Means-tested welfare costs shot above $1 trillion in FY2011

posted at 2:11 pm on October 18, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

How much spending does the US do on means-tested welfare programs?  According to Senator Jeff Sessions and the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, it’s more than one would imagine.  In FY2011 alone, federal and state spending on means-tested federal entitlement programs rose above $1 trillion — and that doesn’t include non-means-tested programs like Social Security and Medicare:

The government spent approximately $1.03 trillion on 83 means-tested federal welfare programs in fiscal year 2011 alone — a price tag that makes welfare that year the government’s largest expenditure, according to new data released by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.

The total sum taxpayers spent on federal welfare programs was derived from a new Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on federal welfare spending — which topped out at $745.84 billion for fiscal year 2011 — combined with an analysis from the Republican Senate Budget Committee staff of state spending on federal welfare programs (based on “The Oxford Handbook of State and Local Government Finance”), which reached $282.7 billion in fiscal year 2011. …

According to the CRS report, which focused solely on federal spending for federal welfare programs, spending on federal welfare programs increased $563.413 billion in fiscal year 2008 to $745.84 billion in fiscal year 2011 — a 32 percent increase.

Further, spending on the 10 largest federal welfare programs has doubled as a share of the federal budget in the last 30 years: In inflation-adjusted dollars, according to Republican staff on the Senate Budget Committee, the amount spent on these programs has increased 378 percent in that 30 year time frame.

CRS reports that food assistance programs — the third largest welfare category behind health and cash assistance — experienced the greatest increase in spending, with 71 percent more spending in 2011 than in 2008. The agency explained that this spending increase was largely due to the growth in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps.

A few points should be kept in mind.  We had a massive recession and job loss event between FY2008 and FY2011, which dramatically impacted both the accumulated wealth and incomes of middle- and working-class Americans.  Under those conditions, one would expect to see short-term dramatic gains in programs like SNAP and Medicaid.  Furthermore, part of this spending covers unemployment benefits, which Congress continually extended until the end of FY2011, meaning that the normal cycle of benefit payments got a lot longer and more expensive [see update below].

However, those problems should have been short term.  In most economic downturns, jobs and wealth rebound fairly quickly, especially when the federal government acts to streamline regulation, reduce interference with energy costs, and provide long-term stability in tax and monetary policy.  That’s how Ronald Reagan produced the generation-long boom of the 1980s from the double-dip recession that hit the US between 1980-81.

What happens when the federal government does the exact opposite?  You get the worst jobs recovery in post-WWII history:

 

So what is to be done to get costs back in control?  First, we need to look at the insanity of having 83 federal agencies handling means-tested welfare, and the costs associated with those bureaucracies overlapping and duplicating efforts.  That could save some money, and more to the point, get the aid to where it’s truly needed.  As the chart above shows, and as recent data on the dramatic erosion of median income also demonstrates, the need is not an illusion.

But what we really need to cut costs in these programs is to make them a lot less necessary than they are today for millions of Americans.  That means putting in place the kind of regulatory, monetary, and tax reform necessary to produce a real, sustained recovery that will produce jobs and create wealth again for the working and middle classes.  That means encouraging American energy production to lower energy costs while creating hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs in oil and gas production and refining. That means that we need to quit worrying about class warfare and start worrying once again about upward mobility and innovation by making it attractive to put capital to work in the US.

Update: A source with knowledge of the data says that unemployment benefits were not included in this spending total — which, on reflection, makes sense, since unemployment is not a means-tested program.


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No Hope

Lots of Change

Schadenfreude on October 18, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Leading from behind.

Obama is a disaster for minorities and other poor.

He is also a disaster for race relations.

He’s a disaster for America.

The ONLY thing he succeeded in is handing the ME and N. Africa ot the muzzie brotherhood and AlQaida, by design.

Wake up America, while you can.

Schadenfreude on October 18, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Obama is handing out binders full of cash.

Curtiss on October 18, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Most Americans do not want government assistance. They want
jobs so they can afford to support their families.

I won’t even comment on the ones who live on the dole as a way
of life. They are losers.

Vote for Romney! Even if you disagree with him on other issues,
one must admit that the man is uniquely qualified to handle our
economic woes and job creation. Without a solid economy our nation is doomed. That is the number 1 issue and should be.

Early voting starts October 22nd.

Amjean on October 18, 2012 at 2:16 PM

This isn’t just unsustainable it’s suicidal. Look for that figure to double with obamacare and the Dems drive for open borders which basically amounts to importing poverty/Dem voters.

Caseoftheblues on October 18, 2012 at 2:17 PM

The economic groundswell that will coincide with a Romney victory will gladden many hearts. There is so much capital waiting for a Capitalist in the White House, we’ll all benefit from the rising tide…if you’ve got your boat shipshape.

CitizenEgg on October 18, 2012 at 2:17 PM

The government spent approximately $1.03 trillion on 83 means-tested federal welfare programs in fiscal year 2011 alone — a price tag that makes welfare that year the government’s largest expenditure, according to new data released by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.

83 programs? Good lord. No wonder were broke.

Bitter Clinger on October 18, 2012 at 2:17 PM

That is insane. In 2000 when Clinton’s Presidency was winding down, the entire budget was around $2 trillion total. Now we’re spending half that amount on welfare programs alone?!

Doughboy on October 18, 2012 at 2:18 PM

This is a national travesty.

Ellis on October 18, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Oh, this the picture of the welfare line? I always get it mixed up with the picture of the unemployment line.

Hat Trick on October 18, 2012 at 2:19 PM

When the State controls access to food, the State controls the People.

The Commie and his more equal Pigs would rather the American people eat out of dog bowls – knowing that the dogs would never bite the hand that feeds them.

This is about control, and the perpetuation of reliance upon the State.

OhEssYouCowboys on October 18, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Any chance President Romney & Congress Republicans can have this gravy train stopped? Not likely, as I see it. The alternative is to turn all cities into riotous bloodbath. We are truly and deeply focked.

Archivarix on October 18, 2012 at 2:20 PM

47%

RedNewEnglander on October 18, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Oh, this the picture of the welfare line? I always get it mixed up with the picture of the unemployment line.

Hat Trick on October 18, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Don’t forget the line to see the State provided doctor.

OhEssYouCowboys on October 18, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Excluding Social Security and Medicare. ..and military pensions / entitlements.

rayra on October 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Oh, this the picture of the welfare line? I always get it mixed up with the picture of the unemployment line.

Hat Trick on October 18, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Nah, the unemployment line has the redhead. And if that stormtrooper could ever find his way off the subway, he’d be standing in it too.

Doughboy on October 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Paying for all this has been painful. The real pain lies ahead. Not paying for it. Be prepared.

Bmore on October 18, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Do fat people deserve food stamps?

Oil Can on October 18, 2012 at 2:26 PM

…and this is whta you get when the Senate Majority Leader abbrogates their only constitutional legislative responsibility – to pass a budget. 3yrs+ without one, so that already bloated budgets and the abomination that is baseline budgeting practices could be continued DESPITE a popular ouster of Democrat control of the House in 2010. An entire Congress term, the 112th, shall pass no Budget because of Democrat obstructionism so that they can maintain the egregious spending referenced in this topic. TO NO SUBSTANTIVE PURPOSE. Strictly for partisan vote buying. OUR money, OUR GRANDCHILDREN’S money, squandered on predominantly democrat parasites.

rayra on October 18, 2012 at 2:28 PM

This goes along with the 47 job worker programs that goes across 8 different agencies. You know for all those saved and created jobs.

CoffeeLover on October 18, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Do fat people deserve food stamps?

Oil Can on October 18, 2012 at 2:26 PM

Yes, assclown. Go find a Tin Man to hump.

rayra on October 18, 2012 at 2:28 PM

That is insane. In 2000 when Clinton’s Presidency was winding down, the entire budget was around $2 trillion total. Now we’re spending half that amount on welfare programs alone?!

Doughboy on October 18, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Just welfare. Does not include disability, but there is probably some uhhhh “overlap” (yeah that’s the word) between the programs.

Are gas stations, stores and restaurants closing where you are?

Can we call it a DEPRESSION NOW?

Why do people insist on calling this a “recovery?” I say BOLLICKS! When the stats the government puts out are blatantly and overtly FALSE, honest journalists and editorialists have a responsibility to stop using that term, don’t they?

dogsoldier on October 18, 2012 at 2:29 PM

WELFARE SOARS 32% IN 4 YEARS…
Welfare now costs $1,030,000,000,000…
NO SURPRISE: Jobless claims rise 46,000…
Under Obama, for every $7 brought in by gov’t, $11 spent… Drudge Headlines

CoffeeLover on October 18, 2012 at 2:30 PM

I heard this on Rush today (which was awesome because I never have a chance to listen to Rush). The absolute worst part of this is that if this was all converted to cash from assistant items, poverty would be eliminated. INsteat…it’s $1.3T and poverty is increasing. Devastating.

Jackalope on October 18, 2012 at 2:32 PM

I haven’t taken a dime in Welfare. I’ve never taken food stamps. Never taken unemployment checks. Never taken Medicare. Too young for Social Security. Same for state programs. But I’ve paid taxes for the last 40 years to pay for all of these.

Guess that makes me a sucker.

Socratease on October 18, 2012 at 2:36 PM

The ONLY thing he succeeded in is handing the ME and N. Africa ot the muzzie brotherhood and AlQaida, by design.

Wake up America, while you can.

Schadenfreude on October 18, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Obama silent while people died in Iran and Georgia during 2009.
Then arbitrarily (?) siding against regimes during the Arab Spring.

Arab Spring led to the ME and North Africa aflame while the Obama regime spins to stay in power. Disgusting.

freedomfirst on October 18, 2012 at 2:37 PM

must.use.preview.

freedomfirst on October 18, 2012 at 2:38 PM

I haven’t taken a dime in Welfare. I’ve never taken food stamps. Never taken unemployment checks. Never taken Medicare. Too young for Social Security. Same for state programs. But I’ve paid taxes for the last 40 years to pay for all of these.

Guess that makes me a sucker.

Socratease on October 18, 2012 at 2:36 PM

I’ve actually had working friends say the same thing to me. People are seeing this and now going in to apply thinking why not…

CoffeeLover on October 18, 2012 at 2:42 PM

I haven’t taken a dime in Welfare. I’ve never taken food stamps. Never taken unemployment checks. Never taken Medicare. Too young for Social Security. Same for state programs. But I’ve paid taxes for the last 40 years to pay for all of these.

Guess that makes me a sucker.

Socratease on October 18, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Very profound. It is so simple…yet the spin from the Left on this issue is off the charts.

Jackalope on October 18, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Please make this into and ad mitt!

mrscullen on October 18, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Romney likes the safety net, it allows him to not think about the poor. So if you are imagining this is going to go away on his watch, think again.

We spent $1,951 trillion at the federal level alone on wealth transfers in 2011. What is that, 1/8th of the GDP?

Tell me again how this is moral? Tell me again how our nation can prosper if you will not get rid of all federal wealth transfers?

It will not, it cannot. It might get a few spurts here and there, but on average, we are destined for at best mediocrity!

astonerii on October 18, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Please make this into and ad mitt!

mrscullen on October 18, 2012 at 2:44 PM

What is he going to say? Get off your lazy butts 47%ers and help pay for this government cheese!?!

astonerii on October 18, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Coward-Piven

burrata on October 18, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Update: A source with knowledge of the data says that unemployment benefits were not included in this spending total — which, on reflection, makes sense, since unemployment is not a means-tested program.

Which makes it that much worse.

Bitter Clinger on October 18, 2012 at 2:47 PM

No Hope

Lots of Change

Schadenfreude on October 18, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Thread Winner.

SparkPlug on October 18, 2012 at 2:52 PM

This isn’t just unsustainable it’s suicidal. Look for that figure to double with obamacare and the Dems drive for open borders which basically amounts to importing poverty/Dem voters.

Caseoftheblues on October 18, 2012 at 2:17 PM

It’s not suicidal for the democratic party, it’s their lifeblood.

slickwillie2001 on October 18, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Another poster said most Americans don’t want government assistance. One can only hope that this is true but I fear we are perilously close to a tipping point where more people than not feel its “ok” to get their share of the gooberment pie without thinking about where that share is coming from (and how that gravy train simply cannot run forever).

And this is exactly what progressives want to see happen: a permanent majority dependent class.

natasha333 on October 18, 2012 at 3:00 PM

So what, the money presses haven’t run out of ink, this is nothing.

Bishop on October 18, 2012 at 3:02 PM

Well, it’s pretty obvious what’s causing the deficits.

OxyCon on October 18, 2012 at 3:06 PM

If Barry is behind in the polls, he has not pushed enough people into the dependence class.

bayview on October 18, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Coward-Piven
burrata on October 18, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Conspiracy theorist!

Conspiracy theorist!

Marxist truther!

Eleventy!

(You’re absolutely correct – all kidding aside. Might as well use humor as the truth is too terrible to contemplate)

turfmann on October 18, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Barry saved or created many Grovel Ready Jobs.

SparkPlug on October 18, 2012 at 3:09 PM

Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments. Investments.

Make a note of it.

BobMbx on October 18, 2012 at 3:09 PM

Yes, assclown. Go find a Tin Man to hump.

rayra on October 18, 2012 at 2:28 PM

A little harsh.

Why can’t food stamps be like the tax rates?

You make more incoime, the government taxes a higher percent. Well if you weigh more then the government give you less stamps. The fat should pay their far share.

Oil Can on October 18, 2012 at 3:12 PM

And this is exactly what progressives want to see happen: a permanent majority dependent class.

natasha333 on October 18, 2012 at 3:00 PM

We got plenty of those progressives in the (R) party. Can we start the purge yet?

astonerii on October 18, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Update: A source with knowledge of the data says that unemployment benefits were not included in this spending total — which, on reflection, makes sense, since unemployment is not a means-tested program.

This is stupid. Of course its means-tested.

“How much money do you make?”

“None, I’m unemployed.”

“Sorry, you don’t qualify for unemployment…you aren’t unemployed enough”

BobMbx on October 18, 2012 at 3:12 PM

I will prolly catch hell for this, but could we get a larger shot of that crowd in the welfare line. I seem to notice a constant trait that could be informative!

i notice they seem to be a bunch of fat assses that due to thier lazy attitutdes and lazy lives in general don’t get enough exercise.
drug test em and give em jobs pickin up sticks, cans,road kill or whatever. Something so they dont just lay around reproducing clones of themselves.

ConcealedKerry on October 18, 2012 at 3:13 PM

PS,

I being a little stupid, because this is what will happen under Obamacare. It’s coming, please take note.

Oil Can on October 18, 2012 at 3:13 PM

My goodness — if your brain doesn’t freeze up upon hearing that there are 83 different federal agencies “means testing” who gets to line up at the government trough, there’s something wrong with you.

And something very, very, very wrong with our government.

natasha333 on October 18, 2012 at 3:15 PM

The Clintons are for Romney.

Schadenfreude on October 18, 2012 at 3:16 PM

The Clintons are for Romney.

Schadenfreude on October 18, 2012 at 3:16 PM

“I thought he was going to cry.” (Former President Bill “I feel your pain” Clinton, speaking about Obama)

Holy cannoli! What a confidence inspiring thing to say about our mom’s jeans wearing, limp wristed, skinny, throws-like-a-girl president.

Schadenfreude – I think you’re onto something. That doesn’t make Obama sound empathetic. It makes him look weaker and more ineffective (and effeminate) than he already does.

natasha333 on October 18, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Another poster said most Americans don’t want government assistance. One can only hope that this is true but I fear we are perilously close to a tipping point where more people than not feel its “ok” to get their share of the gooberment pie without thinking about where that share is coming from (and how that gravy train simply cannot run forever).

And this is exactly what progressives want to see happen: a permanent majority dependent class.

natasha333 on October 18, 2012 at 3:00 PM

I’ve heard this from more people than I like. Some have told me to do likewise and get all I can from the government. I won’t. They don’t care one bit when I tell them where the government gets the money for their goodies.

There are moments when I ask myself “what the hell am I doing?” I know people on these programs living in a better house than I am, with all the latest gadgets, including iPhones and iPads that iAmPayingFor.

dogsoldier on October 18, 2012 at 3:27 PM

People are still ashamed of admitting use of the system. That is why they demand the system make it less visible that they are partaking in it. Debit cards instead of food stamps.

astonerii on October 18, 2012 at 3:30 PM

natasha333 on October 18, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Holy cannoli! What a confidence inspiring thing to say about our mom’s jeans wearing, girly bike riding, limp wristed, skinny, throws-like-a-girl president.

Forgot one.

D-fusit on October 18, 2012 at 3:33 PM

(You’re absolutely correct – all kidding aside. Might as well use humor as the truth is too terrible to contemplate)

turfmann on October 18, 2012 at 3:08 PM

and just like every economic disaster we are facing today , this one too was put in place by Clinton .
I wish more tapayers could see this picture

burrata on October 18, 2012 at 3:45 PM

You would think that for $2 trillion in revenue we would be able to run a government… and not spend more than we take in.

ajacksonian on October 18, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Any chance President Romney & Congress Republicans can have this gravy train stopped? Not likely, as I see it. The alternative is to turn all cities into riotous bloodbath. We are truly and deeply focked.
Archivarix on October 18, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Cleombrotus on October 18, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Keep the presses printing punks.

Bmore on October 18, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Any chance President Romney & Congress Republicans can have this gravy train stopped? Not likely, as I see it. The alternative is to turn all cities into riotous bloodbath. We are truly and deeply focked.

Archivarix on October 18, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Cleombrotus on October 18, 2012 at 3:47 PM

We can’t turn it off overnight, but a program of awards for fraud reporting, work requirements, documentation requirements to prove income level, cross-check against adjacent states, and chasing down fraud will cut the numbers significantly from a trillion bucks.

Go to the Craigslist in any decent sized city and do a search on ‘food stamps’.

slickwillie2001 on October 18, 2012 at 6:10 PM

I’m surprised no one has spouted off “Of course, Social Security and Medicare aren’t included…they aren’t welfare!!!!”

cptacek on October 18, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Heard Rush talking about this today.
His theory is that Obama won’t reveal what his 2nd term agenda is because if it was known, he would lose by a HUGE landslide.
Obama thinks the $1 Trillion we’re spending now is still not enough.

dverplank on October 18, 2012 at 6:58 PM

So do we all understand how the unemployment numbers a dropping even though people are not going back to work? Welfare. It’s what you get after the 2 years of the other checks stop.
-
I grew up surrounded by welfare families in the 60s. Some very poor parenting happen in those ‘stay at home mom’ households. It’s wastes lives when you hand people a check for being non-productive…
-

RalphyBoy on October 19, 2012 at 2:23 AM