According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a record 49 percent of Americans live in a household where someone receives at least one type of government benefit. But, Congress’s inability to get the U.S. budget under control has been blamed on political dysfunction, though an even bigger obstacle may be the American public.
Congress has repeatedly expanded benefits and programs in recent years, adding to the ranks of potential losers in any deficit- reduction deal. Last year, as lawmakers prepared to leave for the Christmas recess, they agreed to create a program for emergency responders to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, promising medical care for numerous conditions. More than 60,000 people have enrolled as of July.
Not just medical care for emergency responders plays a role, but demographics also play a major role. The eldest baby boomers became eligible this year for Medicare, three years after beginning to receive Social Security checks. And, even with the Iraq conflict winding down the more than 2 million Americans who have served in one of the theaters have begun claiming promised health-care and education benefits.
“None of this adds up,” said Conrad. “One of the biggest obstacles to doing what has to be done is public opinion,” according to Bloomberg.
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