Entitlement Cornucopia

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In an era when Republicans are missing in action when it comes to fighting big government, the Democrats are not wasting any time. Over at the Wall Street Journal, Hoover Institution scholars John Cogan and Daniel Heil have a piece that documents the entitlement expansions of the Biden Families Plan. Here is a tidbit:

The American Families Plan proposes several new entitlement programs. One promises students the government will pick up the entire cost of community-college tuition; another promises families earning 1.5 times their state’s median income that Washington will cover all daycare expenses above 7% of family income for children under 5; still another promises workers up to 12 weeks of federally financed wage subsidies to take time off to care for newborns or sick family members….

In March, Congress enacted the American Rescue Plan, which expanded Affordable Care Act subsidies and refundable tax credits for child care and low-wage workers. … Mr. Biden asked Congress to make them permanent.

These programs extend eligibility for benefits high up the income ladder. Two-parent households with two preschool-age children and incomes up to $130,000 would qualify for federal cash assistance for daycare. Single parents with two preschoolers and incomes up to $113,000 would qualify. And some families with incomes over $200,000 would be eligible for health-insurance subsidies. Other parts of the plan, such as paid leave and free community college, have no income limits at all.

Our analysis shows that the American Families Plan would add 21 million Americans to the list of federal entitlement beneficiaries. With these additional recipients, 57% of all married-couple children would receive federal entitlement benefits, and more than 80% of single-parent households would be on the entitlement rolls.

The whole thing deserves to be quoted, but you can read it here. And here is their actual paper. It is worth reminding people of Cogan’s wonderful book, The High Cost of Good Intentions, and here is an interview about the issue over at The Great Antidote podcast (full disclosure: The host, Juliette Sellgren, is my daughter).

Haven’t we learned anything from the past? If Republicans don’t wake up soon — and many of them even continue to support some of these provisions and argue that the lack of federal involvement and money is the source of our current problems — they will effectively be enabling an era of enormous government. This WSJ editorial puts it well:

They may get away with this because they have the press in their pocket, and because most Republicans these days are preoccupied with the culture war. Only a decade ago the Tea Party fought ObamaCare. Now most Beltway conservatives worry more about Big Tech than they do Big Government. If the Biden Families Plan passes, these conservatives will find themselves spending the rest of their careers as tax collectors for the entitlement state.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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