Guest Writer: Josh Senft
A popular talking point from many on “the left” is that because Republicans generally tend to not support increases in entitlement spending, they don’t care about the poor or the elderly. They claim that Republicans are rigging the system to benefit the wealthiest Americans.
Entitlement programs make up an incredibly large percentage of our national debt. Republicans believe it’s irresponsible to pass all this debt from out-of-control spending to future generations without working to remedy the situation by either cutting spending or raising taxes. Republicans usually err on the side of cutting spending.
The federal income tax rate for the wealthiest Americans is nearly 40 percent today. This is a system that essentially punishes success and, in turn, ends up hurting philanthropic endeavors. It is important to keep in mind that not all wealthy people are scheming, materialistic individuals. The rich have done incredible things for those in need with their fortunes.
Certain entitlement programs, such as Medicaid and SNAP, have the potential to dis-incentivize work. I’ve witnessed this trend flow through my hometown. Some of these people are friends and distant family members. This is not to say a majority of recipients abuse the system. Nonetheless, it is troubling to see people make luxury purchases but claim they can’t afford basic necessities for survival. We should be promoting policy that works to help people become self-sufficient, not dependent on government—measuring success by how many people are getting off welfare, not onto it. One can argue that current entitlement programs for the poor can be potentially detrimental to the work ethic of society when people grow accustomed to having a safety net from the government.
A growing liberal argument is that we simply need to keep our entitlement spending for the poor where it is, or increase it to defeat poverty, and that Republicans who believe entitlement reform is necessary just want to see groups of people suffer in order to benefit the wealthy. No—Republicans understand that the status quo is not working, as it relates to our federal deficit, as well as the intended goals for these programs. Both Democrats and Republicans want to see people get out of poverty—we just have different ideas on how to get there.
Yes, there are greedy rich people who try to influence the powerful, but make no mistake, the insinuation that Republicans are in office merely to cater to their whims could not be further from the truth. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is an excellent leader for advancing conservative policy solutions to fight poverty. He recently took part in a CNN Town Hall, advocating for legislation that helps people acquire skills needed to compete in the job market, arguing that we need to be creative with our approach to poverty, not just throw more money at entitlement programs.
We are instructed in the Bible to be cheerful givers (2 Corinthians 9:7)—not reluctant, mandated or coerced givers. When we have more of our own money (lower taxes), we are likely to be more generous. Also, when the government actually works in conjunction with the faith community, which is benevolent, the government can let the church go about its business helping those in need, and avoid duplicity of programs.
Josh is a junior national security major from Middletown, Ohio.