Americans are suffering from a growing dependence on big government.

In fact, one in five Americans now depends on Uncle Sam for assistance, according to new Heritage Foundation research.

For the last 10 years, The Heritage Foundation has published the Index of Dependence on Government to highlight the dangers of America’s increasing dependence on government programs.

The 2012 report paints a grim picture, as Heritage’s Bill Beach explains:

Today, more people than ever before—67.3 million Americans, from college students to retirees to welfare beneficiaries—depend on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid, or other assistance once considered to be the responsibility of individuals, families, neighborhoods, churches, and other civil society institutions.

This growing dependency has two major causes: 1) increased government spending on dependence-creating programs, and 2)  a shrinking number of taxpayers who pay for the programs.

In 2010, the United States hit an ominous milestone as nearly half of all citizens paid no federal income tax.

The average individual who relies on Washington receives benefits valued at $32,748, more than the nation’s average disposable personal income of $32,446. In 2011, 70 percent of the federal government’s budget goes to assistance programs that further dependence.

In addition to creating a nation of citizens dependent on government, these programs hurt the nation’s financial situation. Beach, who directs Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis, writes:

Not only did the federal government effectively take over half of the U.S. economy and expand public-sector debt by more than all previous governments combined, it also oversaw a second year of enormous expansion in total government debt at the federal level. Much of that growth in new debt can be traced to programs that encourage dependence.

The problems are clear. America must take drastic measures. The Heritage Foundation has created a plan that will do just that.

Heritage’s Saving the American Dream plan offers policy solutions to fix the debt, cut spending, reform entitlements, and restore prosperity, allowing Americans to succeed and thrive without dependence on government.

What do you think must be done to keep American from sliding further into dependency?

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