PolicyShop on the largely nonexistent scourge of able-bodied but lazy masses who mooch off of hardworking taxpayers:
The Great Recession has led to falling labor force participation and soaring social spending, particularly for food stamps and unemployment benefits. Never mind the economic causes of these trends; the United States, the right argues, has been drifting toward a country where a dwindling band of “makers” support a growing army of “takers,” with the most successful and hardest working people — wealthy job creators — paying much of the tab to subsidize a nation of freeloaders.
Now, the right’s Freeloader Nation critique has moved to the center of Mitt Romney’s campaign…in selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney has chosen one of Congress’s most vociferous critics of the safety net.
Start with the big picture: Only a tiny sliver of overall government assistance — less than 10 percent — goes to non-working adults in their prime years, and much of that is in the form of emergency assistance to people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. While Romney wrote in an op-ed last year that “Government dependency can only foster passivity and sloth,” there are few signs of a growing army of layabouts subsisting on the dole.
On the contrary, as reported by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities early this year:
more than 90 percent of the benefit dollars that entitlement and other mandatory programs spend go to assist people who are elderly, seriously disabled, or members of working households — not to able-bodied, working-age Americans who choose not to work. This figure has changed little in the past few years.
Are there some malingerers and shirkers in the system? Of course, and we should always be looking to reduce that. But these folks are not the source of some national crisis.