Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) conducts a news conference

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) conducts a news conference outside the Capitol to reintroduce the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Mondaire Jones Warns Against Watering Down Human Infrastructure Proposals

The New York Democrat is advocating universal programs, not means-tested ones, for programs in the Build Back Better plan.

Andrea Germanos

Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones on Sunday criticized efforts to include means-testing requirements on programs in his party's reconciliation package as an approach that is not cost-effective and that could exclude those most in need.

The vocal opposition to means-testing from Jones and other progressive Democrats came amid a push by conservative Democrats including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to pare back the climate and safety net package by imposing income limits on proposals like Medicare expansion.

"When you force people to prove that they qualify for a social program," Jones (D-N.Y.) told MSNBC's Ali Velshi, "you have to create processes and an entire administration to then verify eligibility."

"We know that that is overly burdensome for the neediest Americans, people who... can't obtain the documentation they need," he said.

A further problem, Jones continued, is that people "may be intimidated by the countless pages that they have to complete in many instances—in many instances complex pages."

"We know that universal programs are popular," he said. "There's a reason why Social Security and Medicare have withstood the test of time despite the best efforts by Republicans to roll those programs back."

Jones echoed some of the arguments against means-testing he made in a Washington Post joint op-ed last week with Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.).

"For [President Joe] Biden’s agenda to meet its potential, we must heed the lessons of the past," Jones and Porter wrote. "That means making our investments universal."

"We can’t, as some have insisted, weaken the proposals by 'means-testing' them: restricting benefits only to those who meet arbitrary income requirements and who have the ability to prove they do."

In that joint op-ed, as well as in his interview with Velshi, Jones pointed to 2011 research from the Center for Economic and Policy Research that found "meanstesting is not an effective route for reducing the cost of Social Security" and could in fact raise the costs of the program.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Dems Mark Anniversary of 13th Amendment With Calls to 'Close the Slavery Loophole'

"Prison labor is slave labor. Pass the #AbolitionAmendment."

Jessica Corbett ·


Urging Dems to 'Fight for Justice,' Progressives Launch 'Pass the PRO Act Holiday Tour'

"We've seen time and time again, when Democrats don't deliver quickly for their base and for labor, bad things happen, and you're approaching that precipice again."

Brett Wilkins ·


Dems Urge DOJ Antitrust Probe Into $43 Billion Discovery-WarnerMedia Merger

"Giant corporations must not be allowed to stomp out competition, put up barriers to enter the market, and continue to exclude Latinos from the media industry."

Jessica Corbett ·


DOJ Lawsuit Challenging Texas Gerrymandering Met With Applause, Calls for Action in Congress

"While we are grateful for the involvement of the federal government, what we need to stop the five-decade cycle of having to take legal action every 10 years is for Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Nobody Is Above the Law': Elizabeth Warren Applauds SEC Probe of Trump's Social Media Venture

"There may have been serious violations of securities laws during the proposed merger of Digital World Acquisition Corp. and Trump's media company," said the Massachusetts Democrat.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo