More Americans On Government Entitlement Than Working Full Time

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There are more Americans receiving some form of means-tested government benefit than there are full time workers, according to Census Bureau data released recently.

Well, actually the data is for 2011 – but there’s every reason to believe the gap has only widened since the reporting period two year ago.

From CNS News:

There were 108,592,000 people in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2011 who were recipients of one or more means-tested government benefit programs, the Census Bureau said in data released this week. Meanwhile, according to the Census Bureau, there were 101,716,000 people who worked full-time year round in 2011. That included both private-sector and government workers.

That means there were about 1.07 people getting some form of means-tested government benefit for every 1 person working full-time year round.

What are “means-tested” benefits? Any government entitlement that is contingent on a person’s income or demographic qualifications. In many cases, means testing is applied to scale the amount of money higher-income Americans must pay the government (chiefly in taxes) in order to offset the meager or nonexistent amount that benefit recipients must pay to cover the overall cost of entitlement programs.

Food Stamps (SNAP) is a means-tested entitlement. So are Medicaid, SSI, WIC and TANF. In fact, simply being a recipient of one of these programs is now adequate proof, so far as the government is concerned, that you qualify for other means-tested entitlements you may not yet be receiving.

CNS breaks down the 2011 numbers further:

Among the 108,592,000 people who fit the Census Bureau’s description of a means-tested benefit recipient in the fourth quarter of 2011 were 82,457,000 people in households receiving Medicaid, 49,073,000 beneficiaries of food stamps, 20,223,000 on Supplemental Security Income, 23,228,000 in the Women, Infants and Children program, 13,433,000 in public or subsidized rental housing, and 5,854,000 in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Also among the 108,592,000 means-tested benefit recipients counted by the Census Bureau were people getting free or reduced-price lunch or breakfast, state-administered supplemental security income and means-tested veterans pensions.

Back in 2011, American Enterprise Institute scholar Andrew Biggs wrote a lengthy piece outlining the regressive and intrusive character of means testing as a way of calculating (and, indeed, justifying) entitlement benefits. Agree with his conclusions or not, the piece offers a thorough explanation of means testing, as well as the financial stakes of propping up and expanding government entitlements at a time when American is on the cusp of a historic surge in the drawdowns on its number-one means-tested benefit – Medicaid.

Read Biggs’ full piece here.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • John

    If California had better legislature for injured/I’ll emploee’s, maybe or more like probably their would be less people on social security, food stamps and general assistance programs. The senate and congress as well as the president in 1998 are all people that didn’t want to do anything about it then and look what it’s turning into now!

  • CYNICALZ

    Bob, what do you expect with obama’s Socialist agenda. It is brilliant, Make the folks dependent on government and our freedom is sadly done.

    • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

      That is part of the “Little Boy Dictator’s” plan to DESTROY THE COUNTRY…

      • Vis Fac

        The little boy dictator is merely a tool go here to see

        http://vimeo.com/63749370
        Agenda Grinding America Down

        To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the wolf, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.

        You don’t have to be a Marine to make a difference the only requirement is being truly patriotic and the willingness to back it up!!!

        Libertas inaestimabilis res est
        Semper Fi

        • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

          i have already seen that video….
          I fully realize that what is happening is part of a very deep problem that goes way back….I have traced many of the things and the evil that we face back many hundreds of years …some of it has its roots in the Bible…Throughout History there are so many people who on the surface looked like they were part of the good guys….but when you look undernearth they were just another part of the evil…

  • Chester

    Wonder how many of those people were counted as a different person two, three, or four times? If you qualify for SSI, you also qualify for SNAP, and medicaid, at the very least. and ALL SSI programs are state assisted. Do believe you could pretty much cut those numbers in half, or more, and come a lot closer to the truth.

    • mark

      Exactly, you are right. These numbers are exaggerated to foment class anger against the unemployed, the poor, the retired, and the disabled. Obviously some people game the system but there are lots of people who still cannot find a job in this weak economy, are disabled and/or too old to work anymore. And children of the poor get school lunches and Head Start remedial education. Just because some of these unfortunate people, children, and retirees receive means-tested payments or benefits does not make them parasites.

      • BHR

        These numbers are not exaggerated, they come directly from the government CDC.

        • Progressive Republican

          The Centers for Disease Control?

          • mark

            Yes, but they don’t separate them out properly and therefore give a distorted picture.

          • BHR

            There are to many government agencies to remember, I should have written CBO. Thank you for showing me my mistake.

  • Bebop

    What are “means-tested” benefits? Any government entitlement that is contingent on a person’s income or demographic qualifications. In many cases, means testing is applied to scale the amount of money higher-income Americans must pay the government (chiefly in taxes) in order to offset the meager or nonexistent amount that benefit recipients must pay to cover the overall cost of entitlement programs.
    Okay, that was copied directly from the article above…and it is hardly comprehensible to someone who regularly reads American English ???
    I realize that many of us who pay taxes regret that some of our taxes support some folks we may not like, but wtf does this article purport to say….nothing intelligible, does it….And so far, I enjoyed this website, but, alas, too much Tee !

    • mark

      You’re right, it says very little. It also mixes in children, the elderly, and the disabled with the overall number receiving entitlements and then measures them all, the combined total, against working adults which naturally distorts the comparison.

      • Robert Messmer

        The last time I checked children, the elderly, and the disabled all counted as people so the comparison of people receiving benefits to those working would not be distorted. What would distort it is the question asked by Chester as to if the person was counted separately for each program they qualified for. My wife is disabled and “qualifies” for what Florida calls “Medically Needy Medicaid”. All we have to do to have that kick in is to spend about 96% of our monthly income on “qualifying medical expenses”. Needless to say she will never benefit from that program since we have rent, utilities and the nasty habit of eating every day. But would she have been counted as a person receiving benefit?

  • Diane Ringen

    This is the plan to destroy those who are working and America!

  • Vis Fac

    Find out why here:

    http://vimeo.com/63749370
    Agenda Grinding America Down

    To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the wolf, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.

    You don’t have to be a Marine to make a difference the only requirement is being truly patriotic and the willingness to back it up!!!

    Libertas inaestimabilis res est
    Semper Fi

  • BHR

    This can not last much longer, someone has to work.

    The true American debt including all unfunded entitlements is $222 trillion. This debt keeps going up each year. China quite buying our debt bonds 2 years ago as did most countries. America is buying its own debt at $88 billion per month.

    Our government spends $ 1 million dollars per minute. If this does not scare you, nothing will, or you do not understand economics.

    • disqus_QbFtj0t67r

      need to slash the military budget by 50% — if the individual states believe the military should be larger, we can re-institute state militias.

      After that, we are on our way to a balanced budget; slash corporate subsidies, slash farm subsidies; reduce “entitlement” programs….and heaven help me….let people die if they don’t have health insurance.

  • Progressive Republican

    Reaganomics at it’s “best”.

    • fahkir1

      Your moniker in itself is a LIE! Just like your statement!

      • Progressive Republican

        0 – 2. Gonna go for three?

    • Michael Shreve

      Reagonomics hasn’t been PRACTICED for over 30 YEARS.

      • Progressive Republican

        Would that that were true.

        • Michael Shreve

          Would that you actually UNDERSTOOD Reaganomics.

          • Progressive Republican

            Far better than one who would post, “Reagonomics hasn’t been PRACTICED for over 30 YEARS.”

            Pff.

          • Michael Shreve

            What I LIKE about DISCUSSIONS is how much genuine information is exchanged. Reagonomics is based on the premise that POOR people don’t create jobs, they take them. It also assumes that MONEY is useless if not spent, and that EVERYONE who has money will strive to accumulate more. Given that there are more takers than earners, CLEARLY few are PRACTICING Reagonomics. What we are practicing is Robin Hood economics, at least till there are no more “rich” to steal from.

          • Progressive Republican

            “What I LIKE about DISCUSSIONS is how much genuine information is exchanged.”

            Would not have guessed that from you initial response due to it’s lack of accuracy.

            I like the same things with genuine discussions as well.

            So, let’s get started, eh? I’ll submit the first facts.

            Reaganomics’ first foray into reality began with the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, followed by the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, but the REAL meat-n-potatoes of the deal was the Tax Reform Act of 1986 which reduced the top marginal tax rate and increased the tax rates on lower incomes.

            So as you can see, while the lesser parts of Reaganomics WERE enacted over thirty years ago as you stated, however the crux of the theory was enacted LESS than thirty years ago.

            The principles of the theory, decreasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations, union-busting, deregulation, etc., are clearly still in play today. Therefore your contention that, “”Reagonomics hasn’t been PRACTICED for over 30 YEARS.” does not hold water.

          • Michael Shreve

            What you, and many others, CALL Regonomics is anything but. Reducing the top MARGINAL rates (putting money in the hands of producers) WORKS, but not unless SPENDING, and regulation, is also reduced.

          • Progressive Republican

            Were that true, there would have been no recession. Putting money into the hands of your “producers” winds up taking it out of the hands of purchasers: the engine of any economy.

            Have you examined the effects of Reaganomics on Chile? They did everything they were supposed to.

            Didn’t go so well.

  • Tinker

    The only difference between the Great Depression & now is the free phones, housing & food stamps, when they dry up people will begin to riot.

    • mark

      No, the real employment rate when you include the underemployed and those who have quit looking for work today is about 14%. In 1931-1934 it was 3 times higher: over 40%. This deep and prolonged recession/weak recovery, though painful, is nothing compared to the Great Depression. GDP in 2008-2009 fell around 4.3%. In 1930-1933, it fell 27%.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recessions_in_the_United_States

  • fahkir1

    And who do we have to thank for this?

    The Demoncrats. THEY are the ones who forced the banks to loosen the regulations so the scum of the earth could “own” a home. Most of them had no intention of paying for it. Many of the generational welfare bunch move from house to house to house. Mainly because they would rather party than pay the bills with the money the government GIVES them. THEY are the ones who relaxed the tariffs on imported good so their cronies could start shipping jobs overseas. YES, the DEMONCRATS started that. All of your fables won’t change it. You feeble attempts to create lies won’t alter the truth. All of you who think the republicans did it are full of chit. You can lie to yourself all you like, but it won’t change to truth.

  • Michael Shreve

    WE THE PEOPLE actually voted for this.

  • laura merrone

    Some of these numbers overlap so this article isn’t exactly correct. However, a lot of people are getting entitlements which is against the Constitution and its limited government. If government would quit taking from the rich to give to the poor, maybe nonprofit groups would step in to do it and really help people. In my lifetime, I’ve seen a proliferation of WiC benefits to the point where it is now a large percentage of women on it and it goes back several generations. This along with food stamps and welfare payments, produced a dependent class that will never earn much money except maybe for an occasional part time job. Only prosperity produces full time jobs and I don’t see any of that happening in the US in the future. Only more of the same…unless we change courses of course.