Dependence on Government Growing in U.S

Human Eventsby Matt Hadro


America has reached a tipping point in its citizens' dependence on government, according to a new report by the Heritage Foundation.

2009 was a “historic” year for the increase in American dependence on government, said Heritage's 2009 Index of Dependence on Government. The index reports the growth of federal programs geared towards providing aid to people in need.

“Are Americans near a tipping point in the nature of their government and the principles that tie it to civil life?” wrote William Beach, head of Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis (CDA), after describing the ever-larger numbers of Americans who look to the government for entitlements while expecting to pay little or no taxes.

“A fair reading of these trends and the data contained in this Index leads almost inescapably to the view that yes, Americans have reached that point,” Beach writes.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), spoke on the panel with Beach, at Heritage’s conference titled “Is America Sinking into the Dependency Abyss?”

Sen. DeMint stated that the spirit of independence has made America great, and yet the ever-increasing dependence of Americans on government assistance for health care, welfare and education, will prove perilous to American independence.

“I don’t think we’ve gone past the tipping point, but if we go past this November, I will say this: Without an electoral earthquake, I don’t think it’s recoverable,” the senator told the audience.

“If the healthcare bill goes into effect, what it’s going to do is bankrupt our country, and destroy healthcare…I’m not sure it is retrievable,” DeMint added.

The number of Americans dependent on government assistance for entitlements has swelled considerably, while the number of taxpayers has shrunk. The report said that in the last eight years, the index of government dependence has grown by almost 33%.

Members of the panel made the following points in their discussion of American dependence:

1. For the first time since the Great Depression, Americans are receiving more aid from the government than they are paying in taxes.

2. Since 1980, when the base year of the Index stood at 100, the CDA Index has ballooned to 240, based on data ending in 2008.

3. Unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare are now estimated at $100 trillion, and 10,000 “baby boomers” are retiring every day.

4. More Americans are not paying taxes. An estimated 34% of all taxpayers have zero tax liability, and the U.S. is approaching levels of one-third of taxpayers not paying taxes for federal benefits that they receive.

5. Housing assistance is at the second-highest level in history.

“Remember that when governments get bigger, citizens get smaller. It’s an equation,” Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) told the audience at Heritage.

“It becomes a very big problem in a free country like this when you’ve got nearly half of the voters who are dependent for essential personal services on the federal government,” said Sen. DeMint. More: