The Democrats’ new favorite term is “human infrastructure,” which pretty much means anything they want to spend money on.
That raises the question: Just how much does the government spend on “human infrastructure” today? Turns out, it’s an eye-popping $4.9 trillion this year alone – a new record.
Buried in President Joe Biden’s 2022 budget is a document called Historical Tables, which breaks down annual federal revenues and spending in a variety of ways. One of the tables in this document tracks what the government calls “direct payments to individuals.”
These payments, mind you, don’t count salaries paid to federal employees or the cost of buying equipment. It’s just what the name states – direct money transfers. As the budget document explains:
‘These are federal government spending programs designed to transfer income (in cash or in-kind) to individuals or families. To the extent feasible, this category does not include reimbursements for current services rendered to the Government (e.g., salaries and interest).’
Under Biden, direct payments hit a huge new record high. Think about it this way. At $4.9 trillion, “direct payments to individuals” this year are equal to the entire federal budget of just two years ago. These money transfers will account for 22.3% of the nation’s entire GDP.
If this income transfer were a country, it would be bigger than Germany’s entire economy and slightly smaller than Japan’s.
Worse, the government will have to borrow $1.3 trillion of the money it’s transferring. That’s like robbing Peter’s children and grandchildren to pay Paul.
Nor do these numbers account for Biden’s bloated “American Jobs Plan” and “American Families Plan,” which would vastly expand the already massive wealth transfer state.
Much of this year’s explosion in direct payments came from the COVID-19 relief bills, with Biden’s bloated $1.9 trillion “rescue” plan adding to the pile.
But even without those one-time payments, the government has in recent decades become little more than a gigantic check-writing machine, thanks to the growth of middle-class entitlements.
This year, for example, the government will send out $1.1 trillion in Social Security checks to retirees, and another $843 billion to pay retiree medical bills. It will send another $139 billion to help students pay for college. It will write $379 billion in pension checks to retired federal workers.
Surprisingly little of this wealth transfer actually goes to the poor.
This year, only 5% of the $4.9 trillion will go toward welfare spending, 4% to food programs, and 11% toward Medicaid. So a lot of the money middle-class families are paying in taxes is just going back to them in the form of government checks.
Worse, much of it will go to the wealthy. Almost 12% of retirees collecting Social Security checks have incomes of $100,000 or above. A 2011 report by then-Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., found that millionaires were collecting $9 billion in retirement checks from the federal government.
A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that other giant middle-class entitlement – Medicare – results in “net transfers from the poor to the wealthy,” both because of how it’s paid for and the fact that wealthier retirees tend to live longer and spend more on health care.
Does anybody have any idea whether any of this massive wealth transfer machinery is worth it? Of course not. Big-government leftists like Biden just keep adding new programs on top of the old ones on the promise that the extra money will solve some problem or another. Plus, the more money the government redistributes, the greater control these leftists have over the populace. By taking an ever-larger share of people’s income, they can dictate how, when, and where people get their money back.
So, before another dime gets spent on “human infrastructure,” taxpayers should demand that the government account for all the money it’s already transferring from one taxpayer’s pocket to another.
Otherwise, we are truly doomed. As Alexis de Tocqueville warned, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board