WASHINGTON, March 13, 2017—Apparently Jason Chaffetz does not need to choose between buying that new iPhone and paying for health insurance, like lower-income Americans. Of course, unlike most people, Chaffetz is eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance and it turns out campaign donors pay for his iPhone and his phone service.
Chaffetz attracted attention last week in a CNN interview, when he said lower-income individuals had to make a choice between getting a new iPhone and paying for their health insurance.
“You know what? Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice,” Chaffetz said. “And so, maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love, and that they want to go and spend hundreds of dollars on that–maybe they should invest it in their own healthcare.”
Even though Chaffetz tried to walk back his statement after the media backlash, his statement was not only insincere; it is also extremely hypocritical.
An iPhone costs between $649 and $769, while the average annual cost of health insurance costs between $2,160 and $5,112 depending on the state. On other words, the cost of an iPhone would not pay for two months of health insurance in most states. Additionally, CNN quotes a Pew survey that found that only 13 percent of the low-income individuals targeted by Chaffetz’s comment used an iPhone in 2013. Another 2015 Pew study found 23 percent of this same group was forced to suspend or cancel their service due to monetary limitations.
Ironically, according to Federal Election Commission filings and reported in Computerworld.com, Chaffetz and his office used $2,866.81 at the Salt Lake City Apple store in 2016.
While paying for a cell phone and other handheld devices with campaign funds is allowed under House ethics guidelines, it shows Chaffetz’s hypocrisy and how out of touch he is with the realities faced by millions of Americans.
Featured image: Michael Jolley, Flickr Creative Commons