Welfare In America: A $1 Trillion Tab And Rising
By STEPHEN MOORE
Republicans in Congress are being accused of fighting a “war on the war on poverty,” in part because of a tiny cut in the food stamps program last week. Democrats charge that these “cuts” will take food from the mouths of hungry children, and they claim this is an example of how Congress has shred the safety net for the poor.
Never mind that this is the food aid program that has tripled in cost and doubled in participation in just the last decade. Even during the economic recovery, the number of recipients — one in seven Americans — continues to grow.
Federal budget data confirm that rising enrollment and cost is the real untold story of almost all welfare programs in America today.
Just 18 years ago Republicans and Clinton Democrats joined together to pass landmark legislation to “end welfare as we know it.” But today, welfare has been redesigned and expanded, not reformed.
The traditional cash welfare program, once known as AFDC, has shrunk — thanks in part to strict work requirements. But the new-age welfare is a conglomeration of dozens of income-support programs — some aren’t even labeled welfare — as generous and costly as ever.
In 2011, the latest year for which we have complete spending data, federal outlays on all means-tested welfare programs targeted for the poor hit $746 billion, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service.
But this doesn’t include two of the fastest-growing taxpayer-funded cash subsidies: unemployment insurance and disability, which are not based on one’s income level, so are not considered anti-poverty programs. That’s another $250 billion a year. All told, federal income transfer programs (not including Social Security and Medicare) have hit $1 trillion. (more…)