Define ‘Welfare State,’ Please
Even those who denounce our “unsustainable welfare state” don’t agree on what it is or how its spending should be measured.
Brandishing the phrase in his recent call for a structural revolution, David Brooks of The New York Times didn’t get specific.
The Heritage Foundation sometimes offers a narrow definition of the “unsustainable welfare state,” based on means-tested programs – benefits directed to those with income below a poverty threshold, like Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, food stamps and Medicaid.
Like many conservative Republicans, however, the Heritage Foundation often includes bigger entitlement programs that are not means-tested, like Social Security and Medicare, within its unsustainable category.
The ball seems to get bigger as it rolls downhill. Some critics consider the entire government payroll part of the unsustainable welfare state. Others usegovernment spending as a share of gross domestic product as a warning sign. By these measures, military expenditures also count.