Report: Dependence on government up 23 percent under President Obama

posted at 3:45 pm on February 8, 2012 by Tina Korbe

President Barack Obama has proved his adeptness at exploiting the vote pump: Dependence on government has increased by 23 percent under his administration, according to the Heritage Foundation 2012 Index of Dependence on Government.

More people than ever before — 67.3 million Americans — depend on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid or other assistance. Consider: The nation committed more than 15 times the resources in 2010 than in 1962 to pay for people who depend on the government. More than 70 percent of the nation’s spending goes to dependence programs, up from 28.3 percent in 1962 and 48.5 percent in 1990. The Index grew 8.1 percent in 2010 alone.

So, lest you think the increase in dependence stems primarily from temporary, recession-related rises in flexible spending programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, note well that increased dependence has been a steady trend for the entire decade the Heritage Foundation has released its index.

At the same time, the percentage of the population that pays no federal income taxes whatsoever has also increased. In 1984, just 14.8 percent of Americans — or 34.8 million tax filers — paid no federal income taxes; in 2009, 49.5 percent — or 151.7 million tax filers — paid nothing.

Also coincidentally, individuals and local entities now provide less assistance to needy members of society today than they have historically. Before World War II, mutual-aid, religious and education organizations once provided the majority of housing assistance and financial aid; after World War II, the federal and state governments began to provide the bulk of low-cost housing and financial help. Same story with health care.

Heritage experts Bill Beach and Patrick Tyrell explain why government assistance is less conducive of human flourishing than the help civil society historically provided:

This shift from local, community-based, mutual-aid assistance to anonymous government payments has clearly altered the relationship between the receiver and the provider of the assistance. In the past, a person in need depended on help from people and organizations in his or her local community. The community representatives were generally aware of the person’s needs and tailored the assistance to meet those needs within the community’s budgetary constraints. Today, housing and other needs are addressed by government employees to whom the person in need is a complete stranger, and who have few or no ties to the community in which the needy person lives.

Both cases of aid involve a dependent relationship. However, support provided by families, churches, and other civil society groups aims to restore a person to full flourishing and personal responsibility, and, ultimately, to be able to aid another person in turn. This kind of reciprocal expectation does not characterize the dependent relationship with the political system. The former relationship is essential to the existence of civil society itself. The latter is usually based on one-sided aid without accountability for a person’s regained responsibility for self and toward his community. Indeed, the “success” of such government programs is frequently measured by the program’s growth rather than by whether it helps recipients to escape dependence. While the dependent relationship with civil society leads to a balance between the interests of the needy person and the community, the dependent relationship with the government runs the risk of generating political pressure from interest groups—such as health care organizations, nonprofit organizations, and the aid recipients themselves—to expand and cement federal support.

The Index points to two crucial steps the nation needs to take: We need to (a) reweave the fabric of civil society, strengthening and appreciating the ties that bind, rather than finding them restrictive and (b) REFORM ENTITLEMENTS!

At this point, it’s useless to debate whether the weakening of civil society led to increased government involvement or the other way around; it’s just time to rebuild a sense of community from the ground up. Here’s an idea: If you don’t already have this kind of relationship with your neighbors, offer to loan ‘em an egg if they ever need one! I’m not joking. If we’re serious about not wanting the government to interfere in our lives, then we can’t afford to live in a bubble, oblivious to the needs of those around us. I know it gets old to contribute endlessly and you’re probably tired of it; you probably already do more than your part — plus pay taxes. But a little more can’t hurt! Mobility and technology make it all too easy to zone out; please don’t. As this Index makes clear, we’re already paying the price for our own negligence.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Change

Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason.

kirkill on February 8, 2012 at 5:42 PM

Here’s what baffles me. Some bloggers have been preaching nothing but doom and gloom when it comes to Obama, his policies and the state of our union in general . However even with all this Republicans still can’t generate excitement at the polls . Why is that?

Politricks on February 8, 2012 at 5:42 PM

Well, except for the dead folks that still collect pensions and Social Security, but nobody’s perfect.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 8, 2012 at 5:14 PM

…and VOTE

kirkill on February 8, 2012 at 5:45 PM

23%?
Obama has been more successful than he ever expected in his wildest dreams. Everything going as planned. The more people depending on the government the more entrenched liberal politicians are. Greece here we come.

neuquenguy on February 8, 2012 at 5:46 PM

However even with all this Republicans still can’t generate excitement at the polls . Why is that?

Politricks on February 8, 2012 at 5:42 PM

People are exhausted. Everyday they face more attacks by the government against Americans and their liberty. They’re saving their energy for the close. Believe me, as the day gets closer you’ll see people start to rally.

darwin on February 8, 2012 at 5:48 PM

*pffft*

Everyone knows good times are here; the unemployment rate is going down – how can government dependence be going up? Hmmm?

/s

Midas on February 8, 2012 at 6:10 PM

However even with all this Republicans still can’t generate excitement at the polls . Why is that?

Politricks on February 8, 2012 at 5:42 PM

Because they keep putting up f@#$witted RINO candidates that are incapable of generating enthusiasm in the electorate.

Midas on February 8, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Judging from the chart, government dependence spiked prior to Obama taking office (2008 perhaps?). Yeah, there’s a ton of government out there because the economy went off a cliff in October ’08 and both Bush and Obama had to put a bunch of money out there to assure we didn’t end up in another Great Depression.

Funny how you all conveniently overlook this very large, very relevant fact and just paint this as “Obama The Socialist” at work.

Tom_Shipley on February 8, 2012 at 4:08 PM

So Shipley- under Obama, dependence on government is at an all time high and income tax participation is an all time low.

True or false?

Chuck Schick on February 8, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Judging from the chart, government dependence spiked prior to Obama taking office (2008 perhaps?)
Tom_Shipley on February 8, 2012 at 4:08 PM

Perhaps, the rapid decline in America really started when Pelosi and Reid took over the government growth, and yes, Bush was complicit. Obama was gasoline on the fire.

kirkill on February 8, 2012 at 6:18 PM

So basically you’re repudiating everything President Downgrade stand for, correct?

Chip on February 8, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Yes I disagree with much of it- I don’t believe that either party has the right answers. But I also think that you can’t realistically balance the budget without a mix of more revenue and spending cuts.

bayam on February 8, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Yes I disagree with much of it- I don’t believe that either party has the right answers. But I also think that you can’t realistically balance the budget without a mix of more revenue and spending cuts.

bayam on February 8, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Then you should understand Revenue 101. Cut taxes, put more people back to work, get more revenue from all those millions working and paying taxes. Works EVERYTIME.

kirkill on February 8, 2012 at 6:29 PM

But I also think that you can’t realistically balance the budget without a mix of more revenue and spending cuts.

bayam on February 8, 2012 at 6:21 PM

You’ll get more revenue if you get people working. Ignoring our own energy sources, imposing thousands of stifling regulations and fees … and expecting “the rich” and business to pick up the tab without passing costs down to the consumer isn’t that way.

darwin on February 8, 2012 at 6:35 PM

But I also think that you can’t realistically balance the budget without a mix of more revenue and spending cuts.

bayam on February 8, 2012 at 6:21 PM

I vote we raise taxes on the poor and middle class- get the non-participation rate from the ridiculous 50% under Obama back down to 33% under Clinton.

You’re for that, correct?

Chuck Schick on February 8, 2012 at 7:01 PM

Bevan on February 8, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Thanks. It’s still as true as ever.

Lost in Jersey on February 8, 2012 at 8:11 PM

As someone who has lived through both periods, the Heritage observations are obvious to me.

burt on February 8, 2012 at 8:12 PM

I vote we raise taxes on the poor and middle class- get the non-participation rate from the ridiculous 50% under Obama back down to 33% under Clinton.

You’re for that, correct?

Chuck Schick on February 8, 2012 at 7:01 PM

Yes I think that everyone should pay at least some federal income tax. Not to raise taxes on the middle class as a matter of principle, but to make everyone a stakeholder in increased spending.

bayam on February 8, 2012 at 11:08 PM

Your Stimulus Dollars at work:

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2012/02/06/taxpayer-money-used-to-maintain-million-dollar-yacht/

We have here $253,000 for two captains and two deckhands, and a much-needed engine refurbishment for $489,000 in Stimulus funds.

unclesmrgol on February 9, 2012 at 1:22 AM

How many relatives do you think occupy a slot in this listing? Anybody who is anybody with a stroke of recognition I’ll bet. http://www.usa.gov/directory/federal/index.shtml
Look over this list and see if you can come up with anything that we can tax.

mixplix on February 9, 2012 at 6:26 AM

Today, housing and other needs are addressed by government employees to whom the person in need is a complete stranger, and who have few or no ties to the community in which the needy person lives.

No, they’re addressed by me and the rest of the dwindling number of taxpayers. The govt employees are merely taking their cut off the top, and they are adding zero value for that cut, and that cut gets bigger each year.

runawayyyy on February 9, 2012 at 2:30 PM

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