"The term "welfare queen" is most often associated with Ronald Reagan who brought the idea to a national audience. During his 1976 presidential campaign, Reagan would tell the story of a woman from Chicago's South Side who was arrested for welfare fraud:
"She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000."Since Reagan never named a particular woman, the description can be viewed as an example of dramatic hyperbole. Critics Paul Krugman and Mark J. Green have argued that the story grossly exaggerates a minor case of welfare fraud.[need quotation to verify]
Reagan’s use of the term was related to a growing unease among New Right politicians about the expansion of the welfare apparatus. Touching on the cornerstones of American political philosophy (individualism and egalitarianism), the New Right sought to form a top-down coalition with big business and white working-class voters to undo the popular Great Society programs of the 1960s.
In response to Reagan's use of the term, Susan Douglas, a professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan, writes:
"He specialized in the exaggerated, outrageous tale that was almost always unsubstantiated, usually false, yet so sensational that it merited repeated recounting… And because his ‘examples’ of welfare queens drew on existing stereotypes of welfare cheats and resonated with news stories about welfare fraud, they did indeed gain real traction."