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Addressing The Growing Dependence On Government ^ | 4/25/02 | Jeff Johnson

Posted on 04/25/2002 3:34:39 AM PDT by kattracks

Capitol Hill ( - A Republican congressman says Americans are too dependent on government, and politicians are taking advantage of it.

Rep. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). this week addressed a Heritage Foundation forum examining America's growing dependence on entitlement programs.

"Americans are becoming increasingly addicted to government, and politicians are becoming the dealers of the drug named 'dependency,'" DeMint said.

"Everyday in America, more and more people are receiving benefits from the federal government, getting their income and their health care from the federal government and fewer and fewer people are paying for it," he said.

The conservative congressman says democracy cannot continue if the number of people dependent on government continues to increase.

"We must figure out how to convince people that they are most secure when they hold their own future in their own hand, that they're most secure when they're most free," DeMint added.

Peter Kirsanow, President Bush's disputed appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, agrees, saying that government dependency is the "antithesis of liberty."

"Those who get government housing forfeit the right to determine where, how, and with whom they live. Those who get food stamps have given up the choices as to where and for what to shop, and those who depend on government for education have given up the ability to choose where their kids or how their kids are going to be taught," he said.

Kirsanow believes there are now more than 100 major federal programs that foster dependency.

"It's degrading, demeaning, and dehumanizing. And it's not an exaggeration to say that it's modern serfdom," he added.

The former chairman of the board of the Center for New Black Leadership blames much of the dependency problem on what he sees as the inherent unfairness in the tax code.

"When citizens have figured out that they can vote themselves benefits paid for by others, they're going to do so with unbridled gusto," he said.

"This is fed by a radically-progressive tax code where the top 25 percent of taxpayers pay 80 percent of all taxes, the bottom 50 percent pay only four percent of all taxes, and that doesn't include the millions who pay no taxes whatsoever," he continued, "and those who pay little or no taxes are the ones most likely to access dependency programs."

Kirsanow says those who receive benefits must be made to perceive their costs if they are ever to support change.

To track those costs, the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis has developed the "Index of Dependency." The index charts the growth of five categories of federal programs that substitute for similar initiatives from lower levels of government or private organizations:

- Housing assistance (30%);
- Health and welfare support (25%);
- Retirement income (20%);
- Post-secondary educational subsidies (15%); and
- Rural and agricultural services (10%).

The percentage in parenthesis following each category is the "weight" of that individual category in the index, based on its relative importance.

William Beach, director of the Center for Data Analysis, says the weights center on the year 1980 because that year is believed to mark "the beginning of the decline of left-of-center public policy and the emergence of right-of-center challenges" to those policies.

Therefore, when the historical data dating back to 1962 and projections through 2020 are viewed, the year 1980 appears as a "100" on the graph.

Beach says conservatives may be surprised at the current trends in the index.

"If Congress and the administration continue to spend, they will be outstripping the growth rate of the index in the Carter and first Bush administrations," he said.

The index currently stands at 138, its highest ever. It has declined only twice since 1962, once during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, and again after Republicans were elected to a majority in Congress in 1994.

"Several key policy debates over the next few years - welfare reform, higher education support, health care reform - will likely determine the index's rate of change for the next decade, if not well beyond," Beach added.

DeMint says conservatives must use a "liberal means" to reach a "conservative end" in those policy debates.

"We must recognize that there are some people who are disadvantaged that need help," he said.

"We have to convince them, on these major entitlement programs, that they're going to actually get more in terms of benefits if they own their own Social Security, that they will have more flexibility with their health care if they actually have a medical savings account that the government contributes to, whether it be through Medicaid or Medicare," DeMint said.

It is the difference, he says, between cutting spending and spending smarter.

"That's the challenge that we face. The illusion that we are going to take all the folks who are dependent and win them to the idea of cutting benefits; it isn't going to happen," DeMint added.

He cites the bill that he and House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) have introduced to change the nation's supplemental retirement income system as an example.

"It guarantees Social Security at the current level for every American," DeMint explained. "It only creates an up side for the future generation as their accounts get larger than the current program."

He believes people will willingly participate in alternative programs that obviously produce greater benefits, including the benefit of independence.

"We're going to make people better off by transforming a benefit that makes you dependent into one that's actually wealth creating and creates independence," DeMint concluded. "We're going to have to entice them out of dependency.

E-mail a news tip to Jeff Johnson.

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TOPICS: Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events

1 posted on 04/25/2002 3:34:39 AM PDT by kattracks
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To: kattracks
"We're going to have to entice them out of dependency."

Don't entice them, throw them out into the real world. They'll have to figure out for themselves that check isn't coming on the 1st.

2 posted on 04/25/2002 3:51:05 AM PDT by Pern
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To: kattracks
Everyday in America, more and more people are receiving benefits from the federal government, getting their income and their health care from the federal government and fewer and fewer people are paying for it

A one way ticket to insurrection, civil war and the downfall of America. Isn't it funny how the weak point of any free republic seems to be the tax system ?

Maybe the next great, free republic will have that all figured out.

Here's to America 2.0.


3 posted on 04/25/2002 3:57:42 AM PDT by tm22721
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To: Pern
Wishful thinking.

Do you have the votes? Alternatively, do you have the law? Prior Supreme Courts have stripped the Constitutional restraints from government, putting elected politicians above the law. And the composition of the current Court has recently proved it is not capable of correcting those errors. And the current Senate is unlikely to allow significant changes to the composition of the current Court.

We are the closing segments of the last quarter and the clock is about to run out. Medicare goes irreversibly into the red in 2008 and Social Security follows suit in 2012. Financial chaos will rain down on the US destroying our currency, our Treasury, and any remaining wealth that you have that is not portable or that can be hidden. What you have that is not GOLD is vulnerable. There will be no presidential election in 2016 because the US will cease to exist as a politically recognizable nation.

Can this be avoided? Maybe, if we act soon.

What can be done?

4 posted on 04/25/2002 5:53:36 AM PDT by B. A. Conservative
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To: kattracks
Rep. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)

Election year "talk about conservative issues" crap.

They'll go back to running the great society in January

5 posted on 04/25/2002 6:02:26 AM PDT by WhiteGuy
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To: kattracks
This is one to bookmark. About seven times during the first half of this article, I found myself thinking, "No sh!t."
6 posted on 04/25/2002 11:59:11 AM PDT by tdadams
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To: kattracks
Kirsanow is just the kind of thinker we want on the Civil Rights Commission, and eventually the Supreme Court. Call out the National Guard to throw Mary Francis Berry out on her @$$.
7 posted on 04/25/2002 12:01:41 PM PDT by tdadams
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To: tdadams
Newt Gingrich tried to fix some of that, and look what we did to *him*!
8 posted on 04/25/2002 6:18:11 PM PDT by gcruse
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9 posted on 04/25/2002 6:18:28 PM PDT by Bob J
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