I think helping the working poor gain access to the basic necessities is an admirable goal and certainly something that government should be doing. I don't even have a problem with the rich being taxed in order for this to occur -- the majority of the country agrees that a higher tax rate for those making over $250k a year is probably necessary in order to balance the budget and continue providing social services. I'm not for something like the 90% that it was under Eisenhower, but closer to 50% (I think after the Bush Tax Cuts it'll be around 39%, and something a bit higher would be ideal). It will benefit the entire country to have more consumers of the products which the poor will use the subsidization to purchase, so the only people who really lose out are the rich and they're making more than enough to survive as is.
Where I disagree with some basic principles of Socialism is the support for the lazy poor. If you can work, but choose not to, I don't think you deserve even a dime from your fellow citizens. Our policies should be aimed at making it easier for people to get jobs, supporting those who do work, and taking care of people who are incapable of supporting themselves/shouldn't have (people with extreme disabilities, certain medical conditions, and the elderly).
We've definitely moved in this direction thanks to the work of the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress, but what I find really depressing is how this has been perceived by the public. It's hard to deny that Republican policies were pro-business and the wealthy (Bush Tax Cuts, TARP, deregulation) while Democratic policies have been aimed at the poor and lower middle class. Both of these philosophies seemed to have failed the nation if approval ratings are any indication, because the Middle Class makes up the biggest chunk of the electorate, and nearly everything that is done is done at their expense or in no way benefits them. The Tea Party was born as a direct result from this.
I personally feel that Democratic politics make the most sense. Of course the Democrats are trying to help the people that actually need it, those who are firmly in the Middle and Upper Class don't really need help. My guess is that those in the Middle Class who are not happy with what they have are in revolt because they're being told by Conservative scare mongers that it isn't possible to help the disadvantaged and unfortunate without their quality of life being taken from them.
I think that this recession is defined by the anxiety of the Middle Class over a perceived treat to their current standard of living, not any perceptible dip in that standard. People are still surfing the internet, watching TV, and using their cell phones, they're simply afraid that off in the near future they won't be able to afford that lifestyle anymore, and that's what is driving the political and economic paranoia that's keeping consumer spending down and fueling the feeling of gross political disenfranchisement.
Socialism is simply the narrative that has been adopted to paint an apocalyptic future for individual liberties and economic progress as a result of Democratic achievements. There are those who are telling this story because they truly fear it as a possible outcome (which I don't think is realistic at this point in time), but I have a feeling that a small minority of influential politicians, lobbyists, and social commentators are disingenuous prophets who are motivated by a desire to protect the interests of the mega-wealthy.