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SSI: The Black Hole of the Welfare State by Christopher M. Wright

Christopher M. Wright is a lawyer in Alexandria, Virginia, and publisher of The Deficit Letter and Activists Online.
Congress is finally reforming the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Unfortunately, the reforms currently under consideration fall far short of the dramatic overhaul that open-ended entitlement program needs.
SSI is one of the fastest growing welfare programs in the federal budget, and its costs are projected to accelerate by another 60 percent by 2000. SSI was originally designed to provide a safety net for low-income senior citizens, but it is now experiencing spectacular growth in recently eligible population groups, including drug addicts, the mentally ill, immigrants, and children. Government projections indicate that between 1990 and 2000 the number of immigrants on SSI will have grown fivefold and the number of drug addicts and alcoholics eightfold.
Many of the House Republican proposals, such as ending SSI for immigrants, are sensible, but they are insufficient to cap SSI’s skyrocketing costs. Some of the SSI reforms recommended in this study include the following: (1) terminating automatic cost-of-living increases for SSI, (2) eliminating lump-sum payments to SSI recipients, (3) ending all childhood disability benefits, (4) creating an enrollment cap, (5) scaling back mental impairment benefits, and (6) ultimately privatizing disability insurance.
Over the past several years, the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) has been plagued by scandal and exploding costs for taxpayers. Enacted 20 years ago primarily to provide a supplement to Social Security retirement benefits for low-income seniors, SSI has experienced phenomenal, unanticipated growth in program enrollment and dollar outlays. Currently, populations that were once marginal to the primary mission of SSI–such as drug addicts, alcoholics, children, and immigrants–are swelling the ranks of SSI, and their numbers are expected to increase (Figure 1). Meanwhile, the percentage of aged Americans on the rolls has been dropping (Figure 2). SSI is a troubling case study in how federal entitlements continually expand beyond their original mission. Today, SSI is one of Washington’s primary fiscal black holes.
The combined federal expenditures of SSI and its sister program, Disability Insurance (DI), are now $55.3 billion.(1) Disability has become the fourth largest area of federal entitlement spending after Social Security retirement, Medicare, and Medicaid.(2)
And SSI’s costs have just begun to escalate. The Clinton budget for fiscal year 1996 projects that federal expenditures for SSI alone will grow by over 60 percent by FY 2000.(3) That will make SSI larger than Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), food stamps, subsidized housing, the earned income tax credit, and all other forms of public assistance except Medicaid.(4)

The Great Transformation: From the Welfare State to the Imperial Police State

The transition to a police state…

The United States has experienced the biggest political upheaval in its recent history:  the transformation of a burgeoning welfare state into a rapidly expanding, highly intrusive and deeply entrenched police state, linked to the most developed technological innovations.

by James Petras

The ‘Great Transformation’ occurred exclusively from above, organized by the upper echelons of the civil and military bureaucracy under the direction of the Executive and his National Security Council. 
The ‘Great Transformation’ was not a single event but a process of the accumulation of powers, via executive fiats, supported and approved by compliant Congressional leaders.  At no time in the recent and distant past has this nation witnessed the growth of such repressive powers and the proliferation of so many policing agencies engaged in so many areas of life over such a prolonged period of time (a time of virtually no internal mass dissent).  Never has the executive branch of government secured so many powers to detain, interrogate, kidnap and assassinate its own citizens without judicial restraint.
Police state dominance is evident in the enormous growth of the domestic security and military budget, the vast recruitment of security and military personnel, the accumulation of authoritarian powers curtailing individual and collective freedoms and the permeation of  national cultural and civic life with the almost religious glorification of the agents and agencies of militarism and the police state as evidenced at mass sporting and entertainment events.


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