It would be interesting to know how many of the people receiving government benefits will vote for the incumbent president. Is this an election issue? The answer is elusive but there are people who believe those receiving government benefits tend to vote for a liberal who believes in a welfare state.

The number of people receiving government benefits was mentioned in Tuesday’s debate between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney. Public-sector benefits have grown under President Obama. The Wall Street Journal in its Oct. 18 issue published a commentary by Phil Gramm, former senator, and Michael Solon, both of whom are with the US Policy Metrics. They asked the question,“Can government benefits turn an election?”

In 1980 and 1992 only 3 percent of the American labor force drew disability benefits from the government. Today it is 6 percent. During the past four years, due to aggressive promotion of food stamps, the number of recipients has grown by 18.5 million to 47 million. More people have been given extended periods of unemployment insurance, up to 99 weeks, according to Gramm and Solon.

The federal government’s 120 means-tested programs today provide $1 trillion in benefits. “The spending for these programs has grown more than two times faster during the Obama administration than in any other periods in American history,” according to the Journal.

With the massive growth of government  benefits the last four years, it is a concern of many hard-working Americans who see runaway benefits as an issue, especially from a president who always had socialistic leanings. There is no question that the poor economy and unemployment have resulted in more applicants for benefits. President Obama said during the debate that when we get out of our wars, the money saved will go to programs to boost the economy. The problem with that is that the federal government has been borrowing money to wage our wars.

The benefit increase did not help Obama’s party members that much in the elections of 2010 when six Democratic senators lost their seats and Republicans picked up 63 seats in the House. The increase in benefits was substantial in Obama’s first two years and have continued to grow the last two years.

The benefits-vote issue is a factor in the November election. How big of a factor it is, that’s the question.