Romney’s Comments Prompt Examination of Entitlement Benefits
Comments made by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney about how many U.S. residents pay taxes and receive federal benefits, including Medicare and Medicaid, have caused many to examine data on the issue, the Wall Street Journal reports (Paletta/McKinnon, Wall Street Journal, 9/18).
Romney on Monday drew significant criticism after a video emerged in which he said earlier this year that nearly half of all U.S. residents are "victims" who feel "entitled to health care" and other government programs, and that those individuals likely will support President Obama in the upcoming election (California Healthline, 9/18).
The statistics to which Romney referred -- that 47% of U.S. residents do not pay income taxes -- "appears to come" from research by the Tax Policy Center, according to The Hill's "On The Money" (Schroeder, "On The Money," The Hill, 9/18).
In TPC's most recent report on the matter, it found that about 46% of U.S. residents do not pay federal income taxes (Wall Street Journal, 9/18). TPC's 2009 report found that 47% did not pay federal income taxes ("On The Money," The Hill, 9/18). In addition, TPC found that in 2011, 49% of U.S. residents lived in a household with at least one person who receives federal benefits.
Census data indicate that in 2011, 26.4% of U.S. residents lived in a household in which at least one member received Medicaid benefits (Wall Street Journal, 9/18). Meanwhile, about 29% of households received Medicare benefits, according to the Washington Post's "Wonkblog."
Further, an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that about 75% of entitlement benefits -- including Medicare -- are distributed to U.S. residents who are elderly or disabled. Meanwhile, the analysis found that only about 9% of all entitlement benefits are distributed to non-elderly, non-disabled households without jobs. Further, the majority of entitlement program spending goes toward the middle class (Plumer, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 9/18).
In his comments, Romney also said that U.S. residents who receive federal benefits would not support him in the upcoming election. However, polls indicate that many of the U.S. residents who receive Medicare benefits support Romney. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 14.9% of Medicare beneficiaries support Romney (Wall Street Journal, 9/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.