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Gov’t Dependency Plunges Under Trump — Why Aren’t We Celebrating?

I&I Editorial

Friday’s jobs report showed that the economy created 224,000 new jobs, yet the unemployment rate edged up to 3.7%.

Both are welcome news. The unemployment rate went up because 158,000 rejoined the labor market. These are people who previously didn’t have a job and weren’t looking for one.

The labor market is tight enough that people who’d given up on work are getting lured back into the job market. And they’re finding work.

As of June, there were 5.6 million more people with jobs than when President Trump took office — despite claims by prominent economists that the economy was already at full employment when he was sworn in.

The healthy labor market has resulted in something even more important yet little noticed: A sharp trend away from dependency on federal welfare and other benefits.

Take a look at the numbers:

Food Stamps. The Department of Agriculture reports that April enrollment in food stamps — which is officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — was down more than 308,000.

So far this year, SNAP enrollment has declined by nearly 1.2 million. And since Trump took office, the number of people collecting food stamps has plunged by more than 6.7 million.

Enrollment is now lower than it’s been since August 2009.

Disability. The number of workers on Social Security’s Disability Insurance program has sharply declined as well. It went from 8.8 million in January 2017 to 8.49 million as of May. That’s the lowest it’s been since August 2011.

Some of that decline is because beneficiaries who turn 65 shift over to regular Social Security. But the data also show that new disability applications are down. Average monthly applications for SSDI this year is 9% below where it was in 2016, government data show.

Medicaid. Enrollment in Medicaid also has dropped sharply since Trump took office — despite the fact that Virginia decided to expand its program under Obamacare, which added some 300,000 to its Medicaid rolls over those years.

As of this March, the total number of people on Medicaid and CHIP — the health insurance program for children — was down by 2.5 million.

Obamacare. The number enrolled in Obamacare has declined every year since Trump took office as well, and is now 1 million below where it was at the end of 2016.

Welfare. The number of those collecting welfare — either on the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or what are called “separate state programs” — has dropped by more than 800,000 under Trump.

This is all good news, and most of it is in sharp contrast to the previous administration. Food stamp enrollment was 13 million higher when Obama left office than when he came in. There were 1.4 million more workers on disability. Medicaid enrollment exploded thanks to Obamacare. The number on welfare was only slightly lower by the end of Obama’s two terms in office, despite the fact that the recession ended six months after he was sworn in.

In a less biased news media world, the decline in government dependency would be front-page news.

Instead, when they’re acknowledged at all, these enrollment drops are treated as bad news by the Left, which treats any declining benefit programs as a problem that needs to be fixed — usually by expanding these programs. Thus, you have every Democratic candidate for president talking about trillions upon trillions of new benefit programs, which are designed to ensnare as many as possible in the net of government dependency.

They have it exactly backward. The goal should be to have zero people collecting government benefits — because they are gainfully employed and don’t need them. Anything else should be treated as a failure.

— Written by John Merline

Editor’s Note: The original version put the decimal point in the wrong place for the number of workers on disability. The correct numbers are 8.8 million and 8.49 million. We apologize for the mistake. The chart has been updated as well.

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • “They have it exactly backward. The goal should be to have zero people collecting government benefits — because they are gainfully employed and don’t need them. Anything else should be treated as a failure.”
    Exactly right: Dems & media (but I repeat myself), & far too many RINOs) should be treated as failures.

  • We absolutely should be celebrating. Most disturbing, though, is the number on disability. In a country of 330 million, why the heck are 84 million on disability? It’s down from 88 million, but still 25%. Are 1 in 4 of us truly disabled?

    • My apologies Susan. We had the decimal in the wrong place. The numbers are 8.8 million and 8.49 million. It’s still an incredibly large number of people.

  • There can be no celebration of America as long as corrupt state media buries the good news of the Trump presidency. The 3 major networks boycotted our July 4th celebration in a blatant example of their contempt for U.S.

    Thank God for a free internet (which is increasingly being censored by those who want China-like control over what we see and hear)

  • “Gov’t Dependency Plunges Under Trump — Why Aren’t We Celebrating?”

    Because Trump.

  • Please fix the SS disability numbers. We don’t have 88 million folks on disability – real number is 8.8 million.

    • Thank you so much for pointing that out. The numbers have been corrected.

  • Great report. It just proves the old adage “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

  • Donald J Trump has done more for African Americans than anyone in my lifetime.

  • The beneficial impact of corporate citizens like Home Depot and Peter Kiewitt and True Drilling and thousands of other in our communities far exceeds the press they receive. I’ve been a volunteer first responder for forty-plus years and in every natural or man-made disaster I’ve worked on corporate donations of equipment, tools, materials and manpower has contributed hugely to the success of recovery efforts. Construction companies have donated heavy equipment to fight fires and clean up streets. They have provided dump trucks, loaders, excavators and operators to clear pathways for rescue equipment and to drain flooded neighborhoods. Home Depot and Lowes and others have donated rubber gloves, protective face shields, goggles, hand tools and hearing protection to responders. Other – routinely provide first aid supplies, bug repellent, bottled water, sun screen and literally tons of other necessities to enable responders to work safely and efficiently to restore communities and protect the public. We can’t do enough to thank these businesses, so please – remember – it’s the citizens and the businesses that fix our communities. It’s not the politicians and the government.

  • The left thrives on dependency. Being self sufficient is nothing to celebrate in their eyes.

  • I’m sorry, but since when did welfare statistics become economic indicators? What serious economist actually buys into this nonsense?

  • Decent people — “men of good will,” in the classical formulation — are celebrating. It’s those whose ascent to power requires an increase in the number of dependents on the State that are unhappy.

    Time was, anyone capable of reading this article would have admitted unhesitatingly that the economic news is all good. The psychotic reactions of the Left to Donald Trump make it plain that those times are behind us.

  • So…less people needing benefits is awesome. However, are you taking into account the changes the trump administration put into affect to make these benefits harder to obtain?? This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. In my opinion the 2 party system has everyone waving a red flag or a blue, meanwhile the middle class is disappearing.

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