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December 22, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Welfare state is unsustainable

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President Barack Obama wants the rich to pay more taxes. The Internal Revenue Service reports that 49 percent of Americans, and increasing, pay no federal income taxes every year. Some will argue it’s the result of the recession. But less than half of Americans? This sounds way too high if the unemployment rate has been 9 percent or lower nationally for the past four years.

Over the past 50 years the U.S., thanks to liberal politicians with unlimited taxpayer funds, has become a welfare state. More and more Americans are willing to live off of government welfare and subsidies and give nothing back, even if they can and should. The rich know that the welfare state will implode if allowed to grow unchecked. Many European governments, which have gone down this path, already have.

The U.S. overspends $1 trillion each year and will into the foreseeable future. This is a spending problem that has to be addressed or else Americans will get free vacations to Europe without ever leaving the U.S.

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  1. Americans simply need to make some tough choices that were not made in many European nations. America spends huge sums being the world's policeman and a worldwide financial benefactor. It spends huge sums on entitlements and welfare type benefits. If also funds a gigantic, inefficient and wasteful federal government. It does all of this holding tax rates low for most Americans and excluding many others from paying any income tax.

    We are a big, rich and powerful country, but the math in the equation above just doesn't work.

    There is enough potential tax revenue available to fund everything we currently do, but as Europeans are discovering, tax rates on almost everyone must be painfully high to cover all the costs for a very expansive government that offers and does so much.

    This isn't rocket science but all the available alternatives have disadvantages and all the areas to address have people who will 'fight' any changes.

    For me personally, I'd like to see a 'real' balanced approach where taxes were increased on the wealthy and the middle class over time, the people excluded from income tax were brought back into the system and asked to pay something, where we really scaled back our role as world policeman and world benefactor and where entitlement and welfare spending were put on a path to be sustainable going forward.

    Currently, every proposal out there is woefully inadequate and tries to exclude certain areas from being affected and that is both unfair and unworkable. I hope Americans wake up and push for a workable approach before events overtake us and these tough decisions are force upon us in a totally out of control fashion.

    Michael

  2. Carmine A. DiFazio - "thanks to liberal politicians with unlimited taxpayer funds, has become a welfare state."

    Why leave out the billions wasted by paranoid conservatives on "war toys" that will never see combat? I don't believe cutting taxes and starting two wars a half a world away was the brightest thing to do. How many trillions will be at that bottom line when it's all over?

    Our economic crunch this last time around, like all the others, was caused by greed, plain and simple. Working class people had their wages frozen while the "fat cats" gained 300% in income. I can't refer to it as earning because investments isn't exactly busting your butt at a trade skill or real job.

  3. Future: facts please, or references to facts would be nice. Every poll released since the election shows Americans want taxes raised on the 2%, Medicare and Social Security left off the table, and a mixture of revenue and spending cuts. All this will be pretty much achieved at the stroke of midnite on Dec 31st. All the blather spewing from Boehner and McConnell about "compromise" will be moot. The Bush tax cuts will expire like they should have two years ago. The Budget Control Act (sequestration) will kick in, and then we'll see who the GOP "represents", as if we don't already know.

  4. The fact that 49% pay no Federal Income Tax is as statistically significant as the fact that over 75% pay zero Tobacco Excise Tax. Taxes are taxes and they come in all flavors. In 2011, individual income taxes made up just 47% of federal revenue. Payroll taxes, even while temporarily reduced, made up 36% of revenue and Corporate Income Taxes brought in just 8%.

    A self-employed landscaper making $14,000 a year pays a higher percentage of his income in payroll taxes than Mitt Romney pays in income taxes on his $14,000,000.

  5. Carmine, you are wasting your breath trying to reason with the "Commie-Lites." They are in total denial of the calamity coming and if they weren't, would still plow ahead since they want theirs and they want it NOW! To Hell with the future generations even if it's their own kids and grandkids. They are simply so greedy & so grubby, thay don't care about anything except their own selfish desires. "Useful idiots!" Indeed!

  6. Bailing out difazio's rich incompetant buddies is the real problem.

  7. Carmine is a notoriously lazy correspondent, failing to do any research into his commentary. The proverbial antagonist, knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Among the conservative correspondents I prefer Re,,,he backs up what he posits with facts.

  8. Currently there are 4,300,000 Americans on welfare in the U.S.that comes out to 4.1 percent of our population.We also have 5,600,000 Americans collecting unemployment insurance. The biggest numbers are Americans receiving food stamps 46,700,000.We spend 131.9 billion on welfare a year.

    These numbers hardly come close to America being a welfare state.These figures are expected to go down once Americans find jobs and get back to work.

    Statistic Verificationas as of 10-15-12.Source U.S.Dept.of Health and Human Services,U.S.Dept of Commerce,Cato Institute.

  9. http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-fina...
    People don't live off the government. The vast majority of people getting assistance are the working poor that are working for the company's like the above outlined in the Fox business article, or the elderly who are receiving $1000 month Social Security check.

    The average welfare recipient gets about $330 a month. The average foodstamp payout is about $130 a month. One in five of those people, mainly single moms will get some housing assistance.

    Low wages, lousy benefits, skyhigh medical and education costs are the main drivers of what Carmine calls the welfare state.

    Mr. Freeman.. I live primarily off of interest and dividends. Although my income has dropped substantially since interest rates have gone to zero it still makes up a substantial part of my income. For decades I purchased tax-free AAA rated municipal bonds that generated huge amounts of income for me in my life. I paid very little if any tax on these investments. Only people that have substantial amounts of money can avail themselves of these loopholes. Most Americans generate almost no income from investments.

  10. Carmine, we are carrying $16T for unpaid bills from the welfare state and from endless "defense" intrusions worldwide. I see, the U.S. will do almost all of the financial and troop commitment to "help" Turkey avoid Syria. Really. The U.N. sanctions and starts it and WE carry the costs. As for welfare programs, let's keep in mind that those with documented permanent issues qualify for SSI and SSDI--so other long-term welfare programs must be ELIMINATED as we cannot afford to carry everybody. I support a very TEMPORARY support system for any and every body (not just parents) who has been GAINFULLY EMPLOYED with a proven work record. UC helps but in this sour economy, many need a little more help. Those people who have and can again be productive should have options that carry their life style--although we cannot afford to subsidize poor spending choices and debt from those who didn't follow basic common sense. I'm referring to those who live PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK and did not maintain a 10-month emergency cushion. Those who did can get by on UC and otherwise for a year or two. By then, they have to find other employment. Many people will learn from these years and circumvent the casual lifestyles of buy now, pay later. Save now, sleep now and later. And this rational incorporates that our tax system must support good choices in individuals. We must void all tax credits and lower rates for debt and failure to save. Perhaps we should have a deduction for interest earned, dividends and such so that we don't pay taxes on our emergency funds. We clearly need to ELIMINATE REFUNDABLE CREDITS particularly child tax credits and additional child tax credits, child care credits, earned income credits....as these things reward INDIGENT LIFE STYLES and encourage large families in those who refuse to support their own kids.

  11. From the Cato Institute Website:

    "The Department of Health and Human Services administers the huge and fast-growing Medicare and Medicaid programs. These programs fuel rising health costs, distort health markets, and are plagued by waste and fraud. The department also runs an array of other expensive subsidy programs, including Head Start, TANF, and LIHEAP. Growth in HHS spending is creating a federal financial crisis, and the 2010 health care law sadly makes the situation worse.

    The department will spend $872 billion in 2012, or about $7,400 for every U.S. household. It employs 70,000 workers and runs 445 subsidy programs."

    CarmineD

  12. Aggregate health care spending is going to exceed $3 trillion next year. It's the single biggest headache we face. A couple days in the hospital can cost more than a house. The United States and Mexico are the only two countries that have for-profit healthcare and no restrictions on what providers can charge. The whole system is ridiculous.

    The federal government can not afford it. State governments can not afford it and individuals can't afford it. They healthcare system and the US tax code need to be thrown into the ocean.

    A drastic reduction in medical costs to levels seen in the next most expensive country would provide a savings of between $60 trillion and $80 trillion over the next 40 years. Try to get that from increased taxes on the rich or closing loopholes. A more affordable healthcare system is the only way to get balanced budgets going forward.

    People don't starve in the United States. If you eliminated welfare completely you would see a concurrent increase in crime. Crime in this country is one of the nation's biggest industries. A reduction in welfare would lead to an increase in the price for everything from soup to nuts. Walmart alone loses billions in theft every year.

  13. Carmine, Maybe you need to call for a congressional investagation into the
    Dept. of Health and Services who you claim distort the facts.And also put out lower figures then what you claim.I think they would like to hear from you on your facts.

  14. Conservatives waste their time talking about only "income taxes". I can give you a plan to eliminate income taxes altogether and STILL raise tax revenues. Raise the gasoline tax to $2 per gallon. Add a VAT. Raise estate taxes to 99% of everything over $5 million, and to 50% of everything over $250K. Add an annual national property tax where property = EVERYTHING you own! (To use technical terms, everything identified as an asset on your balance sheet.) Want to hit the top 1% harder? Make the VAT and the property tax progressive and allow no exceptions whatsoever.

    Do I advocate this idea? Hardly. It's to illustrate a point: that there are many tax options other than an "income" tax.

    We have to decide that, if an idea (Interstate highways, health care for all, a uniform national retirement system, police protection, fire protection, whatever...) is deemed desirable, we MUST be willing to provide adequate funding for it. And no one can be exempt. For you religious (esp. Christian) right, read your Bible and calculate the odds of a rich person being admitted to your heaven. And pay Caesar that which is Caesers!

  15. HHS facts and figures by year on Medicare and Medicaid:

    http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/c...

    CarmineD

  16. CarmineD

    The Cato Institute??? Your credibility is shaky enough already without going there.

  17. Carmine whines, "Over the past 50 years the U.S., thanks to liberal politicians with unlimited taxpayer funds, has become a welfare state."

    Take a look in the mirror, Mr. DiFazio.

    The cruel irony that Carmine cannot face. When Future and the other GOP mouthpieces crow about 47% of Americans receiving a "handout," or, as Carmine does, "living off the government," they don't tell you which party voted over and over for those very handouts.

    The GOP is largely to blame for the 47%.

    "When Ronald Reagan signed into law the Tax Reform Act of 1986, he boasted, "Millions of the working poor will be dropped from the tax rolls altogether, and families will get a long-overdue break with lower rates and an almost doubled personal exemption."

    "Both the initial Reagan tax cuts of 1981 and indexing income taxes to inflation in 1985 had a similar effect."

    "In the 1990s, the Republican-controlled Gingrich Congress passed a $500 per child tax credit that also wiped out the income tax liability of many low- to moderate-income households."

    "George W. Bush expanded the child tax credit as president and also signed into law tax cuts that reduced the bottom marginal income tax rate from 15 percent to 10 percent. Both moves increased the percentage of people not paying income tax."

    http://dailycaller.com/2012/09/17/the-re...

    The 47% were created, protected and grown from GOP tax policies. This is the sick hypocrisy behind their attacks. The GOP passed all kinds of tax credits and loopholes, individuals pay the taxes that are owed, and then those same GOP senators go on TV screeching about how people don't pay taxes!

    Will the GOP repeal their own policies that created the 47%? NEVER. They can't offend Grover Norquist. Even the Daily Caller admits this hypocrisy.

    This letter to the editor is a joke.

  18. Carmine 9:51: And the State DH&HS wants dozens more employees to "administer" Obamacare. They keep harping about maintaining current employee:client ratios WITHOUT economies of scale. We're going to pay heavy for this. And then, the State personnel system hires and promotes close personal friends of executives and politicians rather than those with real-world experience and education in chosen fields. I've seen where "looking pretty" while spouting budget proposals is MUCH more highly valued than ANY form of education or experience. Just look at the Employment Security Division paying millions to incarcerated.... Internal controls and audits / investigations are not new to the world. Why do we have soooo many analysts and administrative officers but very few credentialed auditors, investigators? If something can go wrong, it will. "Designing" programs is pointless UNLESS we build in internal controls and hire competent executives.

  19. One of the sad things is that every year or so we get a report out of Washington that talks about the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and duplication that exist there. There is a significant chunk of money that could be cut out of the deficit, several times what the tax hike on the rich would yield, without impacting services. But nobody in Washington does anything about it. Why? One can only speculate, but it seems like both parties like having a big government because it makes them important. Some of the comments are right that we need to have a real conversation about what the government should be doing and where it needs to make changes. Washington is a world where a department's budget can increase by billions of dollars year over year and they can still scream about being cut to the bone. Where the call for some people to pay more taxes while holding meetings with the heads of large corporations that make billions in profits and pay nothing in corporate income taxes.

    And in the comments, people on both sides of the political divide point at the other side as the problem when both sides are to blame. Luckily, as is seen above, they keep so many people focused on the other side as the problem that they never have to fix anything. Kick the can down the road a bit so that they can pretend to rescue us again in a couple of years. Luckily we all keep sending the same jokers back there to keep the show alive. At least as long as it lasts.

  20. Nobody ever talks about a real solution to the social spending. China established the 1 child policy years ago. The grandparents tend to take care of the child while the parents work and save money, to send the child to school, buy a house, car, etc. When the grandparents get old tbey move in with their child who takes care of them. There are no single mothers with 5 kids getting goverment checks. Young people take jobs away from home and live in dorms provided by the workplace so they can save money to send home. All the USA wants to do is let woman have as many kids as they want with no reguard as to the cost to raise them, all workers want high paying jobs without personal sacrifice. People getting food assistance do not get a bag of rice, block of cheese, they get a card loaded with cash on it to go shopping for what they want. There is no amount of tax increase that will fix this very broken system we have now.

  21. Thanks all for the comments for and against mine. I can't respond to all, way too long and too many.

    Why Cato Institute, Jim? Because another poster used it as a reference for his post.

    Jeffery, I really do like Europeans. I married a German fraulein younger than me that I met there while serving in the Army and have been happily so for 40 years. With 4 lovely granddaughters.

    I was against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I want all to pay taxes or more taxes if we have to. Not just the rich. And I am not by any means. For the first half my life I owned and operated a small family business since sold but still doing well. It was pure chance and circumstance that I ended up with a government job for 33 years. We're all in this together. United we stand, divided we fall.

    And EVERYTHING should be on the table for cuts, nothing is sacrosanct.

    I am not a conservative or a republican. I'm an independent left of center. I was a Chief Union Steward for AFSCME.

    I am a news junkie and follow and read all I can. FOX I will say has the best looking female reporters and analysts. That still counts in my book. But they also have others I've followed for years and years like Krauthmammer, Williams and Beckel.

    Today especially in your Houses of Worship and in your homes with your families and friends, pray for the victims and families/friends of the tragic shooting in Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut.

    CarmineD

  22. Peter 1:26. Anyway I can "recommend" your post now? Excellent logic.

  23. "Carmine, what% of Medicare $ go to admin? What is the % in the private sector?" @ CreatedEQL

    Federal Agencies and Departments should be held to the same disclosure standard as charities. Law requires charities to clearly show in its advertising for contributions how much is spent [by percentage] for administrative expenses by the charity. Such should be the case with Government. In order for taxpayers to know how effectively their taxes are spent, Gov't should provide the percentage that goes to running the operation. It's a measure of bureaucracy versus bang for the buck.

    CarmineD

  24. Carmine/CreatedEQL: All federal programs with strings attached (Medicaid, TANF, CCDF, SNAP, CSE) that are administered by the states have maximum percentages of administrative funding--but we need to add on the cost of Federal administration--when they send staff to train, assist, evaluate State agencies. I've seen 10% on some programs but the State Budget Proposals by agency should be reviewed. I've also seen where the feds stay out of demands on states "matching" funds--so when Medicaid has a roughly 50 federal to 50 state funding formula, the state portion can be spent any way as long as we can substantiate that they were "program" costs. Plus 4-10% of the federal funds can be spent on administration--employee pay, training, travel, computer programs. There are web cites maintained by the feds (and others) that run on about such things but it takes work to figure it out. I'd suggest looking at the federal reporting forms as the "easiest" place to start.

  25. "Cut the retirement of federal employees to half of what they now get. How does that sound Carmine?" @antigov

    I would fully support IF all public pensions nationwide, State, county, municipal, and local, did the same. But to single out Feds only is disingenuous.

    CarmineD

  26. "People don't live off the government. The vast majority of people getting assistance are the working poor that are working for the company's like the above outlined .." Gerry Hageman

    All Federal jobs, civilian and military, at the entry levels pay amounts that allow the employees and soldiers to qualify, if married, for welfare and assistance. BUT..the employees don't stay at that level forever if they are worthy and merit promotions. The same is true with the private sector. 85 percent of the Wal*Mart entry level employees, if they stay for the long term, and I 'm no supporter of W*M, get promoted through the ranks into middle and upper management.

    CarmineD

  27. Start first with the big corporations that pay no taxes, next stop the subsidies to the oil and other industries. Next cut should be the defense contractors. The rich, always whining and obsessed with money, hysterical over "the welfare state". It's the John Birch Society, redoux. Sickening, especially during the holiday season.

  28. Bluejeans: Your comment is way off target. Many of us are very modest means but self supporting and we are sickened by the welfare state. The rich want to keep some of their money. So do I. I'm so tired of giving and paying for everybody else. I've never received a financial benefit from a government program. No help with tuition or expenses. No mortgage assistance. No food assistance. Nix utilities, child care, earned income credits....ad infinitum. But I've paid and keep paying, taxes, federal, state, local. And YOU say I shouldn't have an opinion, not even an opinion for the thousands, tens of thousands, a hundred thousand or two, and YOU say I'm not entitled to an opinbion.

  29. Roslenda: "And YOU say I shouldn't have an opinion, not even an opinion for the thousands, tens of thousands, a hundred thousand or two, and YOU say I'm not entitled to an opinbion."

    Nothing in my comment was addressed to you personally nor did I say YOU are not entitled to an opinion. Since YOU are one of the most opinionated of the regular commenters here, obviously you are able to exercise your right. If the shoe fits, wear it.
    BTW, the capitalization is not necessary to make YOUR point.

  30. Bluejeans: You last comment lacks civility. I try to be blunt. I don't expect people to wade through lots of verbiage and then miss the point(s).
    Where have I ever suggested YOU are not entitled to an opinion. Do you have a reading problem? Please cite your sources. My 1:30 comment is that you are lumping people together as if anyone who is tired of the welfare state is "rich"--that is the word YOU used.

  31. ROselenda:
    I've said it before and I will say it again: Get off your high horse!! Thank your lucky stars that with your "excellent financial planning skills",you will never need assistance from the government or anyone else. Unless, of course, you suffer a traumatic accident or illness and you have to spend all of your precious saved up money for your upkeep and then end up in a nursing home anyway on Medicaid because your assets are gone. It happens all the time. So keep your bragging to yourself. Remember Karma is a bitch.

    Methinks that when you are old enough - you will GLADLY take your Social Security AND Medicare benefits with no questions asked. You alone are not supporting a "welfare state". Those making just above poverty level salaries and struggling financially also pay taxes and support that "welfare state" that you so obviously abhor. Remember about that Karma thing and what it can be.

    I never thought I'd say this, but your posts make me even appreciate Carmine's - which is saying a lot.

  32. Munch: Where is it arrogant to expect civil treatment? Guess you don't know cause you're not behaving civilly. I don't qualify for SS unless I get some more quarters before I'm 66--so your suppositions are faulty. I didn't assault Bluejeans but she came after me like a rabid dog. And then you too. This sort of treatment of the Shooter in Newtown, over time, may have caused him to "snap." The guy was NOT a mental health issue--no drugs, seemingly no treatment. Now it appears his mother wanted him to be what he was not--an outgoing "all American" macho dude rather than an introverted intellectual who had been bullied and harassed to the point he had no self confidence. If you have so little self respect that you cannot allow others, including other Posters such as me, to have our own opinions and our own ways of expressing ourselves you might want to re-read the Constitution of the United States. I have an inalienable right to freedom of speech--the speech that I chose so long as I am not actively inciting sedition or violence. You don't have to like it. You should have the wisdom to accept it with good grace.

  33. "I never thought I'd say this, but your posts make me even appreciate Carmine's - which is saying a lot." @ Det_ _Munch

    I grow on people. Especially my opinions.

    CarmineD