The New York Times recently did a piece on how (as the title of the piece puts it) “Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It.” The piece is meant to portray advocates of small government as being hypocritical, but fails to do so. For one thing, it defines “the safety net” as including things like the earned-income tax credit, Medicare, and Social Security. You have to pay into Medicare and Social Security, so those are, in fact, earned benefits, rather than “safety net” measures for the down-and-out. The earned income tax credit got expanded thanks to the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which happened on, and was pushed for by Ronald Reagan–you know, the guy who supposedly shredded the safety net. There’s some irony for you, but on a more important note, how tax credits suddenly get considered as part of the “safety net” is anyone’s guess; I presume that if we wait long enough, the Times will consider “tax cuts for the rich” to be part of the “safety net” as well.
In any event, the story–flawed though its premise was–prompted Paul Krugman, with his typical grace and charm, to call small-government advocates exercising their right to collect benefits under Social Security (which they paid into), exercising their right to be insured by Medicare (which they also paid into), and exercising their right to collect the earned-income tax credit (which they had to qualify for, and which anyone interested in reducing their tax liability–read “everyone with a brain”–would seek to collect if they could) “moochers.”
One wonders if he even knows what the word means. But hey, if Krugman wants to play this game, then perhaps someone can write a comprehensive article on high-income liberals–including a certain high-income liberal who writes for the New York Times–who inveigh against “tax cuts for the rich,” and yet, take advantage of those tax cuts as surely and as regularly as night follows day. It would make for an excellent story; after all, hypocrites like Krugman are a more compelling feature for a story than the “moochers” Krugman thinks deserve ridicule at his hands.