than work," said Hern. "I've seen what the welfare system does to families. It's built to hold them down rather than to help them up."

Hern said he chose not to follow the path of his stepfather and went on to create successful business, concluding, " There is no social program quite like a job, a hard-earned paycheck is infinitely more valuable than anything from the unemployment office."

But millions of Americans, despite their desire to go to work, are unable to do so at full capacity due to the virus.

In Hern's home state there have been over 406,000 virus infections and more than 3,800 people have died. Tens of thousands in Oklahoma are currently in need of unemployment aid.

From a Feb. 10 hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee:

KEVIN HERN: This is my first markup with the committee, and I'm disappointed to see how it's spent so much of its partisanship on this bill that fails to target aid where it's needed most.

 

Since I'm new to this committee, I think my colleagues should know that I understand the issues we're dealing with today on a personal level. I grew up in poverty, unsure if the lights would still be on when I got home from school, if there would be food on the dinner table when I came home at night.

 

My childhood is marked by the dependence on government aid that incentivized my stepdad to stay home rather than work. I've seen what the welfare system does to families. It's built to hold them down rather than to help them up.

 

At a young age, I decided that the example set by my stepdad was not the life I wanted, and I put myself to work. I worked harder and longer than anyone because I knew that my work ethic is what would pull me out of poverty and change the course of my life.

 

I was right, and now I've spent over 34 years as a business owner and job creator across many industries in my communities. There is no social program quite like a job. A hard-earned paycheck is infinitely more valuable than anything from the unemployment office.

 

We need to put Americans back to work. Make America tired again.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.