1789, “common defense and general welfare”; 2015, # of grants and subsidies has run amok

By Russ Phillips The most accountable government is that which is closest to the people. Thus, the least accountable is that which is furthest away. That’s why it is best, when possible, to have government functions located in the cities, towns, townships and counties. However, at times it is necessary to have functions determined at the state level and the federal level. The federal government over the years has taken on way too many responsibilities and this is very apparent when examining the various tax incentives provided to corporations and … Continue reading

Ben Carson: “…get rid of all government subsidies…”

By Russ Phillips During the 10/28/15 GOP Debate Carson said, “Well, first of all, I was wrong about taking the oil subsidy. I have studied that issue in great detail. And what I have concluded is that the best policy is to get rid of all government subsidies, and get the government out of our lives, and let people rise and fall based on how good they are. And — you know, all of this too big to fail stuff and picking and choosing winners and losers — this is a … Continue reading

U.S. Avoids Debt Default as Congress Passes Fiscal Plan (See how your Congressional member voted)

(This “Fiscal Plan” – Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 – with the vote of each member of Congress will be found here. – Admin.) Bloomberg.com By Terrence Dopp and Kathleen Miller 10/30/15 Bill goes to Obama for his signature before Nov. 3 deadline Agreement ends month of turmoil for House Republicans Congress passed a two-year bipartisan budget plan that avoids a default on U.S. debt, increases spending on domestic and defense programs and ends months of turmoil among House Republicans. The 64-35 Senate vote early Friday, following House passage two … Continue reading

Jeb Bush: My Plan to Preserve, Protect and Reform Medicare and Social Security

Yesterday Bush published on his campaign website “Jeb Bush: My Plan to Preserve, Protect and Reform Medicare and Social Security“. Here are several excerpts:

  • …changes are needed to preserve and protect these programs for future generations.
  • I will allow seniors to keep their HSAs to help cover out-of-pocket health care spending…
  • …small businesses who cannot afford to contribute toward workers’ retirement plans can set up “starter 401(K)s” for their workers…
  • …we need to recognize that Americans are living longer, healthier lives, and we should make it easier for those who choose to work longer.
  • No senior who has worked for more than 30 years should live in poverty, so I will increase the minimum social security benefit.

The entire “Plan” is available at the above link.

Also, “Jeb Bush’s entitlement reforms,” by The Washington Post is available here.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Cato Institute
Cato.org

The federal government is running huge budget deficits, spending too much, and heading toward a financial crisis. Without a change of direction in Washington, average working families will be faced with large tax increases and a lower standard of living.

This website is designed to help policymakers and the public understand where federal spending goes and how to reform each government department. It describes the failings of agencies and identifies specific programs to cut. And it discusses the systematic reasons why government programs are often obsolete, mismanaged, or otherwise dysfunctional…
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House and Senate Budgets “…envision a significant campaign to cut spending, with much of the savings coming from Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and welfare…”

REPUBLICANS PUSH CONSERVATIVE BUDGETS IN BOTH HOUSES

Associated Press
By David Espo and Andrew Taylor
3/18/15

WASHINGTON (AP) — Making good on last fall’s campaign commitments, Republicans advanced conservative budgets in both houses of Congress on Wednesday, setting up a veto struggle over the fate of the health care law and promising a whopping $5 trillion in spending cuts to erase deficits by the end of the coming decade…

…Both budgets envision a significant campaign to cut spending, with much of the savings coming from Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and welfare…
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President’s 2016 Budget in Pictures

National Priorities Project
By Jasmine Tucker
2/9/15

President Obama recently released his fiscal year 2016 budget proposal. Budgets are about our nation’s priorities: What are we going to spend money on? How are we going to raise the money we want to spend?

Though the budget ultimately enacted by Congress may look very different from the budget request released by the president, the president’s budget is important. It’s the president’s vision for the country in fiscal year 2016 and beyond, and it reflects input and spending requests from every federal agency.

These pictures tell the story of the priorities found in the president’s budget.


President’s Proposed 2016 Budget: Total Spending

This chart shows how President Obama proposed allocating $4.1 trillion* in total federal spending in fiscal year 2016, an increase of more than 5 percent over the total 2015 spending level. This includes every type of federal spending, from funding for discretionary programs like infrastructure improvements and job training to mandatory spending programs like Social Security and Medicare, as well as interest payments on the federal debt. Social Security and labor, Medicare and health programs, and military spending will make up 76 percent of the total budget, leaving just 24 percent, or $957 billion of the $4.1 trillion total, to spend on all other programs.

* Spending on Government (administration) is less than zero and omitted in the total spending pie chart. Lower than zero spending can occur when segments of government have surpluses from previous years that they return to the federal government.

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George Will: The harm incurred by a mushrooming welfare state

Opinion writer
1/21/15

America’s national character will have to be changed if progressives are going to implement their agenda. So, changing social norms is the progressive agenda. To understand how far this has advanced, and how difficult it will be to reverse the inculcation of dependency, consider the data Nicholas Eberstadt deploys in National Affairs quarterly:

America’s welfare state transfers more than 14 percent of gross domestic product to recipients, with more than a third of Americans taking “need-based” payments. In our wealthy society, the government officially treats an unprecedented portion of the population as “needy.”

Transfers of benefits to individuals through social welfare programs have increased from less than 1 federal dollar in 4 (24 percent) in 1963 to almost 3 out of 5 (59 percent) in 2013. In that half-century, entitlement payments were, Eberstadt says, America’s “fastest growing source of personal income,” growing twice as fast as all other real per capita personal income. It is probable that this year a majority of Americans will seek and receive payments.

This is not primarily because of Social Security and Medicare transfers to an aging population. Rather, the growth is overwhelmingly in means-tested entitlements. More than twice as many households receive “anti-poverty” benefits than receive Social Security or Medicare. Between 1983 and 2012, the population increased by almost 83 million — and people accepting means-tested benefits increased by 67 million. So, for every 100-person increase in the population there was an 80-person increase in the recipients of means-tested payments. Food stamp recipients increased from 19 million to 51 million — more than the combined populations of 24 states.

What has changed? Not the portion of the estimated population 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: In 2012, more than half the recipients were not classified as poor but accepted being treated as needy. Expanding dependency requires erasing Americans’ traditional distinction between the deserving and the undeserving poor. This distinction was rooted in this nation’s exceptional sense that poverty is not the unalterable accident of birth and is related to traditions of generosity arising from immigrant and settler experiences. 

Eberstadt’s essay, “American Exceptionalism and the Entitlement State,” argues that this state is extinguishing the former. America “arrived late to the 20th century’s entitlement party.” The welfare state’s European pedigree traces from post-1945 Britain, back through Sweden’s interwar “social democracy,” to Bismarck’s late-19th-century social insurance. European welfare states reflected European beliefs about poverty: Rigid class structures rooted in a feudal past meant meager opportunities for upward mobility based on merit. People were thought to be stuck in neediness through no fault of their own, and welfare states would reconcile people to intractable social structures.

Eberstadt notes that the structure of U.S. government spending “has been completely overturned within living memory,” resulting in the “remolding of daily life for ordinary Americans under the shadow of the entitlement state.” In two generations, the American family budget has been recast: In 1963, entitlement transfers were less than $1 out of every $15; by 2012, they were more than $1 out of every $6.

Causation works both ways between the rapid increase in family disintegration (from 1964 to 2012, the percentage of children born to unmarried women increased from 7 to 41) and the fact that, Eberstadt says, for many women, children and even working-age men, “the entitlement state is now the breadwinner of the household.” In the past 50 years, the fraction of civilian men ages 25 to 34 who were neither working nor looking for work approximately quadrupled.

Eberstadt believes that the entitlement state poses “character challenges” because it powerfully promotes certain habits, including habits of mind. These include corruption. Since 1970, Americans have become healthier, work has become less physically stressful, the workplace has become safer — and claims from Social Security Disability Insurance have increased almost sixfold. Such claims (including fraudulent ones) are gateways to a plethora of other payments.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a lifelong New Deal liberal and accomplished social scientist, warned that “the issue of welfare is not what it costs those who provide it but what it costs those who receive it.” As a growing portion of the population succumbs to the entitlement state’s ever-expanding menu of temptations, the costs, Eberstadt concludes, include a transformation of the nation’s “political culture, sensibilities, and tradition,” the weakening of America’s distinctive “conceptions of self-reliance, personal responsibility, and self-advancement,” and perhaps a “rending of the national fabric.” As a result, “America today does not look exceptional at all.”

Read more from George F. Will’s archive or follow him on Facebook.