The Welfare State’s 110 Million

welfare-state-hist

How long can a shrinking number of taxpayers support a growing number of beneficiaries? 

For NROMichael Tanner writes: One hundred ten million! That’s how many Americans now live in households that receive some form of means-tested welfare benefit from the federal government. According to a report from the Census Bureau released last week, that’s the highest absolute number inzombiehand American history, and it represents 35.4 percent of the American population.

[Check out Michael Tanner’s book Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservativism Brought Down the Republican Revolution”]

Think about it — more than one out of every three Americans live in households that are now on welfare. Looked at another way, America’s welfare state now has nearly three times the population of the largest actual state.

“According to calculations by Harvard’s Greg Mankiw, based on data from the Office of Management and Budget, roughly 60 percent of Americans receive more in government benefits than they pay in federal taxes.”

Because many of these households include more than one person, the number of individual households is smaller, but still a record – roughly 33.5 million, more than a quarter of the country’s households. Worse, 10.5 million households receive benefits from three or more separate programs.

HEWWashingtonD.C

1943, Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Washington, D.C

 “A Tax Foundation study suggests that as many as 70 percent of Americans are net recipients of government largesse. Those numbers will only grow worse…”

While liberals would undoubtedly like to blame this on the bad economy, the welfare rolls have actually grown by nearly 4 million households since the end of the recession. Welfare is rising even as unemployment declines.

On the other hand, the growing welfare caseload cannot be blamed solely on President Obama. True, the number of people on welfare has increased by 12.5 million since he took office. But welfare also increased during the Bush administration: The proportion of households receiving SNAP (food stamps), TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), or SSI (Supplemental Security Income for the disabled) increased 36 percent during his presidency.

And none of these numbers include the middle-class social-welfare programs like Medicare and Social Security. Counting these programs, more than 153 million Americans, nearly half the population (49.5 percent), are living in households now dependent on government for a significant portion of their income…(read more)

National Review Online

— Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservativism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

 


2 Comments on “The Welfare State’s 110 Million”


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