Election Issues: Entitlements – I am entitled to that?
There has been a lot of talk about “entitlements” this election. This has been a topic that Republicans like to talk about. In Mitt Romney’s infamous 47% speech, he stated that 47% of the people were going to vote for Obama, that these people felt entitled to free health care, housing and food. I’m sure we’ve all read the rhetoric on countless social media pages: people are able-bodied but they’re lazy and choose not to work, they feed off the system and mooch off the “good tax paying citizens”. Many politicians have asserted that the United States of America is becoming an “entitlement nation.” Does this sound familiar to you?
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Romney claims that those able-bodied people who receive food stamps have doubled under President Obama. Newt Gingrich has asserted that more people have been put on food stamps than under any other U.S. President. They both are wrong. If they had said that number of people accepting food stamps is higher than ever before they would be correct. However, more people were added to the food stamp program under G.W. Bush’s administration. The GOP claim that President Obama is responsible for taking the “work” out of the food stamps work requirement is also false; all but 4 states had received waivers from specific work requirements before President Obama was sworn in. If Romney & Gingrich would’ve stated that a historically high number of people are on food stamps under the Obama administration they would have been correct. Of the 46,224,722 (1:7 people) food stamp beneficiaries, 46% are children under 18 years of age, 8% are 60 years or older and 36% are white.
However, many who share this ideology fail to grasp that “entitlements” extend far beyond the scope of welfare and food stamps. In fact, nearly every American will most likely benefit from many Government Entitlement Programs in their life time. The number of people who do not understand this is concerning because of how much entitlements are being talked about in this election.
By definition an entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or legislation. A “right” is an entitlementassociated with a moral code or a social principle. A list of Government Entitlement Programs is as follows: 529 or Coverdell (college savings plans), Home Mortgage Interest Deduction, Hope or Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, Student Loans, Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, Social Security–Retirement & Survivors, Pell Grants, Unemployment Insurance, Veterans Benefits, G.I. Bill, Medicare, Head Start, Social Security Disability, SSI–Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, Welfare/Public Assistance, Government Subsidized Housing and Food Stamps.
That changes things, doesn’t it? While I agree there is a negative connotation with the word “entitlement,” and many of the above are earned and paid for with our taxes- this is the legal and long accepted definition and list of US Government Entitlement Programs. That is why so many people were outraged over Romney’s remarks- literally almost everyone will benefit by several of these in their lives. It is important to understand what is at stake when politicians talk about taking entitlements off the table. ~Penny Pfalzer