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Reducir la desigualdad y la pobreza en Estados Unidos

CAMBRIDGE – Con la asunción de un nuevo presidente y un nuevo Congreso en Estados Unidos en apenas seis meses, llegó la hora de repensar los programas del gobierno destinados a ayudar a los pobres. La temporada electoral actual ha reflejado una preocupación generalizada por la cuestión de la desigualdad. El foco correcto para lidiar con este problema es reducir la pobreza, no penalizar el éxito merecido.

El gobierno de Estados Unidos hoy invierte más de 600.000 millones de dólares al año en programas para ayudar a los pobres. Eso representa aproximadamente el 4% del PIB total de Estados Unidos. La mitad de esos desembolsos van a parar a programas de salud, incluidos Medicaid y los subsidios de seguro de salud bajo la Ley de Atención Médica Asequible de 2010 (conocida como Obamacare). La otra mitad están destinados a un rango complejo de programas que incluyen estampillas para alimentos, subsidios para la vivienda, el Crédito Fiscal por Ingreso Ganado y ayuda en efectivo.

Para poner ese 4% del PIB en perspectiva, el ingreso total del gobierno federal generado por el impuesto a la renta personal es inferior al 9% del PIB, lo que implica que casi la mitad se gasta en esos programas sujetos a condiciones de recursos. El gasto en esos programas también excede el gasto en defensa (3,3% del PIB) y el 3,3% del PIB que se invierte en todos los demás programas discrecionales no vinculados a la defensa.

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