Bradley C Bower/AP
Social Ssecurity checks waiting to be mailed, February 2005.
Social Ssecurity checks waiting to be mailed, February 2005. Bradley C Bower/AP
Here's an indication of how widespread the support for federal spending is, especially for the sort that winds up providing income support or health-care for Americans.
USA Today reports that 18.3 percent of the nation's total 2010 personal income was from the federal government in the form of Social Security, Medicare or other social safety net programs. For years until 2000, the story says, the percentage bumped along at about 12.5 percent.
Partly due to job losses caused by the Great Recession, wages made up the lowest share of income since the government started keeping records in 1929, according to USA Today. The aging of the U.S. population was among several factors driving up the percentage of Americans who depend completely or in part on federal help.
"What's frightening is the Baby Boomers haven't really started to retire," says University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes of the 77 million people born from 1946 through 1964 whose oldest wave turns 65 this year. "That's when the cost of Medicare will start to explode."
This increased dependence suggests how hard it could be politically for federal policymakers to reduce federal spending though some of those outlays will decrease as the economy creates more jobs and the need for unemployment benefits and food stamps declines.