Policy Shop: Cash Benefit Programs Are Not Really Government Spending

New post at Policy Shop. Excerpt:

Cash benefit programs are simply distributive institutions: they, along with our other economic institutions, determine which individuals get to spend money and how much. The government does not spend money on a cash benefit program, it just channels it to someone who spends it. The only coherent objection that can be raised against such a program is that the people the money is channeled to should not be entitled to spend it, that the money should actually be spent by other people. But this is a purely distributive argument. It is not a government spending argument, not even slightly. We should treat objections to cash benefit programs for what they actually are: complaints about the economic distribution that those programs usher in, not complaints about government spending.

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