Millions of Americans Don’t Know They Receive Government Benefits

Monday, February 14, 2011
For all the worry about being too big and too intrusive, the U.S. government has an invisibility issue with millions of Americans. It spends billions on programs to assist those who, it turns out, don’t see themselves as receiving government assistance at all.
Research conducted by Suzanne Mettler of Cornell University found that 60% of respondents who claim the home mortgage interest deduction also said they have not used a government social program, even though Uncle Sam is the one making the deduction possible. Similarly, 53% of people using student loan programs and 52% claiming the child and dependent care tax credit denied using a government social program.
Furthermore, 44% of Social Security recipients, 43% receiving unemployment insurance, 42% receiving veterans’ benefits and 40% of Medicare recipients declared in the survey that they did not use government programs. The same goes for 40% taking advantage of the G.I. Bill.
The Obama administration gets little love for the tax breaks it instituted two years ago to help stimulate the economy. Because officials decided to spread out the benefits of the tax cut, few Americans felt the effect, and consequently, only 12% knew their taxes had been reduced. Meanwhile, 24% thought their taxes had gone up.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Probing the Depths of the ‘Submerged State’ (by Lee Drutman, Miller-McCune)
The Invisible American Welfare State (by Henry Farrell, The Monkey Cage)


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