Congressional Republicans are claiming that Democratic spending is out of control, and that cuts need to be made to a large variety of “social engineering” programs, especially entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare.
But upon closer examination, it turns out that Republicans are actually spending just as much on social programs when they are in power — they just put their money in a different collection basket.
Via Mother Jones:
The federal government can spend money on social programs two ways: directly, via ordinary tax-funded programs (Medicare, food stamps, etc.) or indirectly, via tax expenditures (tax deductions for charitable contributions, employer health insurance, etc.). Christopher Faricy, a political science professor at Washington State, recently examined both types of spending over the past 40 years and concluded that the big spenders aren’t who you think they are:
The traditional narrative of Democratic party control of the federal government resulting in higher levels of social spending needs to be reconsidered….Social spending over the last 40 years grows on average around 5% a year regardless of which political party is sitting in the majority.
….An increase in indirect social spending has the same budgetary effect as direct social spending. For example, an increase in tax expenditures for private health care insurance that costs the Treasury $100 million dollars has the exact same effect on the budget deficit as a newly proposed public health insurance option that is projected at $100 million dollars….One major implication of these findings is that the jurisdiction of social provision, not the financial effort, shifts with changes to political party control of government.
So, if Republicans are spending just as much, if not more in some cases, on social programs, then why are they constantly cutting social programs in the guise of “balancing the budget?”
Because the programs being eliminated do not provide a form of wealth kickback to their pool of voters. It’s better, according to the GOP, to provide a tax break to a rich person for donating to charities to help the poor or hungry than it is to ensure social security can provide for people in their old age. It’s better, says the conservatives, to pad the pockets of faith-based agencies that can choose to discriminate in who they hire or who they serve than to have adequate health care available to all people regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation.
Democrats may be instituting a “nanny state” by trying to mandate a safety net for all Americans, but the Republicans are the ones truly doing the social engineering as they continue their crusade to defund programs and replace them with their own charities and non-profits that can pick and choose agendas to push.
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