All this spending would perhaps be defensible if it was providing positive results. For example, while the U.S. leads the planet in defense spending, we boast the greatest military ever assembled, and this protects our global interests.
But the ever-expanding welfare state has had a perverse effect by encouraging single parenthood and endangering the American family. “When Johnson launched the War on Poverty, 7 percent of American children were born out of wedlock,” Rector, Bradley and Sheffield found. “Today, the number is 39 percent. As husbands left the home, the need for more welfare to support single mothers increased. The War on Poverty created a destructive feedback loop: Welfare promoted the decline of marriage, which generated a need for more welfare.”
Instead of increasing spending year after year, Washington ought to work to encourage stable families. After all, roughly 80 percent of all long-term poverty is in single-parent households. A simple wedding ceremony could lift two-thirds of those families out of poverty overnight.
The Heritage report marks the first time researchers were able to add up spending by all governments (federal, state and local) on all welfare programs. Policymakers finally have a clear picture just how much the War on Poverty has cost, and how much it is projected to cost in the future.
Before we shell out another $10 trillion in the years ahead, lawmakers should consider how much our country is wasting. Total welfare spending amounts to $28,000 per year for each lower-income family of four. For that kind of money, we ought to be able to eliminate poverty, and thus end welfare completely.
Something’s seriously wrong here. It’s time for Americans to demand accountability.