Friday, February 17, 2012

The red states' addiction to welfare

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 7:12 AM

Paul Krugman elaborates on recent reporting that illustrates how Republican-controlled states, particularly in the South, are more dependent on government handouts than blue states.

Finally, Cornell University’s Suzanne Mettler points out that many beneficiaries of government programs seem confused about their own place in the system. She tells us that 44 percent of Social Security recipients, 43 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits, and 40 percent of those on Medicare say that they “have not used a government program.”

Presumably, then, voters imagine that pledges to slash government spending mean cutting programs for the idle poor, not things they themselves count on. And this is a confusion politicians deliberately encourage. For example, when Mr. Romney responded to the new Obama budget, he condemned Mr. Obama for not taking on entitlement spending — and, in the very next breath, attacked him for cutting Medicare.

Krugman concludes that the many people who describe themselves as conservatives in the polls the Republicans wave about will be "both shocked and angry if such politicians actually imposed their small-government agenda."

Arkansas, of course, which is trending red, is a huge recipient of "welfare" — meaning aid for working poor, elderly and the disabled. And imagine if we imposed a workfare requirement for the Arkansas legislature — no state paycheck unless you could demonstrate you held a real job in the outside world.

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