Lauren Boebert rants against welfare at CPAC but oversees counties with highest state unemployment

US Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) speaks to a reporter during a visit to the border wall near Pharr, Texas on June 30, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)
US Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) speaks to a reporter during a visit to the border wall near Pharr, Texas on June 30, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)

Colorado Republican Rep Lauren Boebert bombastically told the US federal government during the CPAC conference to “leave us the hell alone”.

“We’re here to tell the government: ‘we don’t want your benefits, we don’t want your welfare’,” she said on Saturday night. “Don’t come knocking on my door with your Fauci ouchie – you leave us the hell alone.”

But the four counties in Colorado with the highest unemployment rate in the state are all in Ms Boebert’s district, meaning many of her constituents are reliant on government support. The statewide unemployment rate in Colorado was 6.2 per cent in May of this, according to the most recent Federal Reserve Economic Data.

Out of the state’s 64 counties, four have an unemployment rate of eight per cent or higher: San Miguel (11.4 per cent), Pitkin (8.5), Pueblo (8), and Huerfano (8) – all located in the 3rd Congressional District.

The district covers around half of Colorado’s land mass and is home to just over 755,000 people, according to census data from 2019.

Pitkin County was also the biggest receiver of Paycheck Protection Programme business loans per capita in the state, according to a CNN database. Pitkin County received $38,350,000 in loans backed by the Small Business Administration – or $215,849,609 per 100,000 residents.

Denver County, represented by Democratic Rep Diana DeGette, has received the second-most PPP loans per capita in Colorado at $177,465,687 per 100,000 residents – $1,290,550,000 in total.

“A large number of her constituents do rely on government money to buy food and put roofs over their heads,” CNN reporter Daniel Dale said on Monday morning.

“Colorado has received significant government money during the coronavirus pandemic, 60 billion in total, including 15 billion through the paycheck protection program,” he added.

“A whole bunch of businesses have taken much-needed money, from retirement communities to a dry goods store to a dental clinic,” Mr Dale said referring to entities in Ms Boebert’s district. “This view she expressed certainly is not shared by everyone she is purporting to represent.”

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a federal jobless benefit that sends money to Colorado residents who haven’t paid into the state’s unemployment insurance system.

Governors in 26 states have chosen to end most or all of their federal benefits early. Governors in 22 states have already pulled the plug and four more will end their programmes by 31 July.

According to the National Employment Law Project, 4.7 million workers face having their unemployment benefits cut off early.

“While these premature, ill-advised and cruel cessations of benefits will harm all workers who need them, the brunt of the impact will be felt by Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other people of colour,” a NELP report stated.

Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis has said that he’s not ending the federal unemployment benefits in his state early. Included in the programme are a $300 weekly support payment, payments to users of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programme, and extended benefits to individuals who have used up their eligible state-level benefits.

The federal programme ends in Colorado on 4 September, the Colorado Sun reported.

“Congress shouldn’t be paying out these benefits if they do not want states to use it. If Colorado ended these benefits prematurely, it would harm individuals, business owners and the broader economy,” Mr Polis wrote in a letter to three Congressional Colorado Republicans, including Ms Boebert, who wanted him to put an end to the strengthened federal benefits.

The letter was a response to a message from the three Republicans, who argued that “this benefit was meant to provide temporary relief, not be a permanent addition to unemployment benefits”.

The Independent has reached out to Ms Boebert for comment.

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