Fox Message Testing: Week-Long Series To Label Safety Net Beneficiaries “Takers”

Fox Business is running a week-long attack on the social safety net, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, labeling beneficiaries of these programs “takers.” This messaging comes on the heels of a National Bureau of Economic Research study that concluded that these programs are highly effective at keeping people out of poverty.

After A Report Concluding That Public Programs Are Very Effective At Reducing Poverty ...

CBPP: “The Poverty Rate Would Double Without” Public Assistance Programs. From a blog post by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, commenting on a National Bureau of Economic Research study on social safety net programs:

With anti-poverty programs under serious attack in Washington, here's something to keep in mind: a major new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) finds that public programs keep one in six Americans out of poverty -- primarily the elderly, disabled, and working poor -- and that the poverty rate would double without these programs.

Without the cash and non-cash income provided by programs such as Social Security, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and the Earned Income Tax Credit:

  • The share of Americans below the poverty line in 2004 ($19,307 for a family of four) would have more than doubled, from 13.5 percent to 29 percent. That is, 45 million more Americans would have been poor.
  • The share of Americans in “deep poverty,” with incomes below half the poverty line, would have more than tripled, to 21 percent.
  • The share of Americans who are poor or near-poor, with incomes below one-and-a-half-times the poverty line, would have risen to about 40 percent.

[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/18/11]

Fox Biz Message Tests: The “Makers” Give “Government Handouts” To The “Takers”

Fox Business Unveils “Entitlement Nation: Makers Vs. Takers.” Fox Business' website introduced the network's “week-long theme of Entitlement Nation: Makers vs. Takers” on May 20, featuring the following graphic:

[, 5/20/11]

Dobbs And Barnes: “Most” People On The “Government Handouts” Social Security And Medicare Are “Takers.” From Lou Dobbs' Fox Business show:

LOU DOBBS: All week this week, Fox Business presenting a special series called “Entitlement Nation, Makers Versus Takers,” on the nation's growing dependence on government handouts. Peter Barnes and Ashley Webster here with two reports tonight. Peter, let's begin with you.

PETER BARNES: Well Lou, according to a report by the Urban Institute, most current Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries are takers, getting a lot more in benefits than they pay in payroll taxes. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 5/23/11]

Napolitano: “Dependency Is Turning This Country From A Nation Of Makers ... Into A Nation Of Takers.” From Andrew Napolitano's Fox Business show:

ANDREW NAPOLITANO: But first, we turn to the welfare state in America. It's entitlement nation week here on Fox Business. Too many Americans, nearly half, get money from the federal government, and nearly half Americans -- of Americans pay no taxes. And the feds give away more money than they collect in taxes. The money is doled out primarily in the form of entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Not only are these problems unconst -- or, these programs unconstitutional, as the federal government is not authorized to take money from one group and give it to another, but they make Americans dependent upon big government. And dependency is turning this country from a nation of makers who come up with new ideas, who employ new people, who risk their wealth and create wealth, into a nation of takers who primarily consume other people's wealth. [Fox Business, Freedom Watch, 5/23/11]

Asman: “Makers And Takers ... Embodies The Great Divide In This Country.” Fox Business host David Asman said, “Kicking off tonight, for several weeks now, Scoreboard has been featuring a segment called 'Makers and Takers,' which we think embodies the great divide in this country between the folks who actually make things, and those who actually take what others make.” Asman added that “most of the takers are in the government.” [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 5/23/11]