"With the Senate effort to upend Obamacare suspended for the Fourth of July holiday, there’s a chance to step back and examine the assumptions behind Republicans’ longstanding objections to the social safety net — as well as the flaws in those assumptions.
From Ronald Reagan’s invocation of a ‘welfare queen,’ to Mitt Romney’s derision of ‘takers,’ to the House and Senate bills to cut taxes for the rich by taking health insurance away from tens of millions of people, the premise of incessant Republican tax cutting is that the system robs the rich to lavish benefits on the poor.
But here is an essential and overlooked truth: As a share of the economy, federal spending on low-income people, other than for their health care, has been falling steadily since it peaked in 2011, after the Great Recession, and while it’s still slightly above the long-term average, it is declining, according to a recent series of reports by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Mandatory non-health programs like food stamps, earned-income tax credits and Supplemental Security Income for impoverished elderly and disabled people currently equal 1.5 percent of the gross domestic product, only modestly above the 40-year average of 1.3 percent. Moreover, if spending on those programs continues its current downward trend, it will fall below the long-run average by 2024."