CRF Blog

Everyone’s a Queen

by Bill Hayes

In Everyone’s a Queen for the New Republic, Timothy Noah argues that Republicans are expanding the definition of welfare.

 Republicans know that Medicare, Social Security, and defense are where the big spending cuts will have to be. They account, after all, for more than half the federal budget. To the extent that rendering Medicare and Social Security solvent will require benefit cuts, the best and fairest methods are income-contingent — raising premiums for higher-income Medicare recipients (as President Obama proposes) and lowering benefits for higher-income Social Security recipients. Both approaches enjoy strong support from congressional Republicans, and bully to them for favoring them. House and Senate Democrats ought to be bolder in supporting them, too. Part of the reason they hesitate is sheer political cowardice. But Democrats also worry that the more efficiently Medicare and Social Security target those who most need them, the more politically vulnerable these programs will become. With the GOP jamming every means-tested program under the “welfare” rubric to decry a trumped-up epidemic of dependency, this isn’t an abstract fear. Democrats would be fools not to suspect that, for Republicans, reform is a prelude to elimination (or at least drastic reduction). [more]