Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Republicans target wealthy food stamp recipients

In today's episode of stupid political theater, the Republicans are proving their populist cred by going after shiftless millionaires who collect food stamps and unemployment benefits.
Under the Republican bill to extend a payroll tax holiday scheduled to be voted on in the House as early as Tuesday, those Americans with gross adjusted income over $1 million would no longer be eligible for food stamps or jobless pay, producing $20 million in savings to help pay for the tax cut for American workers. The idea is also embraced by many Democrats, who had a similar version of the savings in a Senate bill to extend the payroll tax cut, as did a failed Republican Senate bill.
As is rightly being pointed on the internets, the number of millionaires engaged in collecting this sort of welfare is negligible. The big bucks handouts to the super-wealthy can be found elsewhere.
Each year, the federal government hands approximately $10 billion over to the richest 1% of Americans — mainly to rich retirees — according to an IBD analysis of data on various federal transfer programs.

Using IRS data, IBD found that the top 1% of income earners claimed approximately $7 billion in Social Security benefits in 2009. That year, the program paid super-rich seniors — those with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $10 million — an average of $33,000 each.
According to the latest figures, the average Social Security beneficiary collects $14,124 annually. The other big money bite is for health care.
Medicare, meanwhile, paid roughly $2.6 billion in health care subsidies for the richest 1% of enrollees...
One might think these people already have gold plated health care insurance so I wonder how that works. Do these Medicare payments function as a undercover subsidy to the insurance companies, where they pick up the after Medicare costs? Also more generally, certain studies find that because of the way Medicare is financed, this so-called entitlement leads to "net transfers from the poor to the wealthy" since "the rich tend to live longer than the poor."

Clearly, the only way to fix this is to give the super-wealthy more tax breaks.

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