At a town hall today, Paul Ryan said:
And so, this is what Mitt and I are talking about when we’re worried about more and more people becoming net dependent upon the government than upon themselves. Because by promoting more dependency, but not having jobs and economic growth, people miss their potential. We should not be measuring the progress of our social programs, of programs like food stamps based up on how many people receive them…. We don’t want a safety net that encourages more dependency because there is no economic growth behind it.
Again, what in the hell is he talking about? Who is "net dependent" on government? Low-income seniors are. But do they need to be taught a lesson, after working or raising children or both for 50 years? I really think that for political reasons he doesn't mean to say this.
He likely means, at heart, families on welfare. But the numbers don't remotely back him up. The number of families on TANF (i.e. welfare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is just 1.8 million or so. This is out of 114 million households. It's higher than before the great crash, yes, although not even by that much. In 2007, TANF supported 1.66 million families.
But importantly, 1.8 million is actually way, way down from the number of families receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC, the name for welfare before it was changed in the 1996 reform) in 1995, which was 4.87 million.
I might have thought that this starkly dramatic decrease in families on welfare would make right-wingers happy. But of course, the things I cited in the above graf are "facts," and conservatives kind of have a problem with those.
If he doesn't mean people on welfare, well, who else is "net dependent"? Military personnel, does he mean them?
No. He doesn't mean anything specific. This is just a device employed toward two ends. First, to rile up white people about black people and let their lurid imaginations roam. Second, to lay the groundwork for chopping Social Security and Medicare someday.
There is no massive government dependence. It's totally made up. Totally. Made. Up.