NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 1, 2006

If welfare reform is considered a success, then why not apply the same principles to others who get government money?  Most of what the government does could be called welfare, using a very broad definition of the word.  The result of this largesse is a society that is unproductively dependent on government support -- and politically organized to keep it coming, says USA Today.

Agriculture is a leading example.  Supports have become a sad hoax on the U.S. taxpayer.  According to a recent report by the Washington Post:

  • The government has handed out $1.3 billion since 2000 to people who don't even farm.
  • It has sent billions of dollars in drought relief to areas where there was no drought.
  • It has paid out a staggering $144 billion over 10 years, according to the National Taxpayers Union, 72 percent of which went to the 10 percent of farmers with the largest holdings.

Then there are the federal entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Escalating medical costs and the aging of the population will soon make them unaffordable, ensuring benefit cuts, tax increases or both.  Some steps toward greater responsibility could help, says USA Today, including:

  • Reducing incentives for early retirement
  • Increasing premiums and co-payments for wealthy Medicare recipients

Overall, Congress earmarked 15,877 items worth $47.4 billion to specific recipients last year, many of them companies with well-connected Washington lobbyists.  It's no wonder the government will spend $300 billion more than it collects this year.  Restoring fiscal sanity will require controlling welfare payments -- and not just those going to the poor.

Source: Editorial, "Hooked on Handouts," USA Today, August 1, 2006

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