Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Incentives and Disincentives

We’ve been talking on some of these broadcasts about the factors that have contributed to the shocking decline in the number of nuclear families and the enormous number of children who are growing up today without a father in the home. Another factor that must be included in the list of enemies who helped to kill the American family is financial incentives and disincentives. The great economist Arthur Laffer has pointed out that these incentives are very powerful, especially among the poor.

Because of pressure from several activist groups, we have allowed powerful incentives to discourage marriage and actually favor women forgoing marriage and bearing children without marriage. Our income tax system used to advantage the traditional married couple raising their own children, but now it seems to be just the opposite. Political strategists advise candidates not to talk about the social issues, but the fact is that you can’t talk about fiscal issues without addressing social issues because taxpayers’ money is spent mostly on 78 types of taxpayer handouts to deal with social problems, including food, housing, child care, school lunch programs and even school breakfast. Other programs are incentives built into tax credits or tax reductions of various kinds. Several years ago, a very prominent Governor who could have been elected President took this bad advice and called for a "truce" in talking about social issues. That killed his candidacy.

The public is almost totally unaware of the size and scope of taxpayer spending on poverty, and that’s why we call it the Hidden Welfare State. You need to know the details of what is hidden; that’s why you need my new book called Who Killed the American Family? The awesome fact is that we have spent more on the War on Poverty since it was started by Lyndon Johnson than we have spent on all the wars the United States ever fought.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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