Sunday, January 15, 2012

America’s social welfare state: relief for the rich!

In her campaign for the senate in Mass., Elizabeth Warren continues to take on the big banks. Photo courtesy of

Dan Froomkin’s recent post, “Social Welfare State, American-Style, Means Relief For The Rich,” has attracted more than 8,000 comments from its readers. A quick scan indicates that hundreds of those comments support Froomkin’s thesis.

Anyone who followed the budget debates in 2011 is already aware that both Democratic and Republican leaders, supported by our corporate-owned media, favored cuts in Social Security and Medicare to reduce the deficit.

But keep in mind that those going after the safety net for the poor and the elderly repeatedly used the euphemism “entitlement programs” to equate even self-funded Social Security with welfare.

It’s good news that Froomkin’s post is drawing multitudes of readers as he emphatically points out that the real entitlements in our country benefit primarily the wealthy. Hopefully, members of both parties will reflect on that fact:

WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has taken to accusing President Barack Obama of trying to turn the United States into a European-style social welfare state.

The hyperbole about Obama's actions aside, the United States already is a social welfare state -- almost right up there with the Europeans -- if you measure the total amount of drain on the Treasury caused by spending and subsidies on such things as health care and retirement. 

The one big difference is that in the American social welfare state, a lot of the benefits go to the rich. 

"We spend a tremendous amount on private social welfare through tax subsidies," said Christopher Faricy, a political science professor at Washington State University whose forthcoming book is about our divided welfare state.

"It just goes to a drastically different population than what we usually associate with welfare programs," Faricy said.

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