The problem of dependency: Maybe Romney was right

Mitt Romney's recent remarks about the growth of dependency set off a short-lived media storm, but in most polls, Romney's support barely moved and a week later, most polls showed little real change from the week of the DNC in Charlotte.

Perhaps it's because that many actually agreed with his basic premise that too many people are indeed dependent upon government assistance?

That seems to be what the findings of a poll released by Rasmussen Polling would suggest:

Americans strongly believe that there is too much government dependency in the country today. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 64% of Adults think there are too many Americans dependent on the government for financial aid. Just 10% think not enough Americans are dependent on the government, while 16% say the level of dependency is about right.

These concerns by Romney and poll respondents are being voiced during a time of unprecedented growth of social programs and their cost to taxpayers, as well as a continued inability of the federal government to rein in spending and balance its budget.

According to a report from the Heritage Foundation, social programs are swallowing increasingly-large shares of the federal budget. The share of the federal government's budget devoted to entitlement and anti-poverty programs nearly tripled over the last five decades, taking 16% of the federal budget in 1962 and expected to account for roughly half the federal budget by the year 2020. In the same time period, debt financing will have tripled as a share of the federal budget, taking a bigger share than social programs did in 1962.

For both conservatives concerned about paying down the debt, providing tax relief or providing for national security, as well as moderate politicos who want to increase funding education and research programs, these growth trends should be concerning.

The federal General Accounting Office warned of a coming fiscal crash in a recent report

A continuing increase in debt as a share of GDP means the federal government is on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path and underscores the need for policymakers to act to change the path.

With an annual budget reaching four trillion dollars and nearly a quarter of money coming from borrowing, it's hard to see how the budget can be brought under control without touching the nearly half of the budget that goes into social programs in a major way. Also, as roughly half of the three trillion in revenue comes from individual income taxes, even the proposals for modest income tax hikes on upper-class taxpayers which are being floated by the Obama administration won't be enough to fill the growing debt sinkhole.

Thus Romney may have had a point - and more people may get it than some pundits want to admit.

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