What Are Entitlement Programs?

I’m reading a letter signed by several university presidents who are lobbying the Congress not to implement any further cuts to education. This is, of course, a noble goal.

However, what they propose to cut instead are “entitlement programs” which are named in this letter as the main source of the federal deficit. Unless by entitlement programs they mean the military budget, I think there is something fishy here.

I still find the vocabulary of the US economy confusing. Can anybody help? What are these “entitlement programs” that university leaders are proposing to cut to save our universities?

29 thoughts on “What Are Entitlement Programs?

  1. The two big ones are medicaid (healthcare for those over 65) and social security (retirement payments). Not military. Other smaller ones are things like food stamps or SNAP as it is called now.


    1. So this is what our university leaders are asking to cut??? Retirement, medicaid, and food stamps?

      OK, this just doesn’t sound right. It sounds very right-wing but not right. Can it be?

      Ay yay yay.


  2. Social Security, Medicare, SNAP Benefits, WIC, and other programs like that are “entitlement programs”, named as such because if you meet certain standards, you’re entitled to access the funds/goods associated with them.
    And I must say, as a former U.S resident who was both a college student *and* a recipient of SNAP and SSI, I have to say, cutting those programs is a baaad idea. I can’t exactly be a stellar student if most of my time is occupied thinking about how I’ll keep from starving/being homeless. It’s a red herring, and you already mentioned the real program which sucks away most funding in this post.


    1. Some colleges (Harvard and Berkeley) have a reputation of being “military unfriendly” because they discouraged military recruiters from coming to campus, Berkeley because of pacifist reasons, Harvard because DADT was in place at the time, which meant the military didn’t cut muster as a place of employment that met Harvard’s standards of non-discrimination. So my guess would be welcoming military recruiters?


        1. Military recruiters also came to my high school, I remember. A law had just been passed which meant that they didn’t have to ask our parents’ permission to access our address and phone number from the school, so they were calling my house all the time because I got an unusually high score on one of those tests (I think it was the Compass test)
          Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased, and basically told them to sod off.


  3. Another proposal is to “reform the tax system”. Of course, it isn’t specified how it should be reformed and in view of the suggestion about the entitlement program cuts, I’m not very optimistic.

    Can’t the education be defended in a way that won’t deprive seniors of pensions and the unemployed of food stamps? Because, seriously, who wants to make this kind of choice???


  4. Entitlement programs are any benefits or rights that people receive due to legislation that was passed by Congress as opposed to “natural rights”. Besides those mentioned already they include Pell Grants, VA education benefits, Social Security, VA health benefits, agricultural subsidies,public housing programs, and many many more. As you can see “cutting entitlements” depends on just whose ox is being gored. Do you think these uni prezes would scream if there were no Pell grants and no VA education benefits?


      1. As I said, it depends on whose ox is being gored. Of course, they didn’t mean THEIR programs. THEIR’s aren’t entitlements, just somebody else’s entitlement. Let’s take the milk out of the diet of babies, but don’t touch the Pell Grants. After all, babies don’t vote. Let’s take the school lunches from kids whose parents can’t afford to pack lunches for them, but don’t touch the Pell Grants. After all elementary kids don’t vote. Etc,etc.


          1. The crazy thing is that Eisenhower (left office in January 1960) warned us about the domination of the government the “military-industrial complex”, Reagan destroyed the Soviet Union by luring them into Afghanistan and we follow the same path voluntarily with open eyes.


  5. Social Security is not an entitlement! Workers and employers pay into it over the course of their lifetimes. Where is the money going??


    1. The Social Security Trust Fund has been looted by Congress for decades to pay for cost overruns in other areas of the budget. Remember, the House originates all money bills and once Congress passes them, the President can only sign the bill and implement it or veto it. He can not spend money himself. Only Congress can order money spent. In other words, all the BS about a spendthrift Obama is just that. In fact for the past 10 years when Bush or Obama sent a budget bill to the Congress, it was increased by the House which was in Republican hands for 6 of those years. Both Bush and Obama are parsimonious cheap skates when compared to the House of Representatives.


  6. Looted by Congress is a ridiculous way of characterizing the Social Security system’s buying of government bonds. It is not possible to just let money sit idly, and government bonds are the safest place to put it, so far.


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