Missing Link Friday – The end of the age of entitlement?

In a speech at the Institute of Economic Affairs, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the the end of the age of entitlement. He followed up the speech with an interview for the ABC’s Lateline.

At Billablog, Hockey’s speech inspires a song while Patricia at Cafe Whispers pens a poem about Tony Abbott’s Magic Pudding Budget Plan.

Phillip Coorey at the Sydney Morning Herald writes that Hockey’s approach lacks “consistency with much of what the Coalition has said and done more broadly, suggesting there may be an internal struggle going on.”

Hockey told Lateline’s Tony Jones that: “We need to compare ourselves with our Asian neighbours where the entitlements programs of the state are far less than they are in Australia.” Blogger Matt Cowgill did exactly that:

Hockey could eliminate all social spending other than health and old age assistance and we’d still be at 10.1% of GDP, well above Korea, a country he mentions as a benchmark. In other words, even if we scrapped all help for people with disabilities (the support pension as well as in-kind help), got rid of Newstart, stopped spending anything on helping people find work, and eliminated all housing assistance, we’d still be devoting more than our Asian neighbours to social spending. That leaves health care and old age pensions as the only place left to cut to get down to the sort of levels that Hockey identified. The safety net as we know it would be a thing of the past after cuts of that size.

In the United States, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney claims that President Obama has been replacing America’s merit-based society with an Entitlement Society. “We will have created a society that contains a sizable contingent of long-term jobless, dependent on government benefits for survival”, says Romney. “Government dependency can only foster passivity and sloth.”

However a recent analysis by the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities challenges Romney’s view showing “that more than 90 percent of the benefit dollars that entitlement and other mandatory programs spend go to assist people who are elderly, seriously disabled, or members of working households — not to able-bodied, working-age Americans who choose not to work.”

According to Joe Klein at Time, the Romney campaign has had second thoughts about attacking the ‘entitlement society. Apparently “an entitlement society didn’t sound like such a bad deal” writes Klein. “People like entitlements. They may not like entitlements for poor people, but they love Social Security and Medicare.”

Recently Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was asked if the Coalition was planning to cut any welfare programs. “We’re not planning to do any of that. What we want to cut back is wasteful and unnecessary government programs,” he said.

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2 Responses to Missing Link Friday – The end of the age of entitlement?

  1. conrad says:

    I think Hockey has decided that it would be a more fun election if Labor actually had a chance. It was also curious that Turnbull seemed to try and take some of the focus off him by noting that the Liberals were as good at creating new forms of welfare as Labor.

  2. Bill says:

    Many thanks for the link.

    Joe just doesn’t think things through. Nice bloke, but out of his depth in the treasury portfolio. Whatever one may think of Turnbull, he’s the natural choice for shadow treasurer. Abbott’s decision to hide him away in Communications is another indication that he’s more interested in convenient politics than sound policy.

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