Our Entitlement Nation

by Gerri Willis

Outrage today on the left about remarks Mitt Romney made four months ago about our entitlement nation. But to be clear on the facts, Mitt is right.      


An astonishing 46.4% of Americans paid no Federal Income Tax in 2011, leaving the rest of us to pick up the ever growing tab for Federal programs.


And this is a new phenomena.


Twelve years ago, 34% of Americans paid no income taxes, and back in 1970, it was just 12%.


If you need further convincing that a larger and larger proportion of Americans want Uncle Sam to support them, look no further than today's report from a Senate committee investigating Social Security disability payments. 


The committee randomly pulled 300 case files and found fully a quarter of them were awarded improperly without the most basic information to back the claim made available to the government.


The cost of the fraud? Millions in taxpayer dollars for a program that is already teetering on bankruptcy. One judge alone, Howard O'Bryan in Oklahoma City approved roughly 90% of the more than 5,400 cases that he saw between 2007 and 2009. He alone awarded more than $1.6 billion in benefits.


Amazing. 


Buried in the Senate report is the kind of slipshod work allowing these taxpayer dollars to slip through governments hands. For example, the Virginia applicant who claimed lower back pain as the reason he should receive disability. Guess what. He got it even though a Physical Therapist testing him found he didn't exhibit the symptoms of a person with chronic lower back pain. The case was ultimately decided on the basis he liked taking the occasional hour-or so long nap and that prevented his working an eight-hour day.


Unbelievable.


Then there's the case of the Oklahoma applicant who claimed he had chronic knee pain, shoulder pain, coronary artery disease and obesity. During a brief hearing, he was asked no medical questions and the attorney on the case told the judge several times he was unsure there was medical evidence to qualify for a disability. The applicant was awarded benefits anyway. 


The report also found the disability program is growing like topsy. Since January 2009, its added 5.9 million Americans for a total of 10.6 million receiving disability insurance payments.


The point isn't that nobody should be getting disability payments- no. The point is the system is broken and going broke. According to the report, it will be out of money by 2016. Precious little time to make the fixes needed.


Look, the left wants you to believe Republicans bring this up because they are just mean people. The truth is harder to swallow. Americans are turning more and more to government programs to sustain them and their families.


But that's not a sustainable trend for the country. Why? The answer is easy. We can't afford it.