October 8, 2015


Most Americans Get 'Free Stuff' From The Government (FARAI CHIDEYA, 10/02/15, 538)

["F]ree stuff" from the government is far more extensive than the benefits disdained by those politicians, and is eagerly accepted by people of every race and income level. As Howard Gleckman, a tax expert who writes for the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, pointed out recently, virtually every American gets some kind of government subsidy, from people who have mortgages or employer-sponsored health care (big tax deductions) to those who work for or invest in big companies (big corporate tax subsidies). Recipients of Social Security and Medicare get back far more in benefits than they paid in taxes.

Benefits to people who are not poor often equal or dwarf the cost of those for the poor. The home mortgage interest deduction, which the Congressional Budget Office found largely benefits the top one-fifth of income earners, cost the federal government about $70 billion in 2013; food stamps cost the government $74 billion last year. The tax break for employers who provide health insurance cost Washington $250 billion in 2013.

Medicare, which is available to all seniors regardless of income level, is more expensive ($587 billion in 2013) than Medicaid ($449 billion), the health care program for the poor, and an average-income couple retiring this year will get back three times more in Medicare benefits than they paid in Medicare taxes.

These comparisons of benefits rarely come up when talk on the campaign trail turns to "handouts." But even the "free stuff" the politicians do bring up goes to a larger, more diverse group of people than is commonly believed.

Posted by at October 8, 2015 6:49 PM

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