- Apr 12, 2008
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- real world
Friday December 23, 2011
Welfare recipients outnumber taxpayers
That's the situation Maine faces, and perhaps other states as well
Paul LePage, the Republican governor of Maine, mentioned an uncomfortable truth in a radio address this month: Maine has more welfare recipients than income tax payers.
Democrats challenged the accuracy of this assertion.
The Bangor Daily News fact-checked LePage and discovered that 445,074 Mainers paid state income tax, while 453,194 received some sort of state aid.
In Maine, Medicaid, welfare, food stamps and subsidies for education have a combined enrollment of 660,000.
Adjusting for overlap reduces the number to 453,194 - or 8,120 more people on state assistance than there are state income taxpayers in Maine.
What is situation in West Virginia?
Nationally, only 53 percent of the nation lives in a household that pays federal income tax.
While just about every worker has taxes withheld, many people have the entire amount refunded at tax time. With child tax credits and earned income tax credits, some people get more money from filing a return than they paid in.
But 30 percent of Americans live in households that receive some sort of public assistance that is means tested, meaning a person must have an income low enough to qualify for the aid.
The data is from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2009. Some programs have expanded since then as the economy is growing very slowly.
That means 92 million people are on public assistance in one or more of its forms. That includes 33 million children - or 45 percent of all the people under 18.
Medicaid is the top government program, covering 74 million people. That is nearly one in four Americans.
The next most used public assistance program is food stamps, which covers 34 million Americans or one in nine people.
Almost 20 million people live on cash welfare and 11 million live in public housing.
Some policymakers have encouraged dependence on government programs and discouraged job creation.
Producing more dependents than taxpayers is a formula for disaster.