Republican candidates have lately been parroting Charles Murray's argument that our "entitlement society" has created a nation of deadbeats who would rather live off government benefits than find a job. In response, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released a study earlier this week showing that only a fraction of government benefits go to able-bodied workers. Their estimate is about 9 percent.
A lot of programs that people think of as "welfare" actually serve the elderly, disabled, and working poor too. Medicaid is the biggest example: Most of us think of Medicaid as a program for the poor, but more than half of all Medicaid spending actually goes to the elderly and the disabled.
So what percent of each program goes to the elderly, disabled, or working poor? The bulk of both Medicare and Social Security goes to the elderly and most of the balance goes to the disabled. The Earned Income Tax Credit goes almost entirely to the working poor. (click chart below to enlarge)
- 83 percent of Medicaid goes to the elderly, disabled, or working poor, 81% to people over age of 65.
- 77 percent of Social Security to people over the age of 65.
- 79 percent of school lunches.
- 69 percent of unemployment compensation.
- 64 percent of SNAP (food stamps).
- 46 percent of TANF, the classic "welfare" program, and it's a very small program. The other 54 percent only amounts to about $6 billion, a minuscule fraction of federal benefits.
Ever since the 1996 welfare reform bill, those benefits have only been temporary. It's not possible to become dependent on TANF any longer that four years in someone's lifetime, and NOT "from cradle to the grave".
And then we have whack jobs like Michele Bachmann who was griping to conservative radio host Mark Levin that the most important piece of the extended payroll tax bill is blocking the use of welfare money in strip clubs. "They get these debit cards, they can walk into a casino, they can walk into a liquor store, they can walk into a strip club and if there's an ATM machine in there, they can use their welfare card, draw down the money and use it to pay for gambling and lap dances."
Michele Bachmann also gets paid by the government ($170,000 a year) and can do the same thing with her ATM card too, but she won't get subjected to a drug test. The bill she's referring to allows states to drug test the jobless for the first time. It will also reduce the duration of federal benefits, gradually decreasing them from 99 to 73 weeks.
Overall, only about 9 percent of government benefits go to those who could be thought of as able-bodied workers who either can't or won't find a job. Or as the Republicans say, "Deadbeats who would rather live off government benefits than find a job."
Moreover, the vast bulk of that 9 percent goes for medical care, unemployment insurance benefits (which individuals must have a significant work history to receive), and Social Security survivor benefits* for the children and spouses of deceased workers, and Social Security benefits for retirees between ages 62 and 64. Seven out of the 9 percentage points go for one of these four purposes.
*Republican congressman Paul Ryan, who wants to impose austerity measures on the rest of America, received and used these benefits for his college tuition, even though he comes from a wealthy family and is now a millionaire himself.
Sherman adds this:
Another point: Many of those who decry the growth of entitlement spending seem to forget the most basic of all facts about it: it continues to be driven overwhelmingly by the twin engines of an aging population and the rising cost of medical care. Neither of which has much to do with dependency among the working-age population.
This is especially true for medical care, I think. We spend a fair amount of money on health care services for the poor, but even theoretically that does nothing to make them less likely to work. They still need money for everything else, after all. All it does is provide them with a bare minimum of decent health care.
And as Arthur Delaney at the Huffington Post points out, "Contrary to what Mitt Romney thinks, the safety net does not automatically catch every poor or struggling person. Of 15 million people who lost jobs from 2007 to 2009, only half received unemployment insurance, according to the Government Accountability Office."
But even as Republicans gripe about deficit spending, "Red States" have been getting 30% more federal spending than their Democratic neighbors - - those Republican hypocrites, who never practice what the preach .
As a recent New York Times article documents, even as fiscally conservative lawmakers complain about wasteful government spending and "big government", their Republican constituents don't want to give up their Social Security checks, Medicare benefits, and earned income tax credits that provide a safety net for the struggling middle class.
And the current Republican gripe about "freedom of religion" is really a ploy using the issue of birth control to repeal ObamaCare, when really the Democrats only want "Medicare for all". But Republicans like Rick Santorum are more concerned about the interests of the insurance companies than the health and welfare of average Americans.
Rick Santorum had said that health insurance plans shouldn't be required to cover prenatal testing, because that testing results in more abortions, as well as contending that government-run public education was "anachronistic." But Santorum (from "birther" to birth control) helped secure more than $1 billion in earmarks during his Senate career, reflecting his hypocrisy about "big government". And he also supported earmarks for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, but now accuses Mitt Romney of using those same federal funds as a "bailout".
Members of Congress are eligible for a pension after he or she has served in Congress for at least five years. To collect, a congressman or senator must be age 62, or be age 50 with 20 years of service, or be any age with 25 years of service. Rick Santorum will never need to draw a Social Security check when he retires, but members of Congress are also eligible for Social Security...will Rick take his?
The majority of the people in America voted for Obama's agenda in 2008, not the Republican's; but the GOP has blocked Obama's proposals every step of the way. And then the Republicans keep telling the American people that "this is what the American people want". What the Republicans don't seem to understand is that, Obama, not John McCain, won the election three years ago.
The next time you hear a Republican lying about Obama's "welfare state", know that if you vote for a Republican, you'll only be voting against your own best interests.