During a segment on his Fox News show last night about African-American support for the Republican Party, host Bill O’Reilly asserted that the roughly 85-90 percent of African-Americans who regularly vote for Democrats only do so because Democrats have made them “dependent” on government “entitlements”:
WILLIE BROWN [FORMER SF MAYOR]: [Democrats] moved in and offered programs and policies that allowed African Americans to become incredibly dedicated and the anchor in many Democratic elections.
O’REILLY: Alright, but that’s a nice view if you’re a Democrat. But someone else would say the Democrats moved in and gave them all kinds of entitlements, making them dependent on the Democratic party and the state, which is not a good thing.
O’Reilly assumes that African-Americans receive more government assistance than other Americans and hence that’s what makes them more likely to vote Democratic. But this is flatly false:
White Americans, poor and middle-class alike, receive the vast majority of tax-funded government assistance programs, from monthly assistance to Social Security to food stamps.
TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), the program that provides aid to single mothers, is the most well-known welfare program, but the truth is that Social Security and Medicare are also social welfare services, funded by tax dollars. To that end, nearly 70 percent of all benefits of these programs go to white people. In fact, since African Americans have lower life expectancy, many work and pay into the Social Security and Medicare programs through their tax dollars, only to have white Americans, who have a longer life expectancy, benefit from the income they’ve left behind.
The actual historical explanation for African-American support for Democrats, by contrast, doesn’t require parsing budgets: Democrats became, around 1964, the lead proponents of civil rights for African-Americans, while the Republican policy record is decidedly more mixed.
If O’Reilly wants the GOP to start attracting black voters, he should tell the party to start with a hard look in the mirror. One of the leading Presidential hopefuls called President Obama “the food stamp President.” The flagship right-wing publication National Review published outright racists for years before finally catching on. O’Reilly himself has described a famous soul-food restaurant as “like any other restaurant…even though it’s run by blacks” and told an African-American professor that he “kinda” looks like a cocaine dealer.