Who Are Americans? Interactive Exercises

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Who Benefits from Social Programs?

Almost all Americans benefit from public welfare programs at some point in their lives. The biggest public welfare programs are contributory programs like Social Security (retirement and old-age benefits) and Medicare. Programs that offer income maintenance benefits—including the TANF benefits that people sometimes refer to when they talk about “being on welfare”—are generally smaller and less expensive.

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1. According to the chart, how many people receive Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance? Medicare? Medicaid? Food stamps?
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2.
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How much does the federal government spend on unemployment compensation? Veterans benefits? Medical benefits?
3. Which group does the government spend more money on—the elderly, or poor families with children?
4. If contributory programs are paid for by contributions from the future recipients, why are they sometimes controversial?
5a.
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How will the Affordable Care Act of 2010 affect different groups of people? Consider the interactive graphic prepared by the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/24/us/politics/20100319-health-care-effect.html?ref=policy.

Choose one group’s profile to read from the choices on the left. Which group did you choose? How will this group be affected by the health insurance reform bill?
5b.
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Which groups were affected immediately by the health insurance reform bill? How?
5c.
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When will most of the provisions in the bill take affect? Which ones do you think are the most significant?

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