Politics Magazine

Responding To The Right-Wing Lies About Welfare

Posted on the 15 January 2014 by Jobsanger
Responding To The Right-Wing Lies About Welfare Right-wingers don't have a lot of evidence to back up their silly claims, so they make up a lot of stuff -- they lie. One of the lies going around is that the federal government and the states spend about a trillion dollars on welfare. Anyone with half a brain would instantly know that such a thing could not possibly be true, but there seem to be a lot of people (mostly teabaggers and fundamentalists) who prefer to let others do their thinking for them -- so a response to this ridiculous lie is needed.
Fortunately, such a response has already been made -- by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich (pictured at left) -- and since he puts it better than I could, I bring you that response:
DEPARTMENT OF UNTRUTHS: I keep hearing conservatives quote from a recent report of the Cato Institute that the federal government spends $668 billion a year on welfare, and the states an additional $300 billion or so -- for a total annual welfare expenditure of about $1 trillion. It’s a cooked-up figure that includes Medicaid, Title I education grants, job training, even low-income taxpayer clinics, that aren’t at all direct payments. And it includes a lot of double-counting, since the states get much of their funding from the federal government. 
At most, America’s poor receive $212 billion a year. And almost half of this is available only to people who are working -- the refundable part of the Earned Income Tax Credit ($55 billion), the Child Tax Credit, and Supplemental Security Income ($43.7 billion). The only direct help available to the non-working poor and their families are food stamps ($75 billion), housing vouchers ($18 billion), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ($21 billion), for a total of $114 billion. Even $212 billion is the smallest direct payment to the poor, as a proportion of our total economy, than before the War on Poverty began. And Republicans on the Hill are trying to slash even these. Yet we still have a huge poor population in America, including 22 percent of our nation’s children, as well as a large and growing share of the middle class at risk of falling into poverty. It’s time to counter the baloney spewing forth from right-wing think tanks, and make the case for shared prosperity.

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