Who’s on Welfare?

February 22, 2015 by  

Numbers don’t lie.  The War on Poverty has cost us $22 Trillion so far, and rising.

  • One third of Americans now take “need-based” payments (14% of GDP)
  • Benefit transfers to individuals through social welfare programs have increased from less than one federal dollar in four (24%) in 1963 to almost 3 out of 5 (59%) in 2013
  • In fact, Americans’ fastest growing source of personal income are welfare entitlements.

  • Between 1983 and 2012, the population increased by almost 83 million — and people accepting means-tested benefits increased by 67 million
  • For every 100-person increase in the population there was an 80-person increase in the recipients of means-tested payments
  • And food stamp recipients increased from 19 million to 51 million — more than the combined populations of 24 states.  Why?

George Will’s, “The Mushrooming Welfare State” cites the data published in the Atlantic Quarterly by Nicholas Eberstadt, asking what has changed?  Not the numbers of people below the poverty line (15.2 percent in 1983; 15 percent in 2012). Rather, poverty programs have become untethered from the official designation of poverty.  

But along with expanding dependency, something else is changing:  America’s character – including corruption.

Example #1: Since 1970, Eberstadt states, “Americans have become healthier, work has become less physically stressful, the workplace has become safer — and yet there has been an almost six-fold increase in claims from Social Security Disability Insurance.”

Example #2: The positive impact on employment when unemployment compensation ran out and the disincentives UE benefits can create.  In a 2014 Harris Poll of 1,500 unemployed Americans, 82 percent said they would search “harder and wider” for a job if their unemployment compensation ran out.  Almost half reported not having had to look for work as hard because of the benefits It’s human nature.  Read Cutting Unemployment Benefits Created Jobs.

Medicaid is welfare, too.  Though it is often referred to as ‘insurance’ or ‘coverage’, Arizona’s Medicaid program, AHCCCS, is taypayer-funded health care.  It was intended to serve as a safety net for the poor, but with one out of every five Arizonans eligible for the program, the net is threadbare from too heavy a burden.  (See Welfare Reform Must Include Medicaid.)

Since welfare programs can and do hurt the very people they aim to help by providing an incentive not to work, I’ve sponsored SB 1092 – a bill to reform Arizona’s Medicaid program by including:

  • Work/training requirements for able-bodied individuals
  • Cost-sharing/co-pays
  • Common sense restrictions on Non-emergent Emergency Room visits
  • Five year capitation – with exceptions (able-bodied eligible persons could only be on the program for 5 years)

All are important steps states should take to restore the original intent of our Constitution and America’s character.

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”  Thomas Jefferson

And what about Social Security?  Unless we act soon – well that’s another shoe ready to drop.


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