Rep. Allen West (R-FL): The Danger of A Nation of Dependents

From Rep. Allen West (R-FL):

What we see today with our vast social safety net is a growing and frightening dependency on the federal government, which is increasingly replacing our important local and private charitable efforts. The Heritage Foundation’s newly released 2012 Index of Dependency on Government show some stark details about a nation of reliance and how it’s devastating our nation’s fiscal future.

This annual study by The Heritage Foundation analyzes federal assistance programs for everything from housing, health care, and food stamps to college tuition and retirement assistance. And there are some alarming numbers indeed.

  • An estimated one in five Americans now receives aid from the federal government. That translates into more than 67.3 million Americans who rely on federal dollars for their way of life.
  • Additionally, the amount the average American receives in federal benefits jumped to $32,748 in 2010; this surpassed the average working American’s disposable personal income of $32,446.
  • At the same time, the federal taxpayer base continues to shrink, with nearly half of the U.S. population not paying any federal income taxes.

The 2012 Index of Dependence on Government

The great and calamitous fiscal trends of our time—dependence on government by an increasing portion of the American population, and soaring debt that threatens the financial integrity of the economy—worsened yet again in 2010 and 2011. The United States has long reached the point at which it must reverse the direction of both trends or face economic and social collapse. Yet policymakers made little progress on either front since the 2010 Index of Dependence on Government was published. Today, more people than ever before—67.3 million Americans, from college students to retirees to welfare beneficiaries—depend on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid, or other assistance once considered to be the responsibility of individuals, families, neighborhoods, churches, and other civil society institutions. The United States reached another milestone in 2010: For the first time in history, half the population pays no federal income taxes. Related to these disturbing trends, publicly held debt continued its amazing ascent without any plan by the government to pay it back. As if those circumstances were not dire enough, the country is about to witness the largest generational retirement in world history by a population that will depend on currently bankrupted pension and health programs.

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