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Are we, in fact, a welfare nation?

By       Message Mike Kirchubel     Permalink
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Are we, in fact, a welfare nation?   

This week, conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly blessed America with an article titled: "We are, in fact, a welfare nation," putting forth the theory that there are more people in America today who are on welfare than have full-time jobs.   He tells us that 102 million Americans worked full-time year round in 2011 and compares that with, "nearly 50 million Americans are receiving food stamps, and 83 million are on Medicaid."   However, Medicaid recipients total 62 million, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers for September, 2013, show about 135 million full-time American workers and part-time workers who are happy to be part-time workers.   But, numbers are not really the point.  

O'Reilly goes on: "I don't want my tax dollars going to drunkards and drug addicts," and suggests that our nation's poor are "layabouts," ignoring the fact that most food-stamp and Medicaid recipients are children, seniors, and the working poor.   Nationwide, 47% of food-stamp recipients are children and 41% are working poor, working for such low wages that they qualify for subsidies.   Whenever we taxpayers must provide food and healthcare to workers, the businesses are paying them less than a living wage, and we are actually subsidizing the owners' profits.

In his article, O'Reilly tells us: "Safety nets for the poor and disadvantaged are a must for any compassionate nation, but encouraging folks to go on the dole when it's not absolutely necessary is disgraceful.   That's what the Obama administration is doing.   How else can you explain a 40-percent rise in food-stamp recipients in just three years?"   Oh, really, O'Reilly?   You think President Obama is "encouraging" folks to be poor?    That's a pretty flimsy hook to hang your hat on.   Couldn't the actual problem be that lax financial regulations "encouraged" Wall Street bankers to go wild and gut our nation's economy and that "Free Trade Agreements" "encouraged" corporations to ship good American manufacturing jobs overseas?   I'd hang my hat on that.       

Currently, 47.7 million Americans receive federal food subsidies, averaging $133 a month.   With new cuts coming from the Republican-run House of Representatives, a typical family of four will now get about $36 per month less, saving taxpayers $5 billion per year.   Compare that to the $85 billion that the Federal Reserve spent supporting the financial industry just last month, just like the month before that, and the month before that, to the tune of $2 trillion, so far.   While Billo and his right-wing-apologist ilk are quick to criticize American workers who understandably continue to struggle in our still-weak economy, they never seem to complain about Congress spending taxpayer money helping financial institutions; utilities; oil and chemical companies; insurance companies; corporate farmers; pharmaceutical and medical products companies; telecommunications industries; security and prison corporations; or aerospace and defense industries.   Not counting the Federal Reserve's contributions, corporate tax breaks and loopholes, non-negotiated drug purchases, no-bid and over-the-top defense contracts, and arms sales disguised as "foreign aid," the federal government spends about $225 billion tax dollars a year on corporate welfare.   

If the Republicans want corporations to be "people" so they can fund their elections, shouldn't they also be pushing for down-to-the-bone welfare cuts like they do for human people?     O'Reilly also repeats the often-repeated Republican mantra that Democrats want to keep Americans dependent on welfare so they'll vote for them.   That's obviously absurdly illogical, but I think I can repair their slogan by changing a few words: "Republicans want to keep corporations dependent on subsidies so they'll continue to give them money for their campaigns."  

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I've also corrected Billo's ending: Unless the voters wise up, this nation will continue down the Corporate Nanny State road. That path is unsustainable.   

No thanks necessary, Bill.  

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Mike Kirchubel writes a weekly Progressive/Economic column for the Fairfield, California Daily Republic and is the author of: Vile Acts of Evil, a look at the hidden economic history of the United States. Vile Acts of Evil almost wrote itself. (more...)

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