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Welfare Spending Skyrockets, Poverty Rate Remains Unchanged Under Obama

Editor's Note: This post was authored by Townhall.com intern Kyle Bonnell.

Echoing a familiar theme, the Obama administration has dramatically increased welfare spending without actually reducing poverty. Under President Obama, welfare funding has increased by 41%, which adds up to $193 billion per year. CNS News, reporting on a Cato Institute study,
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had this to say :

“Federal welfare spending this year now totals $668 billion, spread out over 126 programs, while the poverty rate that remains stubbornly high at nearly 15 percent – roughly where it was in 1965, when President Johnson declared a federal War on Poverty.

While the study concedes that some of the increased spending under Obama is a result of the recession and the counter-cyclical nature of anti-poverty programs, it also finds that some of the increase is deliberate, with the government having expanded eligibility for welfare programs.

“But the dramat­ically larger increase also suggests that part of the program’s growth is due to conscious policy choices by this administration to ease eligibility rules and expand caseloads,” the Cato report says. “For example, income limits for eligibility have risen twice as fast as inflation since 2007 and are now roughly 10 percent higher than they were when Obama took office.”

In fact, the study points out that according to the administration’s own projections, federal welfare spending is unlikely to decline even after the economy recovers – further evidence that not all of the increase in spending is recession-related."

The $668 billon of funding and 126 programs aimed at reducing poverty have instead created dependence on government. These programs fail, in part, because they are structurally
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flawed :

“The vast majority of current programs are focused on making poverty more comfortable – giv­ing poor people more food, better shelter, health care, and so forth – rather than giving people the tools that will help them escape poverty.”

“It would make sense therefore to shift our anti-poverty efforts from government programs that simply provide money or goods and services to those who are living in poverty to efforts to create the condi­tions and incentives that will make it eas­ier for people to escape poverty.”

President Obama should be focused on reforming welfare programs so that recipients are given the tools to climb out of poverty and join the workforce. Otherwise, he will continue to do a disservice to both those in poverty and the taxpayers funding these ineffectual programs. But nothing says “I care” in Washington like pouring more money into failing programs.

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