U.S. welfare spending hits $1 trillion, up 32% in last four years

Posted Oct 19, 2012 by Andrew Moran
Recently released figures from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and the Senate Budget Committee show that welfare spending has grown by 32 percent since 2008 and federal and state spending reached more than $1 trillion in 2011.
The congressional report showed that welfare is the single largest federal expense in the United States and is more than national defense, Social Security and Medicare. Taking into account federal (83 low-income assistance programs) and state welfare spending, the grand total is $1.03 trillion.
In the last four years, the number has ballooned due to President Barack Obama’s stimulus spending and the erosion of Americans’ incomes, which has allowed them to apply for social assistance. When the president took office, welfare obligations stood at $563 billion.
The costliest welfare program is Medicaid, which topped the list at $296 billion and increased from $82 billion in 2008. In the second spot is the $75 billion food stamps program that accounts for 10 percent of welfare spending.
Other social safety nets include:
- Child care payments
- Low-income assistance for AIDS patients
- Indian Health Service
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Adult Basic Education Grants to States
- Foster grandparents
- Weatherization Assistance Program
- Adoption Assistance
- Mathematics and Science Partnerships
The CRS report does not include entitlement programs to which taxpayers contribute, such as Social Security and Medicare. Federal welfare spending now accounts to close to a quarter (21 percent) of all federal expenditures
Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions issued a statement Thursday about the congressional report and called the numbers “astounding.” He labeled the administration’s belief that every $5 spent on food stamps brings in $10 in benefits to the economy as “ludicrous.”
“These astounding figures demonstrate that United States spends more on federal welfare than any other program in the federal budget. It is time to restore—not retreat from—the moral principles of the 1996 welfare reform. Such reforms, combined with measures to promote growth, will help both the recipient and the Treasury,” said the Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee.
“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 is about more than rescuing our finances. It’s about creating a more optimistic future for millions of struggling Americans.”
The Senate Budget committee report can be found here and the CRS report can be found here.