Report Shows Welfare Spending Up 32% During Obama Presidency
A dramatic increase in welfare spending over the last 4 years has drawn the attention of Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee who says a new Congressional report, linked here, shows a 32% increase during the Obama administration.
According to Sessions,"This study underscores a fundamental shift in welfare, as it is now moving away from a temporary fix to a more permanent crutch." He also stated that, "welfare assistance should be seen as temporary whenever possible and the goal must be to help more of our fellow citizens attain gainful employment and financial independence."
This new Congressional Research Service report shows that welfare spending reached $746 billion dollars in 2011. State spending on those same programs brings the combined total to $1.03 trillion dollars.
This includes over 80 programs that are primarily designed to help low-income Americans. This jump in spending is in part due to the stimulus bill back in 2009, but it also has to do with the fact that more people are qualifying for welfare assistance in this weak economy. This now makes welfare the single biggest expense in federal spending, topping Social Security and basic defense spending.
Medicaid, which is one of the programs under welfare, is the federal and state health programs for the poor. It accounts for $296 billion dollars of the federal spending. That's 40% of total spending on low-income assistance. Back in 2008 that number was only $82 billion dollars. Next is the food stamp program, which has nearly doubled since 2008. Since President Obama took office, 15 million more people joined the food stamp program, a total of 47 million people now receive food stamp benefits. In 2011, food stamps accounted for $75 billion dollars or 10% of welfare spending.
The rest is derived from programs like SNAP, WIC, Child Care & Housing Vouchers, Pell Grants, Community Health Centers, Head Start, Foster Care, School Lunches and Title 1 education. SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that used to be called food stamps; LIHEAP is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; WIC is the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program; and Pell Grants provide assistance for college costs.
Sessions' Budget Committee staff said that at current projections, the 10 biggest welfare programs would cost $8.3 trillion dollars over the next decade.
But, Richard Kogan, senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said that while the dollar amounts for low-income assistance are growing, they still represent about the same amount of the budget when examined over the long run. He said the costs may have spiked during the recession, but are projected to drop back to more normal levels once the economy recovers. "In short, whatever one thinks about the merits or costs of these programs, other than Medicaid, they are contributing nothing to long-run budgetary pressures," he said.
Ironically, the study was released as Obama and Romney argue over the size and direction of government assistance programs. During this past Tuesday's debate, Romney criticized the President for overseeing a 50 percent increase in the number of people on food stamps.
This report obviously speaks to the issue of unemployment and how more and more people can no longer afford to provide for their families and now rely on welfare services. These increasing expenses are not sustainable for the federal government, and something must be done in order to help lower the unemployment rate and boost the economy. It only makes sense that with more job creation, fewer people will be relying on welfare and perhaps then we can cut the spending on these programs.
This report just shows how much this recession is actually effecting the American people.
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