Why Social Welfare Programs Shouldn't Be Means Tested

38 thoughts on “Why Social Welfare Programs Shouldn't Be Means Tested”

  1. I’m curious how much money you think you can save through cutting the bureaucracy behind these social programs? And then what your idea on a realistic amount of spending per a year on social programs would be.

    Being a Libertarian I love the sound of any “progressive” saying they actually want to cut something. So I’m curious what you and all the other actually well thought out liberals also see is good to cut back on government spending wise, obviously referring to at the federal level.

  2. In addition to David's comments, means testing SS is a very bad idea. It changes SS from a social safety net to a welfare program. Once it's a welfare program it would be easier for the haters of SS to cut it and eventually eliminate it. SS has stayed popular and politically untouchable because we all participate in it. Don't fall for the means testing trap!

  3. I agree with all those reasons and one additional; if a program is for everyone, there is less stigma and opportunities for greedy vultures to claim a need to cut "the hand outs". if it's only going to the neediest, while that should be reason enough to have the program, it gives those who benefit from cutting the program an excuse to do so.

  4. It would be more sensible to create a cultural more of turning down the benefit by those who do not need the benefit (a personal subjective means test), with the caveat that the benefit could be reinstated should the personal need arise. Additionally, the "return" of the benefit could be a deduction on your tax return, or in this day of decreasing privacy, noted on a public published list of such community-minded donars.

  5. They already do means testing for senior's Medicare supplement costs. I sold a rental property the year before I retired so I could pay off my debts and live on Social Security. I ran into a limit, $170,000 where you have a substantial premium increase if you make that much. It was my only high year and the money is spent. I consider it unfair.

  6. Total nonsense. There is no good argument against means testing and I could run it from my flat with a home computer. As for the rich getting what they put in, again nonsense. David is advocating for poor people to go hungry or cold so that a billionaire can have an extra bit of monthly income. That is as sadistic as can be.

  7. It depends on what you mean by "means testing". If you mean not giving welfare to rich people, I agree, we don't need to do that. Most social programs have a cut off point, where people right above a certain income point don't benefit from them. But, they don't NEED them as much as people at the bottom of the income distribution. They are mostly middle class folks who could be doing better if they got some extra income, but they don't know how much worse the poor have it. I don't believe we should get rid of all forms of social welfare and make a universal basic income that we give to rich and poor alike.
    On the other hand, I think their are certain programs that should be universal. Universal healthcare makes sense to give to everyone, because everyone benefits from the eradication of contagious diseases. This should be like firefighters; stop your neighbor's house from burning down so your house doesn't burn down.
    In the realm of disability, means testing means something entirely different. It means going to some doctor who doesn't know you, and trying to explain how you are disabled. People, even doctors, don't always believe someone who is young or otherwise healthy looking could be disabled. There are disabilities that aren't always visible to the naked eye, and doctors are suspicious of catch-all diagnoses like chronic fatigue. They aren't up to date with the fact the chronic fatigue is often the result of repeated attacks to the immune system

  8. I just dont understand DJT thinking on the wall,why dosen't he just change the litigation language? I mean if he going to extort money from the American taxpayers,why not like the rest of Senate and Congress?

  9. You definitely hit the nail on the head! Many countries in Europe run through all these systematic aberrations that are driven by originally well-meaning policies.

  10. David nailed it with his last point. If your income is teetering on the the qualifying point for state Medicaid benefits, it's very likely not worth it to get a pay raise or higher paying job. An extra $50 a month could potentially mean hundreds of dollars in co-pays, deductibles, uncovered services, and drug costs. And that's true even if you can still qualify for a heavy ACA subsidy on your premiums.

    There is a much heavier impact when the means testing point is on the low end of income levels, but people will be gaming that point no matter where it is. Even when it doesn't effect your ability to put food on the table, it would be stupid to take a pay increase that will actually lead to you having less money.

  11. I would not make a blanket statement for/against means testing. It depends for each service. For example a billionaire will not use public healthcare even if it is available to them. I know this because I live in NZ and if you can afford private, you go private. We have welfare in NZ that give beneficiaries money, those need to be means tested because they are targets for fraud. We once had a fraudster who was taking so much money he was burying gold bars in his back yard. He was ripping off the super which is not means tested. For each of his fake identities he only had to do one appointment a year to keep his payments coming in. He got caught coz he wore the same sweater to every appointment!

  12. Yea bc we just have money growing on trees, why would I work hard just to get my fortune STOLEN by gun barrel

  13. Perhaps if we offer an award to those who can afford health care, and social security for themselves, for contributing to social welfare programs and not engaging in the benefits voluntarily..
    It seems to me the largest contribution by contributors to social welfare programs, because of their income, are the rich ..
    And if we penalize them because they are rich, they will lobby against social welfare programs, as the Libertarians actively do..
    I'm not sure if offering some kind of one time reward or return to the rich, for not engaging in social welfare programs, and still contributing to them, is not a means test?

  14. The rich have accountants that hide wealth so that their offspring can get benefits. People just over the threshold don't have accountants and get stung.

  15. 100% agree. Social programs should be universal. Even if all of the wealthy decide to use all programs, it's still cheaper than running means testing. More importantly, people don't like feeling cheated, which is what plays into the stigma associated with means testing to begin with.

  16. Good Points made David thank you for your show as always interesting to listen to your take on these issues.

  17. I agree. My monthly disability benefit is around $1300, but my the total of all my benefits (ie disability, Medicare, Medicaid, etc) would cost about $46,000 per year. That means if I take a job for $35,000 per year, I will end up losing benefits and thus live with less. In other words, if I want more than $1300 per month to spend on myself and my bills, then I need an annual income over $46,000. That's a pretty steep mountain considering half of Americans live below $50k per year. So the hole in between my monthly benefit check and an annual income that would get me ahead is enormous. This is what means testing has created for so many Americans that need assistance but want to do more for themselves.

  18. What about food stamps? If you make too much money, you can't have it. Of course, I'm on SSI in Oklahoma, and I get only $15 a month in food stamps.

  19. There's an older video of Sam Seder debating this point on Chris Hayes' previous show – I believe the clip is up on Majority Report's channel – and it's a really excellent dive into the subject.

  20. I think the reasons against are weak. Whether it costs money or not if it is the right thing to do it should be done as we can easily look at the many ways the government wrongly funds some programs or wrongly makes financial concessions to the rich. All the time claiming there is no money. There has never been a time in history when wealth has been generated at the current rate. Why doesn't anyone ask themselves where al this wealth is going instead of perpetuating the notion, fed to us, that we don't have the funds to do the right thing. If this feels to idealistic for your tastes then I will add that the jobs created might be of great benefit in these times of industrial closure.

  21. One obvious problem with means testing is that if we do that, then people will start gutting these programs. After all, if people are paying into program and not using the program, then people start to have no incentives to keep it around and start cutting those programs.

  22. David, thank you for having these discussions and providing a forum for others to do the same. I agree with you completely on this one. Everyone who pays into a program ought to have access to it.

  23. I totally agree. It's too much resources for means testing. The cut off point is too complicated. It's hard to believe that giving wealthy people stuff they don't need is good but it's the best way to keep it simple. Simpler means less stress in the system which means less chances of the system breaking down.

  24. Another point is that it's a good idea getting rich people on board of social programs.

    Gatekeeping them from accesing social programs is counterproductive in the long run and will make them resent those programs.
    We should want rich people to be graduates from public universities for example.

    If we have rich people whose dear "alma mater" is some public university, they are more likely to vote for public university friendly politicians.

  25. You know, I was kind of passive/lukewarm-favourable of "means testing", but I cannot really argue against your points.

  26. my brother gets 65 grand on two types of disability pay. Yet is still living in poverty due to medical costs not covered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *