…at least according to Peggy Noonan, approvingly quoted by Greg Mankiw:
Neither party ever gets it quite right, the balance between the taxed and the needy, the suffering of one sort and the suffering of another. You might say that in this both parties are equally cold and equally warm, only to two different classes of citizens.
Now, as we all know, the U.S. is not Denmark or Sweden (even if the Swedes generally like to see themselves as the better Americans and the Danish party system these days in many ways is structured along the value dimension instead of the economic dimension, making it even more American than the U.S. party system), but to a Scandinavian this juxtaposing of “taxpayers” and “needy” as separate groups is misleading. Even in the U.S. most of the needy pay some form of taxes, and taxpayers are happy to rely on a number of publicly financed services and transfers.
What is true, is that even the Scandinavian welfare states depend on efficient production and if the welfare states were purely redistributive, they and the economics would be in severe crisis. (Scandinavian reading visitors are referred to Andreas Bergh)