Welfare State Grows by Nearly 19% Under Obama – to Almost $1 Trillion a Year
(CNSNews.com) – Federal and state welfare assistance has grown almost 19 percent under President Barack Obama, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation.
All in all, there are 79 means-tested federal welfare programs, at a cost approaching $1 trillion annually, said Heritage Senior Research Fellow Robert Rector.
Rector conducted a comprehensive analysis of spending for government assistance programs, ranging from food, education and childcare programs to housing and medical care.
In his report, Rector said the increase in federal means-tested welfare spending during Obama’s first two years in office was two-and-a-half times greater than any previous increase in federal welfare spending in U.S. history, after adjusting for inflation.
Rachel Sheffield, a research associate at The Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, told CNSNews.com that this kind of pay out can not be maintained.
“It’s a huge amount of money we’re spending on these programs and our debt is growing,” she said. “It’s not sustainable.”
According to the report, titled “Examining the Means-tested Welfare State,” in FY 2011 the federal government dolled out $717.1 billion on welfare programs, while states spent $210.1 billion.
The 79 federal programs include:
-- 12 programs providing food aid;
-- 12 programs funding social services;
-- 12 educational assistance programs;
-- 11 housing assistance programs;
-- 10 programs providing cash assistance;
-- 9 vocational training programs;
-- 7 medical assistance programs;
-- 3 energy and utility assistance programs; and,
-- 3 child care and child development programs.
Since FY 2007, state welfare spending has stayed relatively flat, averaging $190.2 billion per year. Federal spending, however, has increased 53 percent, going from $468.7 billion in 2007 ($717.1 billion) to $717.1 billion in 2011.
Heritage’s Sheffield said the fastest growing welfare program is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as the food stamp program. As of May 2012, 46.5 million Americans are participating in SNAP, accordingto the Department of Agriculture, a 2.4 percentage increase from a year ago.
According to Rector, the government has spent $19.8 trillion (in inflation-adjusted 2011 dollars) on means-tested welfare since President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty began in the 1960s.
“The War on Poverty has cost three times as much as all other wars combined,” he said.
The increase in the welfare state shows no signs of slowing down, according to the Heritage report.
President Obama’s budget for FY 2013 estimates that total welfare spending will increase to $1.57 trillion by 2022, largely due to new entitlements under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Star Parker, a leading champion for welfare reform in the 1990s, said the size and scope of benefits programs to the poor is “unfathomable” at nearly 80 programs and a cost of $1 trillion annually.
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