Whoever came up with the expression “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” probably wasn’t thinking about small children who might otherwise go hungry.
And yet that was Fox News host Martha MacCallum’s deeply cynical take on Thursday afternoon as Democrats in Congress debated how much to spend on what could be a historic addition to the social safety net.
It was her guest, former Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who first brought up “the idea that free lunches could buy votes” as something that “may have been true during the worst of the pandemic, but it’s not true anymore.” But MacCallum was the one who decided to take the expression literally.
“One of the things that kills me is that now, you know, there’s a free lunch program in New Jersey. And it’s for everyone. Even if you don’t need help to send your child’s lunch to school,” she said, seemingly out of nowhere. “So, those kids are all going to grow up thinking, well, school lunch is free, right?”
“And then god help the person who comes along and tries to take that away, Larry. You talk about free lunch,” she continued, making her guest chuckle. “I mean, that will never—once that happens, right, once it’s baked in there—never going to end.”
As Media Matters’ Lis Power put it on Twitter: “Her sympathy is to the person who will try to stop feeding the children. Classic.”
Kudlow wholeheartedly agreed, lamenting that taxes would have to be raised to pay for new social programs, without mentioning that those taxes would mostly fall on the wealthiest Americans. “Common-sense Americans know this is not right,” he said. “They don’t want big government socialism, they don’t want a welfare state we’re all dependent on.”