The Hidden Welfare State

Suzanne Mettler has turned her important research on perceptions of government programs into a popular article for the Washington Monthly. The key point is, I think, well-summarized by this chart:

Basically when you create government programs to subsidize certain activities via the offer of tax credits or tax deductions, people don’t mentally process that as a “government program.” Thus one can speculate that such people would be hostile to the idea of higher tax rates as a way to fund useful government programs, even both tax subsidies and appropriated subsidies require higher tax rates over the long term.