On Monday, conservative right-wing zealot Sean Hannity paused his public fellating of Donald Trump and explained why it was totally cool that he received millions of dollars in government assistance and personally benefited from the “big government” and “welfare state” he publicly rails against.
“It is ironic that I am being attacked for investing my personal money in communities that badly need such investment and in which, I am sure, those attacking me have not invested their money,” Hannity wrote on his website. “The fact is, these are investments that I do not individually select, control, or know the details about; except that obviously I believe in putting my money to work in communities that otherwise struggle to receive such support.”
Hannity was responding to a report by The Guardian that showed he used government-insured mortgage loans to purchase some 877 properties valued at more than $90 million. Despite earning a reported $36 million per year, over the past decade Hannity repeatedly used government assistance to purchase real estate and rental housing for people who live in low-income areas.
Let there be no mistake: This is welfare.
Take Hannity’s two properties in Georgia, for instance. In 2014, Hannity bought properties in Perry and Brunswick, Ga., for $22.7 million. Hannity borrowed $17.9 million of the money through a program under the National Housing Act, created by the Obama administration. As part of the program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development guarantees the loans up to a certain amount. If the owner rents out the properties to low-income families, the government guarantees a larger percentage of the loans. Since Trump took office, HUD has increased the loan guarantees.
But of course, someone as rich as Hannity wouldn’t need those guarantees, right?
Yet, since Ben Carson became HUD secretary, Hannity has taken out new loans for higher amounts ($22.9 million) through HUD for the Georgia apartment complexes. More interestingly, Carson now has the right to personally allow Hannity to convert the low-income apartments to luxury condominiums. Apparently Hannity’s greed is bigger than his head or his ego. Well ... maybe not his head, but you catch my drift.
You know that thing I just said about “more interestingly”? Forget about that. Here is the most interesting part: To purchase those properties, Hannity used a collection of shell companies that listed him as 100 percent owner but concealed his name. Many of the properties were bought at a discount because Hannity capitalized off the foreclosure crisis while publicly blaming Obama for it.
Although incentivizing rich people to invest in poorer communities sounds like a logical way to use taxpayer money, Hannity has long cast the idea of using taxpayer money or big government to help the poor in racist terms. Like the time he asked a black caller if he was voting for Obama so he could get an “Obama phone.”
But nothing highlights Hannity’s hypocrisy like this clip from his show in 2012:
When discussing people with an entitlement mindset, Hannity told a caller:
I have a responsibility in my life to take care of my business and that means I’ve gotta pay my bills. And I’m not going to change my mindset. I don’t want a thing from the government. Nothing ...
I would never want to be on a government housing program. I would never want to be on food stamps. I would never want the government to step in so I could keep my home.
Sean Hannity is a liar.
But this is par for the course for conservatives. They are quick to disparage big government and entitlements, except when it benefits them personally. They never refer to farm subsidies or corporate tax exemptions as “welfare.” They don’t disparage tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.
Conservatives’ discussions of entitlements are always focused on immigrants and minorities, but when it comes to all government benefits, white people are the biggest beneficiaries. A 2017 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that the percentage of white people lifted out of poverty by government programs is 44 percent, while the percentage is 35 percent for nonwhite minorities.
There is no such thing as “welfare.” A government subsidy is a government subsidy. And when it comes to big-government money, white people are the ones who benefit.
Ninety-seven percent of U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster payments go to white farmers. Even in counties where people of color are the majority, researchers estimate that at a minimum, almost 95 percent of agriculture subsidies go to white farmers. Blacks receive fewer small-business loans than equally qualified white borrowers. Black businesses get disproportionately fewer government contracts than white-owned businesses.
And while a larger percentage of black people receive poverty assistance, white people make up 40 percent of the population of SNAP (food stamp) recipients, while black people are 25.7 percent.
Contrary to what Hannity and Fox News would have you believe, the typical recipient of government poverty assistance is poor and white. In fact, according to The Atlantic, a larger percentage of white people also want more government assistance, and people who get government dollars are more likely to vote Republican.
So despite the negative stereotype, the welfare state largely consists of white people. People who voted for Trump are more likely to receive welfare. People like Sean Hannity. Which leads to the most important question:
Can you buy a “Make America Great Again” hat with food stamps?