March 9th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

What does it mean if social welfare benefits make up 1/3 of wages, salaries in U.S.?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans have become alarmingly dependent on handouts from Uncle Sam, according to a new report.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/03/09/art.food.stamps.jpg caption=""]
Government social welfare programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance made up 35% of all public and private wages and salaries last year. That's more than one-third of all the money Americans earned.

These findings are contained in a study of government data done by TrimTabs Investment Research. In 2000, 21% of all wages and salaries in the United States came from social welfare programs. In 1960, it was just 10%.

One of the economists at TrimTabs says we're in for some difficult times ahead unless this country can get back to at least the 26% ratio it had before the recession started. And she says there are only two ways to do that: Either increase private sector wages and salaries by 35% or cut social welfare benefits by nearly a quarter. Neither of those things is likely to happen.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the so-called entitlement programs, make up more than 60% of federal spending each year. As the baby boomers get older, retire and need more medical care, the costs for those programs will only go up.

While the squabbling over budget cuts continues on Capitol Hill, you can be sure no one is touching these programs. The $60 billion measure passed by the House last month didn't touch one dime of those three programs.

As the evidence continues to mount that our country is hurtling toward an economic disaster, our government refuses to respond in any meaningful way.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if social welfare benefits make up more than 1/3 of all wages and salaries paid in the U.S.?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Mike in Brooklyn:
It means that we're in a bad Recession. One so bad that it's really a Depression. What is shocking to me about how you phrase your question, Jack, is that you fail to include all the handouts to businesses (especially the large corporations), trade associations, and "development" commissions, among other entities, that get subsidies.

Sylvia in San Diego:
It means that we are a welfare nation and in order to recover from this economic disaster, it will be very painful for many.

Larry in Springfield, Ohio:
Jack, it means that those jobs that Americans refuse to do need to be done by Americans that refuse to do them. If they are able otherwise, we need to stop paying people not to work.

Welcome to reality. The middle class used to make money and pay taxes. Now the rich make the money and don't pay taxes; the poor don't make money and receive poverty credits to keep them from attacking the system with pitchforks.

Jack, I'm certainly no authority but how can Social Security be classified as a "handout" when people who draw on it are the same people who used some of their salary to pay into it? It is money earned but saved. The Government should never have borrowed on it in the first place, and technically were not supposed to. If left alone to earn interest, most likely there would be more money now.

Nancy in Tennessee:
The answer does lie in increasing wages and salaries in the private sector by 35%. It all boils down to jobs. This country needs more jobs that will provide a living wage. Americans are hurting individually and that translates into a hurting American economy.

It means that we are a socialist country, whether we like it or not. And while people may not like the label, just try taking away all that income!

It means I'm in the wrong job!

soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. John Kenyon

    It is sad but true.. Once people are used to huge tax breaks, stimulas checks, unemployment extentions and perks, its absolutely impossible to take them all back and return to the way it was.
    A perfect example would be the teacher's unions.
    The sad reality is this.. Our government is so afraid to call a spade a spade, they continue to spend money they dont have by dolling out handouts. Its all to make the numbers look good and Wallstreet is happy. Now that we have begun our walk down a socialistic path, does anyone realy think it will ever go back? If not, when will i get MY SHARE???

    March 9, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  2. Unsurprised

    Prime Minister Thatcher said, "...and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They [socialists] always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them."

    March 9, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  3. Brian NJ

    This is exactly where the big government wants us to be.. they are hoping next years report has us at 50%.. we will truely be bought by then.. 35% is owned by the fed gov. and you thought slavery was dead... suckers.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  4. TJ from Florida

    It means the end of the U.S. as a center of economic dynamism.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  5. Greg of Mechanicsburg PA

    It means that Republicans are paving the way for the U.S. to become a third world nation. Republicans plan to close more than 16,000 classrooms, lay off 55,000 teachers, and cause 218,000 children to be kicked out of early-childhood education programs. The Republicans would slash homeland security investments and lay off thousands of police officers and firefighters, leaving our communities less safe. Republicans endorse policies that encourage employers to export jobs to India and China or import visa employees from overseas rather than invest in the education of Americans. In addition, we educate the rest of the world and then kick them out when we should be retaining their talent here, making the educated part of our American culture by expanding paths to citizenship for desirable aliens that help to expand our economy rather than place additional burden on our social infrastructure.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  6. cheryl hebert

    does any one else think that the cuts should start with the politions? they need to pay for their own health care. they also need to not recieve large retirement packages.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  7. Bill

    Jack, it means the dems have been in charge for way too long and people dont know how to work because of the dems.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  8. twist

    All this demonstrates it that all of the recent company "profit increases" we've heard about are being done on the backs o workers who can do nothing about it. We're obviously not paying a living wage. Maybe if social was cut people would start to see what they were really getting from their companies and protest.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  9. lisa johnson

    It means that the corporations are getting richer at the expense of the American worker

    March 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  10. Tommo

    What does it mean? It means that honest, hardworking, productive people like me will continue to support the taxes imposed by left-wing Communist liberals like Nancy Pelosi who are hell-bent on running this country into the ground.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  11. Annie, Atlanta

    And equating Social Security and Medicare with entitlement programs is dishonest, and that's being kind. These programs are paid for by taxpayers. Politicians raiding our treasures can in no way make these programs something they are not – welfare. And if Social Security is such a horrible program, why do Republicans want their friends on Wall Street to have their slimy hands all over it so badly?

    March 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  12. chad

    I don't think there is a singular meaning to remarkable statistics such as these. I would be extremely interested in what this number would be if income for the lower half hadn't been stagnate since the 70's.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  13. Joe

    Why is it alright for the federal government to charge me money all my working life for social security and then for them to try to rig it so that I never get a dime of it back? you know they might not be taking out as much as they will eventually pay but that money if held by me or invested during those working years would provide a return making it more valuable than just the amount taken. I want my social security that I invested in for all my working life. How about we cut the funding for the world police force called the US Military? The defense budget should be the offense budget because I never see the military defending our country they are like unpaid mercenaries for other countries. Bill them. Iraq and the Saudis should be giving us free gas for life after as much as we have spent there.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  14. Jim, Cranford, NJ

    It means that the American Dream has become an American nightmare. Remember we are borrowing much of that income from overseas. America will become a nation of indentured servants.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  15. cyberCMDR

    Of course, what this ignores is the fact that Social Security was supposed to be based on what people had already put into the system, i.e. the "salaries" at retirement was prepaid by workers. This is no longer true because Congress robbed that piggy bank for other expenditures.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  16. Stephen Herzog

    I don't agree that Social Security Retirement Benefits, or Medicare Benefits, programs to which individuals contribute their entire working life, are rightfully classified as social welfare benefits. They are more akin to insurance benefits based upon years of contribution. UI is also an insurance benefit, with premiums paid by employers for their workers. Again, not social welfare. However, Supplemental Security Income Benefits and Medicaid are means based programs that are true entitlements and rightfully classified as social welfare. However, none of these programs are, or should be considered "wages" or "salary". The SSA insurance trust funds are in trouble because the government has raided the surplus for years and spent the money on other things. Now the government must pay back the IOUs, and people call it welfare.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  17. Peg in NY

    It means that too many Americans are in dire need of real employment. The rich keep getting richer while the rest of us see our futures keep shrinking, no matter how hard we tighten our belts. No matter how many jobs we work. No matter what we do, we are becoming invisible, Uncle sam is broke and it is still very scarey out there. Good heavens, I hope someone genuinely pays attention to this in the 2012 election. Whoever supplies us with real work and a healing economy will win.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  18. Wendy In Los Angeles

    It means that the huge shift in wealth to the top 5% has made it increasingly difficult for the rest of us to make a decent living.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  19. Wayne in Texas

    Its high time goverment stops thinking like we're in the 1950's and start thinking like we're in the 2010's. Changes need to be made to the social security system, not just whether or not a person reaches the target age but real health factors in determining whether or not someone deserves these benefits. There are plenty of low labor, low wage jobs that are to be had and its time we get these people back to being hired.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  20. James E Paisley

    What it means is that we will face an economic disaster much more all encompassing than what we've been through the last two years. The difference is that the general public did not realize what was going on in the banking and real estate industries during the development of our FIRST economic implosion and, therefore, could not raise hell about it before it all reached a point of no return. THIS time everybody sees it coming and we are raising hell about it and the career politicians are sitting on their butts protecting their government pensions by doing everything they can to get re-elected by not making the hard decisions required to turn this mess around. People will feel pain but it is necessary if we are to prevent economic collapse.

    James Paisley
    Kal;ispell, Montana

    March 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  21. Trevor

    I don't understand why entitlements are so untouchable. When there are numbers like these, it's amazing to me that nobody is willing to risk their political lives to do something about it. What am I missing?

    March 9, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  22. Don W

    Here's the part of the report I don't understand. How can Medicare payments be considered "wages"? These are reimbursements for medical procedures – not wages. Are we going to begin to count private pay insurance reimbursements as "wages" for working people? If these payments were subtracted from the equation I wonder what the percentages would be?

    March 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  23. Ed

    That is all money that was, essentially, set aside for a rainy day–unemployment, disability, retirement, etc. It's all money we've paid into, and money we all have a right to. Now that the rainy days are here, it's inappropriate to throw our hands up in the air and go "heavens, who knew it would rain?!"

    Stop overpaying for our security. Stop giving money to companies and industries that don't need it. Make those who control most of the wealth give back more, rather than squeeze more out of the rest of us.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  24. Mike Beemer

    It simply means that wether its foreign or domestic, we're giving away the farm. And the farms is almost gone.

    Belton, TX

    March 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  25. The City On a Shining Hill

    Well, America joins the world community, and the nations such as Greece, Cuba, Spain and Ireland, where everyone is on the public payroll.

    Nothing wrong with that, of course!

    "The problem with socialism, though well intended and appealing, especially to women, is that it always brings unintended poverty to nations unwise to implement this very failed economic model, due to running out of the tax dollars that fund it"-

    Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

    Government. Well, it does take care of its grateful citizens very well, from cradle to grave!

    March 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  26. ck

    Social Security should not be included in this article or considered an entitlement most tax payers drawing on it have already paid into it and are just collecting what they put in. Its becoming problematic that old folks are drawing on their SS benefits only because the government has used up the money paying for wars and entitlement programs for the poor.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  27. David - Cleveland, OH

    It is not the Federal governments charge nor responsibility to make the US a welfare state. Our founding fathers never envisioned such a thing. All we are doing is building a culture of non-responsibility. Nearly every civilization that has fallen, if not all of them, was because of this very issue. We become and stay great by taking responsibility and taking advantage of opportunity. We all have to take full responsibility for our actions and choices. Take away the welfare, and over the next twenty years, this country will be squarely back on course. If we do not, this country is doomed to mediocrity if it still exists.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  28. Paul

    It means that the U.S. economy has become a self-licking ice cream cone. We are not producing, many service companies are repackaging derivatives of another's product, and we are taxing what we give as entitlements. Hello death spiral!

    Springfield, VA

    March 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  29. Todd

    To the wealthiest 20% of Americans, not a whole lot. They may take a small dent in their retirement income if Social Security goes, but they will have insurance to make up any lackings in Medicare.

    For the remainder, it means that there will be poverty, the likes of which have not been seen since the Depression, once some of those programs go broke.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  30. John, Lake Charles, LA

    Jack, I paid into these programs for my entire working career. It's true that what I paid in went to people that retired before me. Now that I am retired, people still working are paying for my benefits. That's the way the system is suppossed to work. If the Federal government didn't steal our Social Security trust fund to spend on god knows what, Social Security would still be self-sufficient. It the Federal government spent more time and effort on Medicare, Medicaid and Unemployment Insurance fraud and corruption those programs would have been ok also. Don't blame the working people for these problems, blame the people who are suppossed to be representing us.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  31. Jarrod Rager, Greeley CO

    I don't know of many people who would vote to get less money in their pocket. Social welfare benefits create voting blocks with public money, almost in the same way defense spending does – not only are both of these situations unsustainable they are, at their core, anti-democratic.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  32. Rich Whitey

    I don't think Social Security and Medicare should honestly be lumped in as social welfare programs like unemployment and Medicaid.

    Yes, they are "technically" social welfare programs. However, lumping them in with the other programs attempts to stigmatize them as undeserved or abused.

    I am fully in favor of changes in Social Security and Medicare benefits, but let's not approach it from this negative point of view.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  33. Gabe Kaniger

    I can solve this problem really easily Jack ; just deport all the illegals and 75% of this problem will be solved!!!

    March 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  34. Roy-In-Oregon

    I don't appreciate the suggestion that social security and medicare are social "welfare" programs.

    You can try to reposition those programs as "hand outs," but the American public is smart enough to understand that after dutifully paying in to these system decade after decade, they are "entitled" to receive benefits back from them in their retirement years - and without feeling like beggars in the process.

    Don't try to tarnish that social contract with the American worker by suggesting that they are receiving hand-outs or are on the receiving end of a "welfare" program.

    The mounting challenges surrounding the funding of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid represent a revenue problem that can easily - and equitably - be resolved simply by removing the annual earnings cap on social security payments.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  35. Brian

    It means people will take you give them! Standard human nature / psych 101- it is good to be compassionate, bad to enable slothfulness. Tough love is not a difficult concept to understand. What is difficult is wading through the knee high BS created by (some) well meaning leaders- there are so many distortions caused by all our efforts to make things "better", and we aren't happier, healthier or safer. Back to basics I say, work & save or die.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  36. Chris

    People want the hand out because it isn't socially frowned up like it used to be in the 60's. While I believe welfare should exist it needs to be overhauled and lazy people should not be allowed to enjoy its benefits. Also, a drug test should be required in order to receive said benefits. The problem.....nothing will happen about it. Our system is flawed in so many ways by corruption that nothing will ever change. people blame Obama but I can't wait until 2012 when a repub wins (because the public will vote with a knee jerk reaction) and they are unable to change anything either. All we do is change momentum every 4 to 8 years and nothing every actually gets done.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  37. Brad Brook

    I am addressing Social Security alone: After working and contributing to SS for more than 45 years I feel that I have earned the small stipend paid to me each month. A lot of this goes to ever increasing medical costs, especially those costs that "strangely" Medicare HMO's find a way out of paying.

    Additionally, I feel that each and everyone receiving Social Security should have ~contributed to and earned it~. Those who have been placed on SS otherwise should be removed.

    This might go a long way towards positive readjustment of the "ratio"and mitigate the drain of SS funds.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  38. Maryann - Orlando FL

    I am confused that Social Security and Medicare are called 'entitlements'. I pay into this with every paycheck! Am I not 'entitled' to get that money when I retire? If they do away with 'entitlements', do I get to keep my FICA?

    March 9, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  39. American

    Trim Tabs says there is only two options? Raise wages or cut welfare and those are the only two? What a load..... They can bring back tariffs and return many of the jobs that were sent away. Bring back the middle class jobs that politicians allowed to go away to other countries.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  40. sowgoodseeds

    When people hear "cut welfare programs," they are either excited about the news, or very very alarmed. I wish politicians would use terms like, "manage welfare programs," or "trim welfare programs." And omit those who need it most like the disabled or severely mentally ill, and veterans from the chopping block. To hear an article advocating to "cut social aid" brings to mind an END to those programs, thus all the controversy. If social aid must be cut, look at lowering the qualifying income status for approval for those programs. Require a certain amount of "job searching" for chronic welfare recipients. And quit picking on the developmentally disabled and mentally ill – It is much cheaper to "manage" their services than to manage the fall-out from lack of services. We can do this intelligently!

    March 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  41. deedee u

    It means we are not paying our workers enough to survive. Cost of living is way up and the our wages aren't keeping up. However, Republicans rather look out for the corporations and the rich. Too bad for our children, sick and elderly.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  42. Chris C

    Social Security is not the government giving anyone free or unearned money. It's the government paying back the free loan that they have been getting for about 40 years. So how can you include it in the category of government social welfare programs. Unemployment is at an all time high, but once this recession is finished winding down, it will go back to a more normal number. Fewer people will be getting unemployment for shorter periods of time.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  43. John Epperly

    It means the bridge is out in front of the gravy train, but we don't have sense enough to apply the air brakes. Eventually, this will take care of itself through an economic catastrophe brought on by insolvency. It will be the ulimate in Union and entitlement busting and it's coming soon. Thanks for the hope, change and utter lack of leadership Mr. Obama.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  44. Jack

    Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are NOT "handouts." Each of those .benefits was paid for by the majority of their recipients through income which was REQUIRED TO BE withheld from their salaries or wages.

    It is not the fault of taxpayers that our elected representatives have seen fit to raid those funds for other things.

    Further, to reduce the EARNED benefits of those who have paid into these funds at this point is dishonest, and unconscionable.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  45. Reggie

    I'm not economist, but wouldn't that mean our unemployment, sales numbers, etc are not true numbers? The government is giving money to people to line the pockets of business, who then in turn do eveything they can not to pay taxes on it.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  46. Ruth

    Social Security and Medicare are not entitlement programs. We pay into them in order to get them. The government has been robbing them for years and now cries that there is no money.

    Welfare is highly abused in the US. The system needs to be changed to encourage people to get off welfare rather than stay on it. The way the system is today people won't work part time even if they can because they lose their benefits. We should have a sliding scale that encourages people to work as much as they can and lower their benefits, but not take them away until they are earning enough to live on.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  47. Jan Payne

    It means wages have been stagnant for a long time – the only reason the working and middle class haven't pushed back is because we can buy cheaper imports which soothes us into thinking we still have rising purchasing power.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  48. Susan

    Comparing the unemployment expenditure of 1960 to 2011 is ridiculous and very, very slanted reporting. The unemployment rate in 1960 was 5.5%, a far cry from today's rate.

    Contrary to what you appear to be insinuating, the overwhelming majority of the unemployed would rather have a paycheck than an unemployment check. Many who have run out of benefits have neither.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  49. Drew Washington DC


    1/3 go to hand out programs, 1/3 goes overseas, and the last 1/3? It has become the norm in this country to sit back and collect, and with real unemployment lingering around 11%, why not? The government can pay my cable, heating, and electric bills? Sign me up... NOT! Get a job...

    March 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  50. vbscript2

    It means that I'm never going to see a dime of what I'm paying into SS. That's what it means.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  51. Ken in NC

    As long as politicians are scared of having their heads handed to them on a platter it means absolutly nothing. Politicians have their own agenda, jobs, their own.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  52. Linda Lou

    It means capitalism doesn't work except for the capitalist . . .

    March 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  53. Dan

    The government has grown too large and we as a people have lost the self-reliance that once made us the greatest nation on earth.

    Dan in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

    March 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  54. Pat in Madison, WI

    Well Jack:
    First of all....Social Security is not welfare. We pay for the privilege.
    Second of all, with all the 20-65 year olds making barely enough money to pay the rent, the kids have to rely on handouts for food. Get salaries back to where they need to be for someone to afford to live in the US and you problem will be solved.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  55. Kalani

    I equate this to school:

    In a class of 100, 10 people get A's, 25 get B's, 25 get C's, and 25 get D's. Well, because the lowest 25 aren't as smart, study as hard, don't have the same study habits, etc. the top 10% must give two letter grades to the lowest students.

    Would anyone in their right mind agree to this in school? It doesn't make sense? Then how do we do justify it with our government?

    Please don't argue that grades in school don't matter, because they lead to better jobs and, potentially, how well you can live your life (or poorly). Some employers even require a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  56. Tom Jackson

    The proverbial elephant in the room. Nobody wants to look it in the eye for fear that it will destroy their careers – This is what is passing for leadership in our country these days. All sacred cows must die. This isn't the time for squemishness. You either wrestle this monster to the ground or get crushed by the weight of debt accumulated by the very same baby boomers who accelerated and helped build the monstrosity called entitlements. And entitlements don't equal rights! There are those people who will always argue from the heart strings about this or that program that will be cut or whom it will affect, but the truth is, its affecting us all right now and will become a tidal wave of debt. It only take once for creditors to our nation to refuse us for this collpase to begin and we are perilously close to that right now. If people believe that what is happening in the middle east can't happen here they are sadly mistaken.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  57. sonny chapman

    "Entitlement" sounds like someone is giving you something for nothing. Most people have had FICA cut out of their pay checks since they were 18. They are finally getting some of their own $ back after 50 years of work. Try taking a Fat Cat's $ & hold it for 50 years. You'll lose a few fingers.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  58. James Virga

    Personally, I'm getting tired of SS & Medicare being called social welfare.These are not welfare programs, people have paid into this so they could have some monetary help with retirement and any medical expenses. Anyday the gov wants to refund the money I paid into the system with interest, they can mail me the check.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  59. Charles Boyle

    It's painful to hear my social security benefit categorized as a social welfare program after paying into that fund for 56 years. I have met my obligation to pay taxes under the law and I should be able to receive the promised benfits without being demonized for that, particularly since the money I paid into the fund has been used for purposes other than social security. If we don't keep our promises to each other we won't have a "more perfect union" to keep us together as a country anymore.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  60. LD

    Final comment.......2 weeks ago I read that Private Defense contractors had defrauded the GOVT for around $200 billion greenbacks for the years 2007-2009. Where's Villager anger or reporting on that? It took the only socialist senator to slip that language on last year's spending bill for Americans to find out. I'm still waiting for the prosecutions and the recovery of all that money...with interest.... just like the IRS does.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  61. Dave Stok

    Social Security is not a welfare program! Over the past 44 years, I payed part of my earnings into this program. Now when I get some of it back (actually less in inflation adjusted dollars than I put in), it will be my earnings coming back to me – not welfare. Lumping Social Security in with all the other 'free lunch' programs is an insult to all working Americans.

    Dave Stok, retired person
    San Antonio, Texas

    March 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  62. Robert/'South Dakota

    The eligibility for Social Security and Medicare needs to be the age of 70 starting in 2012 to salvage whats left of this country. The welfare checks need to stop and people need to work if even at Fast Food or retail. Our country was built on hard work and ethics not living beyond our means and accepting handouts.
    The middle class will no longer be in a few years it will be back to the Upper and lower class.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  63. w k

    I think it is very scary when you have 1/3 of population needing help or handout in a time that U.S. Corporations are raking in record profits and the finance industry is handing out millions in bonuses. I guess we will just blame the union workers and there retirees. I have a hard time believing that unions that are only 10% of the population are the cause of all the budget problems in this country. It couldn't possibly be the tax breaks and tax evasion by U.S. Corporations or there politician cronies.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  64. Bob

    Welfare is the only handout.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  65. John in western North Carolina


    That's a very complex question to which you're about to get some very simple unworkable answers. In my opinion, the first question that needs to be asked is who we are as a people, and then what level of caring are we willing to pay for to help our fellow citizens in their time of need.

    We need to remember that most of the money going into these programs feed our economy and just might be a better return on our investment than the monies given to the large financial firms at the end of the Bush administration.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  66. david bidlack

    dave bidlack michigan jack here is the reason these progarams are as big as they are. when your unemployment runs out you end up on welfare. so your choice is to let people go hungry or raise wages 35%! supply side uncontroled economics has allow peoples jobs to leave the country for cheaper wages which amounts to people with lower living standards .trickle down economics has held american average wages in place for over 25 years. until the promoters of this failed economics experiment excepts the fact that non of these ideas have mad 98% of americans lives better we are in for even bigger problems in the future. i am a former small business owner who lost his business to republicans who in reality only help wall street and big businesses not .

    March 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  67. Robert W. North Carolina

    This reminds me of a story I heard once where a couple fed a duck that landed in thier swimming pool. The next year the duck came back with a few friends. The next year the whole flock came. They loved animals so instead of turning all of them into dinner and pillows they had to stop feeding them. The ducks found a new place to eat. I think people that are able to earn should get with it. But those who cannot should be helped. As far as the aging people; WHAT HAPPEN TO ALL THE MONEY I HAVE BEEN PUTTING INTO THE SYSTEM ALL THESE YEARS? Don't act like those guys are freeloaders.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  68. Randy in St. Louis

    I fought for this country when it was very, VERY unfashionable. Viet Nam vets didn't get the kudos that todays veterans do. Don't get me wrong, they deserve it, but I wonder if veterans benefits will eventually find their way to the chopping block?

    March 9, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  69. Wally

    Most people do not understand the mathematical theory of finance. They believe that since I paid into it it my entire working like that I should receive benefits until I die. Benefits mean to live in the manner that I have become accustomed. The better question is what will I give up to restore the financially sanity in the US. I would give up 10 to 20% of my current income if you can convince me that the Congress will not just blow it on some other program that is just as bad as the programs we have now. SS has been miss managed since it started so do not use that as an example.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  70. Chuck Wright, Georgia

    The cost of programs by the Governent is a result of the lack of equity of wages in the US. Corporate America, in league with the high steppers in Congress pay low and tax high. Sounds a little like Egypt. The revolt by these workers and non-workers will break through the the upper class ignorance and will be comming soon to a town near you. We will have trained them in all of the wars the US sends them to keep the Military Inudstrial complex going.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  71. JOhn

    Since when are Medicaid and Medicare lumped under the category of wages and salaries? The reason why we've seen such a jump in these programs is because a lot of people have lost their jobs and now qualify for Medicaid. We're shocked by this number because we're not comfortable in this country with a safety net. That is until we actually need it.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  72. Bill in South TX


    Are we talking the total dollar value or the number of individuals getting a check of some sort.

    In calculating averages if you have 99 at 10 dollars each and one (banker for example) and 1 check for 101 million dollars the average will be one million dollars per person.

    Figures never lie but lairs often figure.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  73. Jeff Werrell, Phoenix, AZ.

    I have to agree with most of the comments given so far, that Social Security and Medicare are not welfare. We reformed and shut down the welfare system with Clinton. People on SS and MC are those that ar either old/retired and earned it through their payments, or folks that have disabilities that keep them from being able to support themselves. We are a nation that takes care of these classes of people, that's what makes us the great nation we are. Also, if growth through jobs and spending keeps up, then we do not have a problem. I think the elephant in the room is that we do not tax corporate america and theupper class enough. We give too many loopholes and low tax revenue is killing us. What should we do, have them homeless and dying in the streets? They paid taxes and FDIC every paycheck. Shameless talk. If we are not going to tax fairly, then how about ending our wars and pet humanitarian payoffs in foreign nations.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  74. Believer Right Is Right

    Jack you and thousands who wants to cut Social sercuity is not thinking right. Millions of people like myself have paid our share of S.S 40 or 50 years ago don't you think we derserve a postion of the money we paid for years,

    March 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  75. bob

    this is a slap in the face to tell me in a welfair person i work all my life and paid into this with out choice i was told this is your retire ment benifits sent info on ittold to keep track of it make sure its correct then when i retire on what i paid for my whole working life have somebody slap me in the face like this is insulting

    March 9, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  76. Telluride Greg

    My wife and I are in our mid-forties and we are self-employed. We pay a lot in taxes and don't take any type of government assistance, and at the rate we are going, there will be nothing left for us when we reach retirement age. At some point we are all going to have to have an adult conversation about the level of government assistance we provide and who we provide it to. I know a lot of very wealthy people who still receive SS benefits. And of course there is a lot of abuse of the system that really twekes us hard working taxpayers. It is undeniable that a significant portion of our population milks our system when they could be contributing to our society.

    And I agree with those of you taking SS benefits right now–you have earned it and paid into it. Imagine if you were in our shoes–paying into it for decades with nothing close to a guarantee that it will be available to us when we need it.

    The "American Dream" as I learned it and try to live it, is that we all get a chance, an opportunity to be successful. Its not that everyone should do there best and we all share in the wealth. That's not the American Dream my Dad told me about.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  77. Barking Alien

    SS & Medicare are not social welfare since we have paid into this system so it would be available in retirement. We need to look at creating a sustainable economy and jobs. We don't have enough people paying into the system and the jobs we are creating are low paying. We have shot oursleves in the foot by outsourcing the middle class and jobs to third world. GOP is calling for cutting all entitlements and they were primarily responsible for outsourcing jobs and middle class.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  78. wk

    I think it is very scary that 1/3 of the population needs help or a handout while U.S. Corporations are raking in record profits and the finance industry are handing out millions in bonuses. I guess we can blame the union workers and there retirees. I find it hard to believe that unions are only 10% of the population but cause all of the budget problems in this country.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  79. MAF

    SS is NOT a handout. Not even close. It is a social contract between the government: before retiring I payed into it over my entire working career. Same for Medicare. Why is that a handout? To call it such is ludicrous. What about state worker pensions? What are they? California spends more on those then it does on education: any many retire at 55. The state also spends billions on educating the kids of illegal immigrants. What is that? Or the free education to immigrant kids whose parents pay little or no taxes because they are too poor? What is that? Oh and BTW what about the billions we spent bailing out Wall Street after they took the US economy down and are now handing out huge bonuses agin. Yes much of that was paid back (I think) but what was that?

    March 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  80. Aaron Swisher

    SS is not a retirement fund, or social welfare – it is social insurance. The fact that so many are relying on it is a sign of how lopsided income disparity has become in this country. We need a certain amount of income disparity, but our current level is threatening the economy, the budget, our social values, and our entire way of life.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  81. Steve Sonora

    Let's start by doing something that has no cost. Let each Social Security statement itemize the part of the payment that is "earned" from the individuals contributions, the reasonable earnings those contributions could have returned on investments, and separately the additional part that is paid for solely by current taxes on others. This would at least begin the education of the vast majority for whom social security is mostly a government handout.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  82. Eve FitzGerald

    Mr. Cafferty, I resent you calling Social Security a welfare program. I paid into Social Security all my working life.(50) years, fully expecting those funds, with interest, to be when I retired. I also pay a fee every month for my Medicare insurance.
    Perhaps we should prosecute congress for miss appropriation of funds. Was it not congress that approved borrowing from Social Security and spending those funds?

    March 9, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  83. Dave

    What people do not understand is that Roosevelt designed the Social Security System to be a saftey net not a retirement program! My father who is a very conservative republican (which I am not) and who has retired when he was 63 and is now 81 has collected every penny he ever paid and his employers paid within the first five years of his retirement plus interest. Above that example I believe there are more people collecting from the three programs claiming they are diabled then all the retirees combined. This must stop since we cannot afford it and we will end up like the other European countries that followed that path. Take heed of what is going on in the middle east. It will take that kind of action by the people to really make a change in how we do things in this country! If I was one of the founding fathers of this great country I would be sick! This is not what they invisioned.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  84. Philip Collins

    Your question raises another: How many more people are out there, who, like me, Closed a 20 year old business over a year ago, live on savings while enjoying life, no longer work, do not owe or pay anymore earned income taxes, just waiting for my Social Security entitlement (that I contributed to for 50 years) to kick in. Because of Government intrusion into Everything, the incentive to work, earn, be productive is gone. Because of government handouts to the non-working, most-not-really-deserving who get free money from the government, my protest is to no longer contribute to the insanity. The answer to your question is-The economy will collapse because the productive people just quit.
    Philip Oak Ridge, TN

    March 9, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  85. Meg from Troy, Ohio

    I'm for getting out of Afghanistan and Iraq, getting our troops out Europe, Asia and anywhere else in the world where they're not needed. Bring them home and put them to work on the borders and updating our infrastructure. Let's take a look at where we are financially as a country after we do that.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:50 pm |