Report: Government dependency jumps 25 percent since 2005

Adam Jablonowski Contributor
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The American public’s dependency on government programs jumped almost 25 percent since 2005, according to a study released Wednesday by The Heritage Foundation, which found that roughly 67 million Americans now depend on government programs.

Current policies that measure entitlement eligibility are flawed and have created a fiscal nightmare, according to the report.

The Heritage Foundation found that dependence on the government grew steadily since 1962, when its dependency index stood at 19. By 1980, the index rose to 100, and it grew to 294 in 2010.

The rate of government dependency growth under Obama has been comparable to Jimmy Carter’s presidency, according to the report. Increases in housing subsidies, an expansion in Medicaid, changes to the welfare system, and a sudden rise in food stamp issuance have been the main contributors to dependency growth.

As “baby boomers” age and become eligible for Social Security and Medicare, government expenditures will balloon, the report finds, with the programs going from 42 percent of non-interest federal spending now to around 62 percent of spending in two decades.

A large number of new retirees eligible for benefits will be middle-class citizens that don’t immediately need government assistance, the report notes.

The study calculated its index to measure the “weight” (number of people dependent) of government programs. Housing carried the largest burden, followed by health care and welfare services, retirement services, higher education and agricultural services.

The most significant problem, identified by the report, is that almost half of Americans don’t pay income taxes. The study showed that 49.5 percent of Americans reported paying no income tax in 2009. The figure in the late 1960s was only 12 percent.

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