Well then, it’s a pity he didn’t do it

According to Lee Edwards of the Heritage Foundation:

On the two epic events of the last 50 years ? the waging of the Cold War and the growth of the welfare state ? Ronald Reagan was indisputably correct. Communism was evil and had to be defeated, not merely contained. And the welfare state had grown dangerously large and had to be rolled back, not simply managed efficiently. [Emphasis added]

According to Robert Rector of… The Heritage Foundation:

There are repeated claims that Ronald Reagan “slashed” welfare spending. But in reality, Rector claims, welfare spending grew during the 1980s, after adjusting for inflation. In 1993, per capita welfare spending in constant dollars was 43 percent higher than when President Reagan took office in 1980. [Emphasis added]


Comments: 9


How much higher was per capita welfare spending in constant dollars in 1989, when Reagan left office?


Ronald Reagan: Flip-flopper!!!!


Jim Edmunds,

Are you suggesting that George H. W. Bush might have been responsible for at least a 44% increase in per capita welfare spending in constant dollars?

Not saying you’re wrong, but it’s certainly counterintuitive…


“Welfare spending” (Food Stamps, AFDC, TANF, EITC, etc.) is actually just a small part of the “Welfare State”, which would include social security, medicare, medicaid, etc. Let’s find better examples to hammer the righties on.


Not if you include medicare and medicaid spending as “welfare” programs. A 44% increase in 8 years is no problem-double digit growth annually, baby!


The simplest answer to this contradiction is that Reagan’s policies caused more people to go on welfare. If welfare benefits per recipient were slashed, but the number of recipients went up dramatically, then obviously, welfare per capita would have increased.

I suspect that this is the case, as “trickle down economics” has not only wreaked havoc on the federal debt, but also on our society as a whole. Somebody someday is going to do a massive study on the true costs of the Reagan and George W. Bush tax cuts, and they’re gonna find that, contrary to the claim that investment-side tax cuts have a positive exponential effect on the economy (as they “trickle down” through the economic strata), but that they had a negative exponential effect (as the resulting cutbacks in infrastructure and/or interest incurred on debt “trickle up”).

On a perhaps related note, the cost per capita of prison spending has gone way up. This is what happens when you pass tax cuts and don’t invest in infrastructure.


Ken Houghton:

No. I wouldn’t be surprised if it grew 44% under Reagan or whatever. But I am curious to know by how much it rose.

It just strikes me as stupid to use a statistic from 4 years after the guy left office.

To my mind, it’s irrelevant anyway. I’m not a Reagan fan, but we had divided government in the 80’s, and I don’t believe Reagan deserves all of the credit or all of the blame for whatever the results may be. I’d just like to pretend to have an accurate notion of what those results look like.


It went up to the near orbit levels. And it had no cap on it. He talked about “welfare queens” then turned and did just that.

Dems in Congress would not go along unless they got soemthing, but the Reagan plan was go past their asking point as well to justify their own excess and if Dems didn’t go their base votes may not support.

He wedged them into a spot with this, and undermined the unions. Dems should have fought for labor rights first. It was Reagan’s straw man and sterotype target. He increased the programs and still they were a negligble part of the total budget yet in comparison to the average paycheck the upgrades gave him fertile fuel in the working man vote to undermine their more important wage/benefit/job security issues that eventually became outsourcing.

Ron Reagan, the Christian from that bastion of Christianity, Hollywood Babylon.Thanks for throwing fuel onto the AIDS fire as well there.

God doesn’t forget, ronnie did, hope he finds a warm place for ya…

Reagan- proof that hair dye makes you smart energetic and able even if you do forget who you talk to midsentence on occasion.So authentic.

James Baker and George Bush had their hands up your puppet ass so much they called you “ring finger”.

Enjoy the fundies commitment to ignorance in the person of GWB and the Stem Cell research, social security solvency, broadband, and environmental and education rollbacks that will make us far less competetive in the world economy.

You set the table for the cowboy wannabes. You played a better soldier than you were also. Beruit, Bin laden,Saddam and Chalabi are proof. And Noriega and the War on Drugs were really great ideas also.

General Electric’s teen smoking cowboy. Healthy does of reality is all you need to cure this Reagan bullshit. Tim Russert probably has your name on his ass. And Sully does too next to his HIV id that he would get if you had you say.

And the Band Played On


Assuming the factoid about the social welfare spending in ’93 or whenever is true, it is the result of several factors unrelated to Reagan, IMO.

First, population growth, including growth in the working age cohort, had been large. Beyond population growth alone, the participation of women in the workforce, necessary as wages for men stagnated and fell in real terms, made the workforce grow even larger (hence, making more people eligible for unemployment benefits).

Secondly, unemployment in ’93 was higher than in ’80, with a far larger workforce unemployed. And the beneficiary population for SS, Medicare and Medicaid was vastly larger. And lastly, the double digit annual increase in the costs of medical care, reflected in the Medicare and Medicaid budgets, was a major part of the increase as well.

As to what Reagan actually did with regard to social welfare spending (broadly defined)– perhaps surprisingly, he really DID cut a lot, just not a lot in the three largest programs (SS, Medicare and Medicaid).

But he squeezed the rest of the spending so hard that even INCLUDING those program expenditures in the definition of social welfare spending, the 8 year increase over his terms in that category of spending was about 1%. (As those 3 programs’ expenditures still rose considerably, the rest of that category of spending fell considerably, to make that bare 1% rise over 8 years).

For an example of how Reagan did it, when the depths of his recession saw 10.8% unemployment, he requested the total spending budget for food stamps be cut 25% that year from the previous year. He didn’t get the full 25% cut, but he did get a 15% cut, at a time that the need for food assistance had been massively increased by the recession.

He threw hundreds of thousands off disability without due process of law, and when an appellate court ruled it illegal, they just brought those cases in another jurisdiction where that court’s ruling didn’t have precedential value. Finally, the practice was ended only as of when the various US attorneys bringing these actions refused to do the administration’s bidding in this regard any longer.

The same was true with Reagan’s overall hard-hearted cutting– it was the GOP itself who finally had enough, decided that the policies were cruel and harsh, and refused to support Reagan on them any longer, leading the first declaration of a Reagan budget as DOA (dead on arrival)– by the Republican Committee majority, where his budget got all of 2 or 3 GOP votes and went down to a massive defeat in a GOP-majority committee.

He zeroed out the CETA job training program, and cut federal housing subsidies by over 90%, later alibiing the large increase in homeless by saying those people preferred to live outdoors.


(comments are closed)