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The Absurd Amount of Entitlements That Go to Rich People

The Absurd Amount of Entitlements That Go to Rich People

Paul Buchheit

Many wealthy Americans complain about the amount of government subsidies going to the poor. Their complaints demonstrate ignorance, or greed, or a total lack of fair-mindedness, or a combination of all those symptoms of entitlement at the top.

The Rich Get as Much of the Safety Net as the Poor


“…In the .01%, - those with over $100 Million in assets - received more in Government Transfers in 2014 than the average household in the lowest 50%.”

This is where the now DEREGULATED, and Captured, Media comes in handy, as an Invaluable Tool of the .01% to keep this information from GETTING to the majority of American Citizens, and keep their Misguide Focus on the already Oppressed and Victimized.


“Wealthy Americans complain about ''entitlements” for the poor, but they keep collecting their own entitlements to a degree that average Americans can only dream about."

And they keep this information from spreading with every possible trick at their disposal.


In addition to the issues addressed in this article there are estate tax provisions that tax inherited assets based on the value upon inheritance rather than the value of the asset from the time of purchase that the rest of us pay taxes on. For decades the GOP has been characterizing the estate tax as “double taxation”, whereas most inherited wealth is NEVER taxed while for most of us Social Security IS an example of double taxation…you pay tax on the amount withheld from your pay check and pay tax again if and when you eventually get that same money back in a Social Security check.

I will be very surprised if Congress and Trump don’t eliminate the estate tax entirely within the next year.


I am not denying the presence of tax breaks only available to the wealthy, but some of those listed are ones anyone owning a home and paying a mortgage (and contributing a portion of their income to causes and charities) can take advantage of. Or is merely owning/paying a mortgage and taxes for a modest roof over one’s head now make one part of the evil rich?

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Prior to 1986 “bipartisan tax reform”, the most regressive tax revisions in history all taxpayers who owed any tax could deduct charitable contributions. Since then only businesses and taxpayers itemizing deductions (effectively only the 15 to 18% of taxpayers, most of whom have a sizable mortgage) are allowed to deduct charitable contributions.

The 1986 changes were designed to shift charitable contributions to organizations favored by the top 20% of the income spectrum and that mission was accomplished within a decade.


Buchheit’s comment about the home mortgage deduction was referring to a second home, which, IMO, is a luxury item most of us do not have.

The other issue I have with mortgage interest deduction is that it encourages large amounts of borrowing. For many of us, paying off our loans is the best way to remain solvent in our later years. Therefore, it is once again the wealthy who benefit.


Although the home mortgage deduction is sustained allegedly to increase home ownership, all research (except that funded by vested interests) confirms that the rate of home ownership is actually decreased by the deduction because it increases the sale price of homes.

Neither Canada or the United Kingdom have a home mortgage interest deduction and both have higher rates of home ownership than the US. Close to the same percentage of homeowners in Canada, the UK and the US finance their home purchases.


I’m sorry, whatever the legal-dictionary definition of “entitlement” may be, the federal budget makes a clear distinction, limiting it to benefits not included in the budget because they are based on premiums paid in (Medicare) or contributions through FICA taxes (Social Security Retirement and Disability). Buchheit has muddled an already tricky topic by mixing definitions and also mixing percentages and “amounts.” Not all “transfers” are “entitlements,” a word that Piketty, Saez, and Zucman carefully avoid. Also, Buchheit’s intitial list of transfers mixes PSZ’s carefully teased-apart direct monetary transfers such as hot-button “food stamps/SNAP” with in-kind transfers such as Medicare and Medicaid (which are mostly very different matters), Veterans’ benefits, and leaves in the great-big (for his argument) “etc.” tax credits and benefits.

Let’s be clear: The rich are not getting food stamps. They’re getting a different kind of welfare. They’re as entitled as any of us to the Medicare (which would be relied on only as secondary insurance) and SS benefits they’ve paid into, but they certainly have enough other income that they’re paying taxes on their SS income (if they file for it). And remember that veterans’ benefits in 2014 covered generations from WWI to last week in Afghanistan.

This is not easy information to comprehend, but there’s no more reason to inflame it than to suppress it.


One often overlooked obstacle to claiming a mortgage deduction is that you have to have enough deductions to itemize. Generally, only higher income households have sufficient deductions to itemize, though those in poor health and with many out-of-pocket medical expenditures can also itemize. In essence, the mortgage deduction benefits higher income households more than low income households.


I take your point and have grappled with it–the semantic choice of words, too! When the poor need help it’s an (ooh, yuck) entitlement. When the rich get a benefit it’s done in the name of fairness or leveling some imaginary playing field.

but it’s a benefit by any other name. And whether you or I agree with the terms and structure of how he chose and defined those benefits,he has suggested they are substantial.

I think this is a discussion worth having.

All taxation systems are wealth re-distribution schemes.

Even the Koch brothers if they chose would not want to build and maintain an interstate road system. And yet their companies benefit over and over again.

That is clearly why communities come together and do things. For the COMMON good.

But some of those tax breaks the author writes about ASSUME second homes other perks. His analysis may not be perfect, but he surely isn’t completely wrong.


I didn’t say “wrong”; I said “misleading,” and choosing inflammatory terminology.

I mam an atheist, and definitely should not be offending the good believers on this site.
But Oh Dear Lord!

Okay, I understand that.

The balance point is this: Does the semantic issues erase the issue for you, or would you just like it wrapped differently?

I know its a fantasy but I now want the Benz in the picture.
I never cared much for watches.
Only cause I appreciate good design.

I’d like it explained better, so we don’t have to keep arguing with the wrong words.

I think he’s making a point about the word entitlements, probably to create the counterpoint I did in my comments. When it’s poor folks, its an entitlement; when it is rich folk or even middle class folk it’s fairness or leveled playing field.

I think that is it is more than a fair message for all of us to receive that we benefitted from ENTITLEMENTS or Government subsidies or simply Benefits.

And his other overarching point is that the more you make the more you benefit.

The point becomes, “So quit snarking about the chump change low income folks get.”

Finally, you can definitely say, “I disagree with his use of the word entitlements here but overall think he makes many good points” (which is what I have heard you say).

The point here is calling out those not in poverty who complain about the evil poor, being lazy and living that wonderful life of desperation on the dole.

I don’t think this author is making the argument you are rejecting.


Actually, back when my husband and I worked the only time we got to take a mortgage deduction was the year we had enough bills to itemize rather than take the standard deduction. That also happened to be the year that Mike was in the hospital 3 different times (the hospital bills were what made it possible to itemize).


Most home owners are not in the position to claim the mortgage as a deduction. 77.7% of the deductions are claimed by people making over 100K a yr. People making between 30-40K are 2.8% So the people who need it the most are the least able to claim it.