Like many other freeloading losers, I receive a wide range of government handouts. Taxpayers give me money to pay for housing and health care. For years the government helped me pay my student loan interest. Federal money has helped me cover the cost of raising my children and placing them in daycare. The “producer class” subsidizes my lifestyle in more ways than I can count.
I’m a white married suburbanite with a great job who lives in a really nice neighborhood. My house is surrounded by a white picket fence – no kidding. I haven’t broken into the 1% just yet, but I have ambitions.
I am the face of the Welfare State. And so are you.
We can’t hope to rein in government spending and reform our entitlement culture until we are willing to view it honestly. Borrowed government money is spread out all over our culture and few of us are volunteering to give it up.
I earn tax deductions for the courageous public service of holding a mortgage. I get tax credits for having kids. The government credits me money for contributing to a retirement account. Tax deductions subsidize my medical costs through a convenient flex spending card and deductions help me pay my health insurance premiums.
At different times in my life taxpayers helped me pay for day care and student loan interest with deductions. And it doesn’t stop there. Taxpayers are going to help me buy a beach house by subsidizing my interest payments, taxes, and maintenance costs.
Just like the coffee I drink, my entitlements aren’t cheap. The mortgage interest deduction by itself costs the taxpayers more than the entire Food Stamp Program. That’s right, even at the depth of the Great Recession, with enrollment at a record high, food stamps cost $70bn a year compared to $100bn for the mortgage interest credit. Federal “tax expenditures,” those myriad little giveaways that reduce personal and corporate tax payments, cost over a trillion dollars a year – twice as much as Medicare.
It takes serious chutzpah, supported by a generous dose of bigotry, to vehemently defend Medicare and the mortgage interest deduction while ranting about an entitlement culture. In their “outreach” to black communities, Tea Party figures like Allen West decry a plantation mentality that keeps African-Americans voting for Democrats. They claim that blacks are chained to government programs that keep them poor.
Where do affluent suburbanites fit on this plantation? What’s keeping the oppressed white folk from throwing off the chains of their flex cards and free Rascal scooters? Liberation, by this definition, is best for the other guy.
Congress is beginning to flirt with the Simpson-Bowles plan which would trim entitlements in every direction. It’s time for the public to get behind it. We can’t keep paying for this lifestyle. For a long list of reasons we need to make real Bill Clinton’s hollow claim that “the age of big government is over.”
I’m ready to leave this plantation. You go first.