WSJ: Half of All Americans Received Government Benefits of Some Kind

Friday, 07 Oct 2011 09:17 AM

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Nearly half — 48.5 percent — of the population received a government benefit or handout of some sort, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing Census data.

More people rely on assistance from the government today than they did when the country was actually in a recession: 44.4 percent received benefits in the third quarter of 2008.

"The share of people relying on government benefits has reached a historic high, in large part from the deep recession and meager recovery, but also because of the expansion of government programs over the years," The Wall Street Journal reports.

Most of the money doled out came via needs-based programs, as 34.2 percent lived in a household that received benefits like food stamps, subsidized housing, cash welfare or Medicaid.

Meanwhile, revenue sources funding such programs are on the decline.

"High unemployment and increased reliance on government programs has also shrunk the nation’s share of taxpayers," the newspaper reports on its website.

"Some 46.4 percent of households will pay no federal income tax this year, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That’s up from 39.9 percent in 2007, the year the recession began."

States, meanwhile, that borrowed from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits now have to pay Washington back, which means they'll slap fresh taxes on private companies to pay the tab.

That's going to hurt small business owners like Joe Olivo, owner of Perfect Printing in Moorestown, N.J., who says he'll pay an additional $24,000 this year in unemployment insurance taxes.

That's on top of added healthcare costs.

"The problem is I can't grow my sales fast enough or raise my prices fast enough to make up for that additional expense," Olivo tells the AP.

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