Catherine Rampell reproduces Suzanne Mettler’s amazing chart from “Reconstituting the Submerged State: The Challenge of Social Policy Reform in the Obama Era.”
The tax credits and deductions that lead this list are actually designed so as to obscure their government program nature. But it’s pretty amazing that 44.1 percent of Social Security beneficiaries seem to have convinced themselves that the single largest government social program—a program that consists of the government mailing checks to people—is not a government social program. And then there’s Medicare, the largest forward-looking source of budget deficits. This is all especially galling since in the Obama Era the over-65 demographic has become by far the most conservative group in America, even as it’s the group that gets the lion’s share of the benefits from big government.