Tennessee Republican congressional candidate Scottie Mayfield referred to Medicaid and welfare recipients as "non-taxpayers" in a position paper he released on Wednesday, saying it was time that taxpayers stop subsidizing these programs.
"Social Security and Medicare are programs we've promised to older Americans and they are entitled to them," Mayfield wrote. "Medicaid is not an entitlement. Welfare is not an entitlement. These and many other programs are charity, taking from one taxpayer and giving to a non-taxpayer."
But as Chris Carroll in the Chattanooga Times Free Press noted, Mayfield's comment is inaccurate:
The paper omits two facts -- that some [Medicaid recipients] have jobs and collect paychecks with regular deductions for Social Security, Medicare and other government-funded programs, and that all Medicaid enrollees who live in Tennessee pay state sales tax every time they buy groceries.
Records show that 1.2 million Tennesseans are enrolled in TennCare, the state's Medicaid program for poor, elderly and disabled residents. TennCare spokeswoman Kelly Gunderson said she could not provide a firm percentage or number of enrollees with jobs.
"But I can confirm with you that, yes, there are members of our program that are employed," Gunderson said.
Mayfield is challenging Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) in the GOP primary in the state's 3rd Congressional District. Last month, Mayfield had to apologize to Fleischmann after Mayfield's adult son slashed a tire on the car of an aide to the congressman.
Bill Taylor, the Democrat running in the 3rd District, also told the Times Free Press that Mayfield's statement about Medicaid and welfare was inaccurate.
"Just because they may not have jobs doesn't mean they're not paying sales tax and, in their rent, an element of property tax," Taylor said. "I know small business owners who don't make a whole lot of money and they're on TennCare. I'd say they're contributing to the economy."