Jason Chaffetz Tells Poor Americans to Choose Between iPhones and Health Care

The condescension was palpable.


While promoting the details of a new Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) advised low-income Americans to resist purchasing new iPhones and prioritize purchasing health care coverage instead. The remarks came as Chaffetz defended the plan’s elimination of the individual mandate, which Obamacare proponents have long maintained is crucial to keeping health care costs down for the people who need it the most.

“Americans have choices—and they’ve got to make a choice,” Chaffetz said during an appearance on CNN’s New Day on Tuesday morning. “So maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”

“They’ve got to make those decisions themselves,” he continued.

Chaffetz’s recommendation on Tuesday is consistent with the long-held belief among many conservatives that poor people don’t manage their money well and therefore require strict restrictions on what they can buy using government food aid, for example. Such views persist despite evidence that poor people are no more likely to buy the groceries that conservatives want to limit, such as soda and other sugary foods, than people who don’t receive federal aid.

Chaffetz later appeared to walk back his iPhone comment, telling Fox News it did not come out as “smoothly” as he intended.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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