Pethokoukis

Romney needs to keep talking about our fiscally and morally disastrous Entitlement Society

Romney and Ryan are nuts if this latest kerfuffle stops them from talking about this (numbers courtesy of AEI’s Nick Eberstadt):

1. In 1960, U.S. government transfers to individuals totaled about $24 billion in current dollars, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. By 2010 that total was almost 100 times as large.

2. Even after adjusting for inflation and population growth, entitlement transfers to individuals have grown 727% over the past half-century, rising at an average rate of about 4% a year.

3. In 2010 alone, government at all levels oversaw a transfer of over $2.2 trillion in money, goods and services. The burden of these entitlements came to slightly more than $7,200 for every person in America. Scaled against a notional family of four, the average entitlements burden for that year alone approached $29,000

4. In 1960, entitlement payments accounted for well under a third of the federal government’s total outlays—about the same fraction as in 1940, when the Great Depression was still shaping American life. But over subsequent decades, entitlements as a percentage of total federal spending soared. By 2010 they accounted for just about two-thirds of all federal spending, with all other responsibilities of the federal government making up barely one-third.

5. Poverty- or income-related entitlements—transfers of money, goods or services, including health-care services—accounted for over $650 billion in government outlays in 2010. Between 1960 and 2010, inflation-adjusted transfers for these objectives increased by over 30-fold, or by over 7% a year.

6. For their part, entitlements for older Americans—Medicare, Social Security and other pension payments—worked out to even more by 2010, about $1.2 trillion. In real terms, these transfers multiplied by a factor of about 12 over that period—or an average growth of more than 5% a year.

7. But in purely arithmetic terms, the most astonishing growth of entitlements has been for health-care guarantees based on claims of age (Medicare) or income (Medicaid). Until the mid-1960s, no such entitlements existed; by 2010, these two programs were absorbing more than $900 billion annually.

Overcoming America’s historic cultural resistance to government entitlements has been a long and formidable endeavor. But as we know today, this resistance did not ultimately prove an insurmountable obstacle to establishing mass public entitlements and normalizing the entitlement lifestyle. The U.S. is now on the verge of a symbolic threshold: the point at which more than half of all American households receive and accept transfer benefits from the government. From cradle to grave, a treasure chest of government-supplied benefits is there for the taking for every American citizen—and exercising one’s legal rights to these many blandishments is now part of the American way of life.

And how to pay for this expanded and expanding Welfare State going forward? Massive taxes increases? On everybody? And how will this affect American as an Innovation State? What about our national character? As Eberstadt concludes: “The taker mentality has thus ineluctably gravitated toward taking from a pool of citizens who can offer no resistance to such schemes: the unborn descendants of today’s entitlement-seeking population.”

Keep talking, Mitt.

7 thoughts on “Romney needs to keep talking about our fiscally and morally disastrous Entitlement Society

  1. I resent you saying Social Security is an entitlement! I and so many more were forced to pay into SS for 40+ years. So it’s our fault that the government has squandered this account and now can’t meet it’s obligation. We just want what is rightfully ours!

    • And while you were working and paying into that social security lock box you sure enjoyed all those benefits the government was doling out to you and everyone else from that magic bottomless bag of cash and never for a minute questioned where they were getting it. It’s all their fault they spent your money promising you things so you would vote for them and you did and now the money’s gone and you complain that it’s not fair because they promised to take care of you. Well its all gone now, the Chinese are currently paying for your benefits and I doubt they’ll keep doing it for much longer. Good luck with that.

      • ” now the money’s gone and you complain that it’s not fair because they promised to take care of you.”
        – breach of contract is actionable everywhere.
        I do understand that if the money ain’t there, it ain’t there. But that doesn’t remove the moral wrong of the broken promise. “Pay into this system and eventually it will take care of you” is a promise, an implied contract.

  2. Mitt’s comments were reprehensible, as they apparently included those on Social Security and Medicare, which were funded by the recipients. They also include the wives of serving soldiers who have to supplement their purchasing power with food stamps. These problems weren’t made BY the people Mitt complained about- they were made FOR them.

    In the meantime, Mitt pays a 13% tax rate- that’s less than I give a waitress in a diner. So who is the bigger parasite? Mitt, or someone who earns 50K a year and pays payroll taxes but no Federal income tax? You make the call.

    Of course, this narrative is straight out of the AEI playbook: as we’ve seen with the endless slander against CRA and the GSEs, the AEI’s standard rule applies: when the reckless actions of private capital trainwrecks the economy, blame the poor and the colored.

    Yours in Christ,

    Max

    • the whole incident was a politically motivated set-up. Yes, Mitt was a bit lose with the facts, but no one mentions who was in the room and for what reason. Does anyone care about context? or taking things out of context?

      His one point was that the INCOME tax cut issue won’t resonate with those that aren’t paying INCOME taxes.

      What does it say about the other side, who are incredibly desperate to win at any cost or with any “dirty trick” in collusion with an liberal ass-kissing media??

      Mitt pays millions in taxes and pays what the tax code requires, of that I have no doubt. So, why would you be mad at a guy who pays millions if not 10s of millions in taxes? It’s a lot more than the 47% pay!

      Dear Jesus, help this gentleman calm his anger against someone that he only knows from incompetent and intellectually deficient and biased media personnel and his own personal bias. Help him see truth more correctly and thinking more clear. Amen.

    • Hey Max,

      Just curious, we you this upset with Obama when he said he didn’t care about the white working class people because they wouldn’t vote for him?

  3. Oh please please Mitt keep talking. We are finally finding the depth and breadth of your ignorance and arrogance.

    BTW — you don’t need fissile material to build a dirty bomb. Everybody knows that why don’t you.

    Please Mitt keep telling use who you really are.

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