How Poverty Programs Grow

Government poverty programs usually start with a small nucleus of people who, most everyone agrees, really need help. Then just beyond that nucleus, there is a group of people who almost qualify but make just a little too much money. So wouldn’t compassion demand that you expand the program just a little to include them? When you do that, you’ve now created a bigger circle, meaning even more people just beyond the line, and the pressure builds to include those people. And so it goes, eventually encompassing vast groups of people who would never have been defined as being “needy” when the program first began.

Now our legislature is faced not with an incremental enlargement of the Medicaid program, but a 47 percent expansion! We’re delusional to think we can continue to expand entitlement programs and not have devastating consequences for our economy and for the incentive for people to provide for themselves. At some point, we have to say, “Stop!” And for our legislature, now is that time.