Robert Samuelson—Washington D.C. Chooses the path of Least Resistance

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Washington of conventional wisdom and the real Washington are two entirely different places. The Washington of conventional wisdom is overrun by well-paid insiders — lobbyists, lawyers, publicists — who systematically manipulate government policies to benefit corporations and the rich, defying the “will of the people.” The real Washington has government paid for by the rich and well-to-do. Benefits go mainly to the poor and middle class, while politicians of both parties live in fear that they might offend the “will of the people” — voters.

Recently, Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, testified before the House Budget Committee on the growth of the 10-largest “means tested” federal programs that serve people who qualify by various definitions of poverty. Here’s what Haskins reported: From 1980 to 2011, annual spending on these programs grew from $126 billion to $626 billion (all figures in inflation-adjusted “2011 dollars”); dividing this by the number of people below the government poverty line, spending went from $4,300 per poor person in 1980 to $13,000 in 2011. In 1962, spending per person in poverty was $516.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentMedicareSocial SecurityPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate

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Posted May 1, 2012 at 6:00 am

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