Industrial Insight

How can we cut the federal budget when we are all getting checks?? | April 12, 2011

http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2011/04/11/weve_promised_more_than_we_can_deliver_98956.html#

April 11, 2011

We’ve Promised More Than We Can Deliver

By Robert Samuelson

Few Americans realize the extent of their dependency. The Census Bureau reports that in 2009 almost half (46.2 percent) of the 300 million Americans received at least one federal benefit: 46.5 million, Social Security; 42.6 million, Medicare; 42.4 million, Medicaid; 36.1 million, food stamps; 3.2 million, veterans’ benefits; 12.4 million, housing subsidies. The census list doesn’t include tax breaks. Counting those, perhaps three-quarters or more of Americans receive some sizable government benefit. For example, about 22 percent of taxpayers benefit from the home mortgage interest deduction and 43 percent from the preferential treatment of employer-provided health insurance, says the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

“Once politics was about only a few things; today, it is about nearly everything,” writes the eminent political scientist James Q. Wilson in a recent collection of essays (“American Politics, Then and Now”). The concept of “vital national interest” is stretched. We deploy government casually to satisfy any mass desire, correct any perceived social shortcoming or remedy any market deficiency. What has abetted this political sprawl, notes Wilson, is the rising influence of “action intellectuals” – professors, pundits, “experts” – who provide respectable rationales for various political agendas.

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