The Heritage Foundation reports that more than 70 types of federal means-tested handouts, in cash or benefits, are distributed. About half of Americans (47 percent) pay no income tax and depend for their living expenses in whole or in part on government handouts paid by the other half who do pay income taxes.
This federal welfare apparatus includes 12 programs providing food, 10 for housing assistance, 10 for social services, 9 for educational assistance, 8 programs giving cash, 8 for vocational training, 7 for medical assistance, 3 for energy and utility assistance, and 2 for child care and child development. Welfare recipients are eligible for a free cellphone with monthly minutes from the Universal Service Fund that the rest of us pay into.
So we get more illegitimate babies supported by taxpaying Americans every year. This extraordinary change in our social structure is the primary reason that government budgets, both federal and state, are so bloated.
The Rasmussen Poll reports that 78 percent of American adults rate marriage as at least somewhat important to U.S. society, 60 percent consider it very important, and 77 percent say it's better for children to grow up in a home with both their parents. So why are we using tax dollars to discourage marriage and subsidize illegitimacy?
We should ask our presidential candidates who are worried about extravagant government spending, unbalanced budgets and repeated raising of the debt ceiling, how they will stop the flow of money that promotes more and more dependency on government. Welfare spending is a major cause of our unbalanced budgets and colossal debt.
This hidden welfare state is the fastest growing component of government spending. And these figures do not include Social Security or Medicare payments.
Nor do the Heritage Foundation figures count the social and fiscal costs of the expensive problems that come mostly from female-headed households. These include drug addition, sex, suicides, school dropouts, runaways and crime.
Welfare spending is a failure; it doesn't advance us toward any constructive goal, such as helping recipients to get on their feet economically. It merely increases dependence on government handouts and increases votes for big-spending politicians.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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