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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

What Good Do Public Assistance Programs Do? (A lot!)

What Good Do Public Assistance Programs Do? (A lot!)

July 19, 2005

Great column yesterday by EJ Dionne on a new report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities documenting the value public programs play in lifting families out of poverty. More than 27 million Americans are lifted out of poverty by public benefits. More than 90 million obtain decent health coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program. Food Stamps help 25 million poor folks obtain a healthy diet. The Women's Infants and Children's Program (WIC) helps 8 million pregnant and postpartum women obtain supplemental nurtrition.

"Does all this cost a fortune? Not by any fair reckoning. Federal spending on Medicaid and SCHIP represents 1.5 percent of gross domestic product. Federal financing for the rest of the low-income programs consumes just 2.3 percent of GDP. For a sense of comparison, consider that defense spending consumes 4 percent of GDP and interest on the national debt gobbles up 1.5 percent. President Bush's tax cuts -- which go in large part to the wealthiest Americans -- will consume roughly 2 percent of GDP."

You can obtain the full reports from the Center by clicking here.