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The federal entitlements no one talks about

Suzanne Mettler had an interesting post yesterday at New Deal 2.0 entitled the “The Enshrined Entitlements of America’s Wealthy.” In it. she takes both political parties to task for their weak-kneed failure to tackle this genuine and largely hidden area of runaway spending.

“The super committee on deficit reduction has now disbanded without even having managed to agree on scaling back tax expenditures. These social welfare policies that are hidden in the tax code bestow their greatest benefits on high-income taxpayers, as I have shown elsewhere. They amount to over 7 percent of GDP, more than what we spend on either defense, Social Security, or Medicare and Medicaid combined, not to mention domestic discretionary programs, which cost far less than any of these.”

In case you’re wondering which programs she’s talking about, this is from her “as I have shown elsewhere” hyperlink:

“The three submerged policies that are most costly to the United States are the tax subsidies for employer-provided health and retirement benefits and the home mortgage interest deduction. Each of these three policies favors more affluent Americans, as seen in the figure below. In 2004, families with incomes of $100,000 or above—the top 15 percent of the income distribution—claimed 69 percent of the benefits of the home mortgage interest deduction, and 55 and 30 percent of the tax benefits associated with employer-provided retirement benefits and health benefits, respectively.”

But of course we mustn’t complain about such realities so as not to be enagaged in “class warfare.”

5 Comments


  1. Nonanonymous

    November 30, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Rob,

    It’s interesting that we continue to argue the same points from opposing sides. Maybe the Tea Party and OWS have more in common than most people realize. They are both protests against the same injustice, namely wealth and income disparity in the new global economy.

    How is that, you ask? Easy, we’re all getting the shaft by the same 1/10 of 1 percent and the 1 percent that they support.

    That’s trickle down economics for you.

  2. Eunice

    November 30, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Unemployment was 4% during the trickle down years ! What is it now with Obama’s trickle up policies ?

  3. david esmay

    November 30, 2011 at 10:47 am

    @Eunice, supply side Reagan voodoo economics has always been trickle up, the GOP sold it as trickle down. That low unemployment was a bubble that was bound to burst given the Bush/Cheney economic and tax policies, it was all an illusion, supported by debt financed growth, and propagandized by conservatives. Even old supply siders like Bruce Bartlett and David Stockman have admitted this, once again, you ain’t got a clue. The President can’t undo the end result of 30 years of repub borrow and spend, welfare for the rich and corporate economic policies, in three years.

  4. david esmay

    November 30, 2011 at 11:26 am

    One more thing there Eunice, we’ve had 20 straight months of job growth in the private sector, yet we still have not regained the massive losses that occured during the last 12 months of the Bush administration. We had eight years of Bush’s trickle down experiment and the wealthy got richer, while the wages of average workers were driven down, and you conservatives are advocating a return to the policies that devastated the economy in the first place, you must be putting LSD in your coffee.

  5. The Mendacity of Hope

    November 30, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    President Obama is NOT looking out for public health….He may be worse than Bush

    http://www.progressivereform.org/CPRBlog.cfm?idBlog=EA35C6AD-D47F-EC16-C57E798F4EE9747D

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