Fox Attacks People For Collecting The Social Security And Medicaid Benefits They Paid For

Fox's Gretchen Carlson and Jonah Goldberg attacked people who receive Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and other benefits, claiming that they are receiving “government handouts.” In fact, Americans pay for (or, in the case of retirees, have paid for) such benefits directly out of their paychecks. 

During the segment, Fox displayed the below graph showing the rise in spending, which echoes numbers recently released by the American Enterprise Institute:

Fox graphic 

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, in 2010, the federal government paid $718 billion on Social Security and another $489 billion on Medicare. The Congressional Budget Office found that $120 billion was spent on unemployment insurance. This $1.327 trillion accounts for 60.3 percent of the spending identified by Fox.

But Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits are not “handouts.” Americans pay for these benefits directly from their paychecks. 

In 2010 Americans paid $213 billion in Medicare payroll tax and another $72.9 billion in insurance premiums. Additionally, in 2010 Americans paid more than $580 billion taxes paid to the Social Security trust fund. Regarding unemployment insurance, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities explained that while these payments come from employers, “economists generally regard the tax as falling on workers on the theory that the dollars employers pay in tax would otherwise go into workers' paychecks.”

These programs are therefore paid for by working Americans and are therefore not “handouts,” as Goldberg and Carlson said.

Furthermore, economist Jared Bernstein has explained, this increase in overall spending on programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits is attributable the population getting older, inefficiency in health care spending and the great recession causing an increase in entitlement expenditures and a decrease in revenue.