U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in an interview with Sky News on Monday that America can “certainly” afford to “support Israel’s military needs” as well as “support Ukraine in its struggle against Russia.”
The remark went viral on X, with some users commenting sarcastically that that was the reason why America couldn’t afford a variety of social programs, from publicly funded healthcare to maternity leave.
Yellen said that the U.S. economy and public finances were in “good shape,” reported Sky News, powered by an easing in inflation. She also called on Republicans to elect a speaker so the House of Representatives could pass a package with funds for Israel and Ukraine.
“This is a priority,” Yellen said.
“the united states can’t afford universal healthcare, free public education, ridding people of their student loans, paid maternity leave for all, food price drops but ofc, they can suddenly afford this,” commented @filmsvalmont.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. has given $43.9 billion to Ukraine in security assistance since the Ukraine-Russia war began in February 2022, with another $24 billion request put in by the Biden administration in August. Israel, which is the U.S. largest recipient of foreign aid since World War Two, has received $150 billion from the U.S., not adjusted for inflation.
A 2016 official memo between the countries called for $38 billion in military aid for Israel between 2019-2028.
“This is fucking INFURIATING,” @martinsheen_ said on X in reaction to Yellen’s statement. “We can absolutely afford another war but no universal healthcare, student debt cancellation, infrastructure or a universal basic income. There’s always money to destroy lives and never any to build them.”
“We can’t afford to provide free lunch to children in our public schools though,” said @FeministaJones.
School meals cost around $21 billion a year in 2019, according to an analysis by Matt Bruenig in Jacobin, with public subsidies already covering $15.5 billion of the cost.
Other users mocked Yellen’s priorities.
“Have we considered declaring a war on student loans” asked one user.
“On health insurance?” chimed in another.
“Me at the end of the month with 10 bucks in my bank account thinking about drinking” joked @LRH_Superfan about the U.S. convincing itself it could support additional wars.