Exporting Welfare

By:  Laurence M. Vance
Exporting Welfare

The U.S. government borrows nearly half of what it spends, yet it gives billions to countries around the world, though foreign aid hasn’t led the Third World poor to prosperity.

Back in 1979, the Department of Education was formed from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). But instead of shortening the name of the older department to the Department of Health and Welfare, it was re-christened the Department of Health and Human Services. The term “welfare” has since fallen into disuse in other areas as well. “Income security,” “entitlement,” and “public assistance” are now the usual terms for what used to be called “welfare” programs. Even the well-known food-stamp program has been renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

But regardless of what they are called, federal programs such as SNAP; Head Start; Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); Supplemental Security Income (SSI); the National School Lunch Program (NSLP); Medicaid; the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP); the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP); job training; Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and Section 8 rent subsidies are welfare programs.

According to John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis, the federal government actually has “126 means tested welfare programs.”

Other welfare programs that are often not viewed as such include unemployment compensation, Social Security, Medicare, and the refundable portion of tax credits.

The unemployment-insurance program pays benefits through the states to those who are unemployed. It is only partially funded by unemployment taxes paid by employers. Social Security provides government benefits for retirement, disability, survivorship, and death. Although it is mostly funded by payroll taxes, there is absolutely no relation between Social Security taxes paid and benefits received. Medicare is government-funded healthcare for Americans 65 years old and older and for those who are permanently disabled. It is funded by a combination of income-based beneficiary premiums and taxpayer subsidies. But like Social Security, there is absolutely no relation between Medicare taxes paid and benefits received. Regular tax credits that provide a dollar-for-dollar reduction of the amount of income tax owed are not welfare. But tax credits that are in some way refundable are certainly welfare because if the tax-credit “payment” is more than the tax owed, the taxpayer receives a refund of money he never paid in.

All federal welfare programs are clearly illegitimate and unconstitutional functions of the federal government. They are socialistic, they are collectivist, they foster dependency on the government, they are income-transfer programs, they are social-engineering schemes, they shift responsibility from the individual to society and from families to the state, they contribute to class warfare, they crowd out genuine charity, and they are the means by which the federal government takes $2 trillion a year from some Americans and gives it to other Americans.

There is another euphemism for a welfare scheme that is far worse than any of those mentioned above: foreign aid. This is aid given by the U.S. government to people in other countries, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. This should be distinguished from private charitable aid, funded by voluntary donations.

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