To a one I’m sure they all had Social Security, Medicare and were the recipients of numerous tax breaks. The irony didn’t escape me but it apparently escaped them.
Yet you don’t have to go far to find someone who is getting a federal benefit — probably you, for example.
Love that mortgage interest deduction on your federal taxes? Uh, how much do you think that costs the federal treasury? It’s a nice break on your taxes but should the government give you a break just because you pay interest on your mortgage? Certainly the promotion of home ownership is a worthy societal goal but we don’t even think about writing off the interest or consider that it is a government benefit.
The New York Times recently looked at federal benefits in Chisago County located north of Minneapolis.
One of the men interviewed suggested too many Americans are leaning on taxpayers — and while he wished he didn’t take government benefits, he got a huge payment out of his tax return under the earned-income tax credit, his children get free breakfast and lunch at school and, to top it off, his mother has had two hip surgeries courtesy of Medicare.
In a word or few, we might not philosophically like it — but we take it.
Yes well what about those “poor” people sucking up more and more of the funds? Sorry, the poor are getting a smaller and smaller share of federal benefits. As the Times noted, “The share of benefits flowing to the least affluent households, the bottom fifth, has declined from 54 percent in 1979 to 36 percent in 2007, according to a Congressional budget office analysis published last year.”
The reality is the big share of those getting government benefits are seniors through Social Security and Medicare and those without financial means who rely on the Medicaid system for their health care (and even given that, just look around at how active the various free clinics are in our communities).
The Times provided maps of where the bulk of the benefits go for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, unemployment insurance and veterans benefits. Of the counties in the top 20 percent, Emmet and Charlevoix counties made the list for Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits. Welfare benefits were prevalent in the Deep South, Appalachia and parts of the Southwest; unemployment in the rust belt areas and the far western states.
In the coming years the budget will get hit with huge increases in Medicare and to a lesser extent Medicaid payments. The cost of Social Security will continue to rise.
Some are saying Social Security has to be changed because of all the Baby Boomers set to retire. Excuse me but as a Baby Boomer what was my option — not to be born? And excuse me some more, didn’t my employers and I pay into the Social Security system for the past 50-plus years so that I WOULD get a Social Security check every month?
No matter what the category of spending or tax benefits you can name, either you, one of your neighbors or a relative, are partaking of them.
It’s not a bad thing, it’s something government can and in many cases should do. But it takes money — you can’t continue to cut taxes and still provide the benefits that Americans need and deserve.
Think of it this way — you can’t expect agencies and charities to be able to provide a place to live and food for the table in place of the $1,200 a month grandma gets in her Social Security check or to replace her hip so she can move around. Collectively, through our taxes, we can do that — and should.
Kendall P. Stanley is retired editor of the Petoskey News-Review. He can be contacted at email@example.com.