Nearly half of U.S. households receiving government benefits

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-05-2011
Nearly half of U.S. households receiving government benefits
18
Wed, 10-05-2011 - 5:13pm

So half the population of the U.S. pays no income tax, and about half the households in the U.S. have a member who receives some sort of government benefit. No wonder we are a nation divided. I've read some referring to Obama as the food stamp President or the Medicaid President. He seems to believe government can solve just about all our problems.

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/10/05/nearly-half-of-households-receive-some-government-benefit/tab/print/

Families were more dependent on government programs than ever last year.

Nearly half, 48.5%, of the population lived in a household that received some type of government benefit in the first quarter of 2010, according to Census data. Those numbers have risen since the middle of the recession when 44.4% lived households receiving benefits in the third quarter of 2008.

The share of people relying on government benefits has reached a historic high, in large part from the deep recession and meager recovery, but also because of the expansion of government programs over the years. (See a timeline on the history of government benefits programs here.)

Means-tested programs, designed to help the needy, accounted for the largest share of recipients last year. Some 34.2% of Americans lived in a household that received benefits such as food stamps, subsidized housing, cash welfare or Medicaid (the federal-state health care program for the poor).

Another 14.5% lived in homes where someone was on Medicare (the health care program for the elderly). Nearly 16% lived in households receiving Social Security.

High unemployment and increased reliance on government programs has also shrunk the nation’s share of taxpayers. Some 46.4% of households will pay no federal income tax this year, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That’s up from 39.9% in 2007, the year the recession began.

Most of those households will still be hit by payroll taxes. Just 18.1% of households pay neither payroll nor federal income taxes and they are predominantly the nation’s elderly and poorest families.

The tandem rise in government-benefits recipients and fall in taxpayers has been cause for alarm among some policymakers and presidential hopefuls.

Benefits programs have come under closer scrutiny as policymakers attempt to tame the federal government’s budget deficit. President Barack Obama and members of Congress considered changes to Social Security and Medicare as part of a grand bargain (that ultimately fell apart) to raise the debt ceiling earlier this year. Cuts to such programs could emerge again from the so-called “super committee,” tasked with releasing a plan to rein in the deficit.

Republican presidential hopefuls, meanwhile, have latched onto the fact that nearly half of households pay no federal income tax, saying too many Americans aren’t paying their fair share.

UPDATE: Nearly half of the population lives in a household that has at least one member who receives some kind of government benefit. An earlier headline incorrectly suggested that half of American households receive some government benefit. Due to differences in household size that isn’t the case.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2011
Yep, that's what happens when you have the elderly on Social Security, disabled people receiving aid, and high unemployment numbers. I'm glad that there is some safety net for those folks.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2009

The way the WSJ jiggers with statistics and numbers to make headlines--always interesting.

Jabberwocka

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-05-2011
Anything subsidized will grow.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-05-2011
Err, Bush ended the war with Iraq and would have had us pulled out by now per his treaty with that nation. Obama decided to keep troops in. Afghanistan is supported by Bush, but also by Obama. I recall complaints (justified complaints) about Medicare D being written mostly by drug company lobbyists. The alternative would be to have no Medicare D at all. It barely passed.

Lately it seems that 99 weeks of unemployment, government training for various types of jobs (green jobs that may not exist) are increasingly popular. Obamacare may put the majority of our population on Medicaid in a few years.

The desire of elected officials to spend seems insatiable. Wars end, entitlements seem to last forever.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2011
Oh, so just ignore the fact that unemployment is so high because there simply aren't enough jobs to go around.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-05-2011
Unemployment is high for many reasons.

1) We are industry hostile as a culture, and our government policy reflects this.

2) We are failing to train and educate our children in basic academics and treat vocational education as inferior to college.

3) We are a very litigious society.

4) It is easier to collect benefits than work for many who have limited skills or education.

5) Government borrowing makes the dollar a very bad long term bet. Locking a large business into the U.S. means locking it into a dollar which will be very weak long term due to tremendous government deficit spending.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-2009
) We are industry hostile as a culture, and our government policy reflects this.

BS

2) We are failing to train and educate our children in basic academics and treat vocational education as inferior to college.

Can;t disagree with that - Pay your local state and local taxes.

3) We are a very litigious society.
Ok., your point?

4) It is easier to collect benefits than work for many who have limited skills or education.

Really?

5) Government borrowing makes the dollar a very bad long term bet. Locking a large business into the U.S. means locking it into a dollar which will be very weak long term due to tremendous government deficit spending.

Not so. Why is investment in the dollar stronger than ever even with interest rates less than 2%?
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2009
Hogwash. Bush didn't end the war in Iraq, nor did he instigate a draw-down. What he did do, near the end of his own miserable term of office, was declare that "a successful end is in sight". http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=52212 Politician speak. Means NOTHING.

Show us, DO, the treaty in which Bush agreed to a troop drawdown by a specific deadline. Here's a hint, there was no formal treaty. There WAS a declaration of principles and a SOFA--neither of which contained any terms which "would have had us pulled out by now". http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/revealed-secret-plan-to-keep-iraq-under-us-control-840512.html If you have access to information which proves otherwise, by all means post it.

As for Medicare D, Bush and other Republicans championed it; regardless of who wrote the actual legislation. http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/19/republican-budget-hypocrisy-health-care-opinions-columnists-bruce-bartlett.html

Green jobs would exist if the vested interests which are protecting status quo would stop using gorilla tactics to intimidate, brainwash, and befuddle the public into believing that finite filthy fossil fuel is the future.

Last but not least, I am truly stunned that anybody would see a war as preferable to entitlements, at least in terms of persistence. Wow. Words fail me and that's saying something.

Jabberwocka

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2011
Thanks for answering. Saved me the time.

I see that once again someone is completely ignoring the fact that there are not enough jobs for unemployed workers.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-05-2011
Most investment in treasury bonds is from the federal reserve. Rates are kept low because we send ourselves IOU's and agree to loan money to ourselves at below market rates. If the federal reserve stopped printing money, and we had to borrow at the market rate, there likely wouldn't be any treasury bond selling for under 7% and interest rates on most home equity lines or credit and credit cards would skyrocket to 12% or more.

We have an artificial economy, we are printing money with no backing. If Europe weren't ahead of us on the meltdown curve, our dollar would be worthless. When Europe either crashes or recovers, the U.S. is going to have very weak currency and may not be able to sell dollar denominated debt to foreign investors.

As to why litigation is bad, we are spending considerable quantities of our wealth to fight over innovation and prohibit it. Many invest in patent portfolio's which often are for dubious inventions. These portfolio's are then used to sue various targets. This causes no innovation. This is one example. There are many others.

Our litigation system has become more of a cultural hindrance than help of late.

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