A new Congressional Research Service report is out today with numbers showing a dramatic increase in welfare spending over the last 4 years. According to this study, welfare spending reached $746 billion in 2011. When talking about welfare, 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 report was requested by Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. He says 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”.
What’s also shocking to find is that Medicaid, which is only one of several programs under the welfare umbrella, accounts for $296 billion of that federal spending. That’s 40% of total spending on low-income assistance; back in 2008 that number was only $82 billion. Medicaid is the federal-state health program for the poor. The second biggest program is food stamps, which accounts for $75 billion in 2011. The spending on food stamps 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.
If anything, this report seems to speak clearly to the issue of unemployment in this country. Many people can no longer afford to provide for their families and now rely on welfare services. These spending habits are not sustainable for the federal government, and something must be done in order to help lower income citizens. With more job creation, not as many people will be relying on welfare and perhaps then we can cut the spending on these programs. Obviously this report just shows how much this recession is hitting the American people.