With the stimulus package Obama killed the 1996 Clinton era welfare reform, and states began to be rewarded bonuses to increase welfare registration, instead of decrease it. Obama has also criticized Romney for being in favor of a work requirement for welfare recipients. Now, flash forward a few years to fiscal year 2011 and the U.S. has spent more than ever before on welfare, and this does NOT include Social Security ($725 billion), Medicare ($480 billion), veterans healthcare or veterans pension programs. What the $1.03 trillion does include is food stamps, cash assistance, education assistance, healthcare assistance, housing assistance, and social services.
There was 71% more spending on food stamps in 2011 than there was in 2008. Other categories of welfare also saw a steep rise in spending.
CRS further noted that the largest expenditure category, health, was 37 percent higher in fiscal year 2011 than fiscal year 2008. In that same period, cash aid increased 12 percent, education assistance increased 57 percent, housing and development assistance increased 2 percent, social services increased 3 percent, employment and training remained the same (though fluctuated in intervening years), and energy assistance was 67 percent higher in fiscal year 2011 than fiscal year 2008. (Original Article Here).
Federal welfare spending has also doubled its share of the budget, and increased 378% during the same 30 year time frame. Record numbers of people in America receive welfare, with 100 million on at least one assistance program. According to a Weekly Standard article from August:
Food stamps and Medicaid make up a large–and growing–chunk of the more than 100 million recipients. “Among the major means tested welfare programs, since 2000 Medicaid has increased from 34 million people to 54 million in 2011 and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) from 17 million to 45 million in 2011,” says the Senate Budget Committee.
The federal government’s largest budget item is now welfare with $745.8 billion going towards welfare in fiscal year 2011. Another $282.7 billion is contributed by the states. It should come as no surprise that these numbers have skyrocketed, the Obama administration has done everything it can to get more people on the public dole. They have sent people into grocery stores to inform Americans about the availability of assistance. The Obama administration has even hired staff to deal with people’s pride, which might otherwise mean they refuse welfare.
When a person is dependent on the government, that means a vote for whoever promises to keep the handouts coming. It also means less incentive to work, especially under Obama’s program where the work requirements for welfare recipients have been weakened. The ridiculous amount of spending contributes to the budget deficits and debt, and allows fewer people to pay into the system through earning a salary and paying taxes. This type of welfare spending is unsustainable. Why should the unemployed bother getting a minimum wage job, when their lifestyle will be more enjoyable if they sign up for government assistance instead?
And on top of all the other reasons for reforming and cutting welfare, where are the results? In the private sector, any sort of program that this much money is being sunk into on a yearly basis would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the program is working. Welfare has not proven this, and as our economy continues to slow, there is total lack of proof that any welfare program helps people to rise out of poverty. On the contrary, it seems to make people dependent on government handouts and unable or unwilling to move out of public housing, or earn their own spending money, or pay for their own groceries. When the standard of living is no different between working 50 hours per week at low wage job and not working, but receiving welfare, which do you think people will choose?
As fewer and fewer people work there is only so much the taxpayers can take on. Already we have had yearly budget deficits of $1 trillion for the last 4 years, and the burden cannot continually be put on “the rich”. In reality, the rich already pay far more than their “fair share”. While some people surely need some sort of assistance to survive, we cannot allow millions of others to take advantage of the system when they are perfectly capable of working and earning a living for themselves. The welfare system belongs to the states, and should not be handled at the federal level. It has already gone too far, and it is only a matter of time until the straw is placed that breaks the camel’s back.