Sunday, November 4, 2012

Welfare in 2011: $60,000 Per Household

Taxpayers last year spent $1 trillion on welfare programs for households below the poverty line — enough to give each low-income household a check for $60,000.

According to a report from the Senate Budget Committee’s Republican staff and ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the federal government spent $746 billion on welfare in the 2011 fiscal year, and states paid out $254 billion in matching funds.

The federal total was up from $563 billion in fiscal year 2008, the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency, and up from $692 billion in fiscal 2009.

The federal welfare spending cited in the report does not include programs such as Medicare and Social Security, which are not means-tested and directed toward lower-income Americans, and does not include programs for veterans.

The Congressional Research Service reported that federal spending on health benefits for people with low income totaled $339 billion in fiscal 2011, with $295 billion spent on Medicaid.

The second largest category, Cash Aid, totaled $145 billion.

Federal taxpayers shelled out $101 billion for food assistance, including $80 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). That’s double what they spent in 2008.

The total also includes $2 billion for Nutritional Assistance for Puerto Rico.

Taxpayers also spent $41.4 billion on Pell Grants, $46 billion on Housing and Development, $7.5 billion on Head Start, and $5 billion on Energy Assistance.

According to the Census Bureau, last year 16.8 million U.S. households were below the poverty line of $23,000 per year for a family of four. If all households received an equal share of the $1 trillion in welfare spending, they would each get $59,523.

And if only the federal share of welfare spending is considered, without state matching funds, each low-income household would still receive $44,404 — nearly double the federal poverty line of $23,000. 

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