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  • Morning Bell: Welfare Spending Shattering All-Time Highs

    It’s been a pretty big year for welfare—and a new report shows welfare is bigger than ever.

    The Obama Administration turned a giant spotlight on the welfare system in July when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proclaimed it had the authority to gut the work requirements from the welfare reform that had helped lift so many people out of poverty after 1996.

    This morning, a new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) shows the staggering reality of the growing welfare state—echoing Heritage’s own research that reveals welfare spending is approaching the $1 trillion mark.

    Roughly 100 million people—one-third of the U.S. population—receive aid from at least one means-tested welfare program each month. Average benefits come to around $9,000 per recipient. If converted to cash, means-tested welfare spending is more than five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the United States.

    Despite the fact that welfare spending was already at record levels when he took office, President Obama has increased federal means-tested welfare spending by more than a third. Benefits under “means-tested” programs are calculated based on a recipient’s means to support himself; in other words, they are intended to assist low-income Americans. The character of this aid is hand-out more than hand-up. Able-bodied recipients rarely are required to work or prepare for work to receive aid.

    At the beginning of this year, only four of the 80-plus federal welfare programs had work requirements; the Obama Administration has now suspended the work requirements in two of these. After the Obama Administration suspended the work requirement from the food stamp program in 2009, the number of people on food stamps doubled.

    The more than 80 federal means-tested aid programs provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to low-income people. Here’s how the spending breaks down:

    Some might argue that this is a reasonable, temporary response to the recession, but Obama seeks a permanent increase in the size of the welfare state.

    According to the President’s budget plans for fiscal year 2013, means-tested welfare will not decline as the recession ends, but will continue to grow rapidly for the next decade. Overall, President Obama plans to spend $12.7 trillion on means-tested welfare over the next decade.

    Welfare spending has long passed the amount spent on defense. In 1993, welfare spending exceeded defense spending for the first time since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In subsequent years, the ratio of welfare to defense spending averaged about $1.33 to $1. Obama’s spending plans would inflate this disparity: By 2022, there will be $2.33 in federal and state welfare spending for every $1 spent on national defense.

    Needless to say—but we’ll say it anyway—Obama’s big spending plans will result in ruinous and unsustainable budget deficits. These deficits are, in part, the result of dramatic, permanent increases in means-tested welfare. An important step in reducing the federal deficit would be to return welfare spending to pre-recession levels.

    Doubling the welfare rolls, handing out benefits without any work requirements, and spending twice as much on welfare as we spend on defense: This is Obama’s new normal.

    Quick Hits:

    • After Tuesday’s debate was over, President Obama shared more information about the terrorist attack in Libya with the man who questioned him about the lack of security.
    • Last week’s surprisingly low number of applications for U.S. unemployment benefits was an aberration, as Heritage’s James Sherk predicted. The latest figures showed an increase of 46,000 to 388,000.
    • The troubled battery maker A123 “won a private meeting and phone call with Obama, a trade mission slot and $250 million in stimulus money before it went bankrupt,” reports The Washington Guardian.
    • Newsweek will no longer print its magazine after the end of this year. It is moving to an online-only format.
    • The House of Representatives filed a suit challenging the President’s use of executive privilege in the Fast and Furious scandal. The Justice Department is now seeking to get that lawsuit dismissed.
    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    33 Responses to Morning Bell: Welfare Spending Shattering All-Time Highs

    1. Frank says:

      This nation has become an out-of-control welfare/warfare/police state heading quickly towards bankruptcy. With both welfare & warfare taking up the vast majority of the Federal Budget & with us borrowing 43 cents out of every Federal Dollar spent logic would dictate that we will probably need to CUT 43 cents out of every welfare program & defense program to balance the budget! Bringing the troops home & closing 800+ bases in 120+ nations around the world (a left over from the Cold War which ended long ago) & not being the world's policeman any more or going into any more undeclared & Unconstitutional wars would help a lot towards cutting defense by 43%. But we'd still need to cut welfare also by 43%. We need to phase out/privatize Social Security & Medicare. Those in the system can continue the same. Those 55-64 can elect to stay in or opt out with a full refund to spend as they want on private plans. Those under 55 get a full refund & can spend as they want on private plans. All welfare programs run by the Federal government should be block granted to the States & then phased out on the Federal level allowing the States to continue them on a State level, if they so choose, funded instead with higher State taxes.

      Otherwise the once great USA implodes financially very soon which will result in even more pain & suffering by all with probably an associated global depression.

      • Frank, you are right that we have to cut the federal budget over the next FEW years–beginning NOW–and cut it dramatically. And you are right that we have to end our "World Policeman" attitude and realize the Cold War ended in 1989 and get rid of its domestic and foreign infrastructure.

        But we are where we are in part because as part of the neo-cold war strategy we have exported our jobs and industries to the third world–mostly China. Until we bring back our businesses and jobs from foreing companies we will continue to decline, and decline dramatically. End free trade with any country which does not have a similar living standard to the US!!!

    2. Fastflyer says:

      What happens when they means test Social Security? Will the American support Social Security as a welfare program?

    3. Daryn Kent-Duncan says:

      That's 33% of the country. Romney wasn't that far off with 47%.

      • Actually Romney's numbers are very accurate if you count the % of the population that receives government assistance in any form.

        • Assuming you're right just for the sake of argument, does that mean Romney should not care about anyone who gets any sort of government-based assistance whatsoever? Anyone who has ever been on unemployment benefits, for instance? Disability? They are people who feel entitled and don't take responsibility for their life?

    4. sdfultz says:

      I understand that this huge increase in welfare payments is a huge pool on America's budget, but I also understand that the reason for this is because of the economic crash caused by the Bush policies. That event was like an avalanche, we all heard the rumbling of the falling snow , but nobody knew the effect(market investments, housing values) until everyone was accounted for (increased unemployment, welfare) and all the bodies were recovered, did we know where we stand. For me this begs the question of continued spending on war and nation building, military spending. For me this begs the question, are we so scared of the world that we would rather fool ourselves into thinking that military spending keeps us safe. If we're going to spend money, let's spend it on ourselves as we keep our selves fed and housed, at least strong enough to fight because everyone knows that an Army moves on its belly. If we take care of our selves we can fight our way back to prosperity and also fight if the Chinese or Al queata attacks our neighborhoods, Lord knows we all got guns!

      • Jill says:

        Bush was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The mortgage meltdown came to us compliments of Bill Clinton's Community Reinvestment act. and deregulation of banks by Billie boy.

        • Bill Clinton's Community Reinvestment act? It was passed in 1977. Besides, no one in their right mind says with a straight face that low income lending played a significant role in the crash. But keep blaming poor people if that's your thing.

    5. John C. Davidson says:

      I'm a senior and know there is no money left to help old folks like me. Help agencies now in the denial stage.

      • kristina says:

        our seniors should be taken care of they have paid into this jacked up system all there lives, but the rest need mass cuts mass, or we will watch the dollar collapse

    6. toledofan says:

      I think it is just despiciable for the Democratic Party to promote, support and implement policies that keep Americans under their thumb, just for political reasons. The entire party has promoted a legacy of failure for so many; especially minorities and they clearly could care less whether people live in squaller, projects or low income housing for their entire lives. When you take a panoramic view of the past 50 years and look at the ruined lives the Democrats have forced on people in the guise of caring, it's just pathetic and just like everything else their only plan is to throw more money at the probelm.

      • Jill says:

        Allan West calls it paid slavery. Small handouts for lots of votes. the 21st century plantaion. 4o trillion has been spent on the war on poverty and it is all a waste.

    7. Ellen says:

      A large part of the growing welfare system is illegitimacy. For over a decade, 40% of all babies born in the US were born into Medicaid/welfare. In the past couple of years, this has grown to 50%. How can anyone wonder why welfare is out of control? Welfare no longer works as originally intended. It has decimated the black family and is the root of every major issue in our nation (failing education system, overloaded prison system, unsustainable expenses, lost morality, and illegal immigration). It is time to stop paying for babies. This is the 21st century. We have many options for birth control and options for an unwanted/unplanned pregnancy. The parents need to be held responsible for babies they create, not taxpayers.

    8. And gas is $4 a gallon…

    9. Bobbie says:

      Proof of how much Mr. Obama believes in self reliance. Make government dependency easiest to access. What an illusionary hero. Americans will stand free and independent from endless applications to government resources under honorable leadership. American women can't stand fakes, liars or ones who are all deviant.

      • kristina says:

        the government has taken the role of a man in the single parent household women flock to liberals cause they help pay and take care of there children but what life is it we offer our children when welfare and hopping the government tosses you some extra every now and then is our way of life! freedom isn't free and the dollar will fall….stock up

    10. Susan Peter says:

      This kind of expenditure break down should immediately become a part of the solution to Mitt Romney's "47%" troubles. Separating means tested welfare from Medicare, Social Security, the Miltary, etc., gives Governor Romney some concrete figures with which to work and could/should be of immediatee help. Thank you….I am a fan of these daily Morning Bell messages.

      Susan Peter

    11. ron hansing says:

      Entitlements are a cruel joke on the poor. One third of Americans are helpless? Who will lose the most when the safety net becomes a basketball net?

      Who will suffer the most when the fishing net becomes the capital dome net?

      It is not in the interest of the poor to become dependent and enslaved and to suport these programs.

      Do the poor really think that they will live off the fat of the land after the Marxists take over? They will demand that they work… and they will work in the dirtiest jobs… if they want to eat.

      The poor are cannon folder for the dicatators.

    12. Linda says:

      This is false.. In no way should medicare/Social Security be added into the welfare mix. People paid into them to receive when they are retired or disabled. So I would say these totals are horribly inaccurate..

      • tnemptynester says:

        Medicaid pays for low income citizens health care includingt child delivery, pre-natal care, health care for the child and mother. Welfare pays for the low income citizens food stamps, free school lunches, free cell phones, public assisted housing, assistance in heating during the winter and other assistance if needed.

        Why would those on welfare what to get a job if they are better off financially by living on government assistance and now that Obama's administration has changed the qualifications required in seeking employment for Welfare benefits there will probably be more applicants applying for Welfare and Medicaid.

    13. Ben C. says:

      The War on Poverty has worked so well Detroit Michigan is thriving – NOT! It is beyond comprehension to imagine the amount of money spent on "welfare" and to see its results. There are generations of welfare dependent people who know how to use the system to the max in Detroit. And those who really need a helping hand are left in the cold. Those who receive the handouts carry signs declaring welfare a "right." It will take generations to get the welfare recipients off the federal plantation if it is even possible. I doubt it.

    14. Steve Padilla says:

      Hello, how exactly is "If converted to cash, means-tested welfare spending is more than five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the United States" defined. I am really interested and cannot find any definition of how that amount eliminates poverty. Thank you.

    15. Ken Watson says:

      Not a surprise at all but Heritage and all like minded institutions and individuals have to get off this philosophy of aid to the poor as a legitimate aim and function of government. At the least one should understand that the Federal government CANNOT be involved in any such enterprise and that includes pensions (Social Security), medicine and "nutrition assistance". No, no, no, no and no. Why? I hope this report, latest in a long and destructive trend, would make that obvious but just in case…. this perverse explosion reveals that redistribution of wealth is violative of natural law. The condition of the recipients is immaterial. It is immoral to draw wealth from one citizen for the maintenance of another. No, this does not mean veterans or even retired civil servants (though perhaps it should). Those payouts are not giveaways but payment for services rendered. Relief of poverty is the business of churches and other private charities, more than that of personal aid from one to another but ABOVE ALL, it is the responsibility of the individual so effected to improve his circumstances and those of his dependents. Already we are at the point where government plunder has replaced honest trade for a vast fraction of our citizenry, even on moral grounds! Yes, they are adamantly defiant and protective of their lucre. They are owed. There is only one cure for that situation. Hunger. That therapy will be applied as natural law reasserts her will. The only practical choice is whether it will be the relatively gradual effect of reform, remanding these functions at least to the states, or suddenly and universally by currency and government collapse. And you know it. Those who claim otherwise are only distracting you while the plumbing is stolen from your house.

    16. Mike says:

      As long as we have public aid and people aren't contributing, our country will be in debt.Get rid of obama and public aid will lessen. Only people who are truly disabled should receive public assistance. Also, get rid of the earned income tax credit.

    17. Casey Carlton says:

      Biblically, the apostle Paul says those who will not work shall not eat. Think about it. Why encourage a deadbeat to continue being a deadbeat by doling out what really amount to gifts? It makes no sense.

    18. Ron W. Smith says:

      I wholeheartedly agree that a work requirement for welfare recipients is essential. What is more, the work requirement shouldn't be for the kind of work that makes being on welfare acceptable to the recipients of welfare. The object for those recipients should be to get off welfare as soon as possible, the work requirement and term allowed for full benefits both promoting quick exit.

      I happen also to think much the same about incarceration and correctional systems. The United States has just under 5% of the world's population but almost 25% of the world's incarcerated population We imprison or jail too many people, so we end up spending too much on corrections everywhere in the u.S. Part of the solution, just part, is to make being in the klink a distasteful experience which requires both a work requirement and adequate room and board payments from those incarcerated. Those two should make quick exit desirable.

      Criteria for receipt of welfare payments and for incarceration need thorough re-imagining in the U.S. So, too, duration in each. Welfare and Corrections have become so boggy in principle that reform of them would produce a fiscal payoff that could benefit other important needs in our deeply indebted country.

      One more thing. The term "National Defense" is yet again used in the above article in such a way that there's some confusion about how much we're actually spending in this country on all that is RELATED to National Defense. We're now spending almost exactly the amount of our annual deficit when those related expenses are added to National Defense–Homeland Security, Foreign Aid Designed to Gain the Cooperation of Other Countries, Nation Building, and Veterans Affairs. Our Foreign Policy decisions over the years have made and kept us SuperPower on Call, a very expensive internationalism with arguable benefit compared to cost.

    19. Ted says:

      sorry to poke a hole in your article but $1trillion divided by 100million recipients is $10,000 in a year or $833 per month per recipient. not the $9000/mo you suggested.

    20. Mary Shell says:

      Social Security is not welfare!
      My husband and I contributed to it.

      Service related benefits are not welfare!

      • Bob Marshall says:

        I agree! Until Social Security was placed under general funds they was sufficient funds to keep it going until as far as i can find until 2050. What was done with these funds may never been known. The date at which full Social security benefits would be received was raised from 65 to 66 in my case. It may need to be raised again. Someone needs to be in control of who is receiving these payments. Origionally, this was a program intended for senior citizens to help in their old age.

    21. linda stanley says:

      I get a little sick of the people who say the state of basically everything in the US now is caused by President Bush… He may not have made every right decision BUT how many other Presidents had 9-11 thrown at them? This was a crisis of such magnitude that Im not convinced too many presidents would have reacted to differently or better. If we keep cutting our defense budgets, we will see a lot more tragedies of the same sort right here in our own backyards! if we keep Obama in office we will be a socialist country before his next term ends… then he will disregard our Constitution as he has so many other times, make new rules that allow him another term.. We should all be scared for Obama to stay in office. look at the things he did knowing he wanted to be re elected, can you imagine what he will do knowing this is the last term?

    22. Graeme Burrell says:

      Any reporter/blogger/politician/'economist' etc. who talks about welfare spending – or any other government figures for that matter – in NOMINAL terms is a propagandist who is trying to mislead the public for their own vested interests.

      The only way that you can make *valid* historical and/or international fiscal comparisons is by using %/GDP or Real Terms.

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