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Dependent America

The number of Americans who are dependent on some sort of government assistance is growing at an alarming rate. Let's be very clear about this: We cannot sustain this, yet we currently do not have a plan in place to do anything about it.

Last week I told you how 14 million Americans now collect a disability check from the government every single month, costing the taxpayers $260 billion a year. We spend more money on disability programs than food stamps and welfare combined. There are a few alarming trends to note:

- There have been double digit increases in the percentage of Americans collecting Social Security disability under Barack Obama.

- People collecting Social Security disability are not only not counted in the labor force, but they are unlikely to re-enter the labor force! According to the recent six-month investigation, “Less than 1% of people who went on disability at the beginning of 2011 have returned to the workforce.” The program has become a crutch for those who lack skills or education.

- The CBO estimates that ObamaCare will boost disability insurance rolls. In other words, the costs for a program that will already run out of its reserve money in 2016 is only expected to grow.

Then we get an astounding report from the Wall Street Journal: “Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as the modern-day food-stamp benefit is known, has soared 70% since 2008 to a record 47.8 million as of December 2012.” The Obama administration has enabled this to happen. Between Obama's failed recovery and his administration relaxing the rules for means-testing, participating in food stamps has been encouraged. Last year the U.S. Department of Agriculture spent $3 million on advertising, encouraging people to sign up! So we are using taxpayer money to encourage people to sign up for a program that consumes more taxpayer money. That makes sense! The Wall Street Journal reports: “The government spent a record $74.6 billion on SNAP benefits last year, roughly equivalent to the combined budgets of the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the Department of the Interior.”

I am not saying that there isn't a role for our government to help those who are less fortunate. But welfare, food stamps, disability … it's all been warped into a lifestyle that is actively encouraged. Instead, it should act as a hand up, helping people in times of need get on their feet and become working, self-sustaining, productive members of society once again. But that's not the case, and I would argue it is no longer the goal in the eyes of many. It makes it difficult to separate those who truly need the help from those who are simply benefiting from a government that is now willing to subsidize their lifestyle.