Funny How That Might or Might Not Change One’s Opinion
A report in the New York Times shows that one change that is taking place in
’s economy is that government programs meant to provide a safety net for the poor are becoming the safety net for the new poor. The new poor in this case are the formerly middle class families that can no longer lead a middle class life. America
The story focuses on people like Ki Gulbranson
Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government.
Now $39,000 a year is not great, but it should keep a family off of government welfare programs.
Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.
Mr. Gulbranson lives in prosperous Chicago county north of
, the kind of area that should not have needy people. But in today’s economy that is no longer true. Minneapolis
Older people get most of the benefits, primarily through Social Security and Medicare, but aid for the rest of the population has increased about as quickly through programs for the disabled, the unemployed, veterans and children.
And of course if anyone thinks that would change the attitude by recipients, that attitude being that they are opposed to government programs that help people who need help, well political philosophy trumps economics
Support for spending cuts runs strong in Chisago, where anger at the government helped fuel Mr. Cravaack’s upset victory in 2010 over James L. Oberstar, the Democrat who had represented northeast
for 36 years. Minnesota
“Spending like this is simply unsustainable, and it’s time to cut up
Washington, D.C.’s credit card,” Mr. Cravaack said in a February speech to the Area Chamber of Commerce. “It may hurt now, but it will be absolutely deadly for the next generation — that’s our children and our grandchildren.” Hibbing
But even stalwart tea party adherents are maybe softening their positions after their collision with reality.
When pressed to choose between paying more and taking less, many people interviewed here hemmed and hawed and said they could not decide. Some were reduced to tears. It is much easier to promise future restraint than to deny present needs.
“How do you tell someone that you deserve to have heart surgery and you can’t?” Mr. Gulbranson said.
Funny how things work out.