The Federal Welfare Explosion

Welfare is now the largest item in the federal budget, and under Barack Obama’s budget–the one that didn’t get any votes, but may nevertheless be a blueprint for the next four years–it is slated to grow another 30% in Obama’s second term. Welfare is now the largest category of federal spending; note that the figures in the chart include state contributions to federal welfare programs:

This is an astonishing fact: the amount spent on federal welfare programs last year was enough to mail a $60,000 check to every one of the 17 million households living beneath the poverty line. And that doesn’t include spending by state and local governments, which traditionally have had primary responsibility for welfare, or spending by private charities. This illustrates once again that the principal beneficiaries of welfare spending are not poor people, which is why Richard Nixon wanted to institute a negative income tax that would simply give money to poor people rather than supporting the vast welfare apparatus that exists mainly for other reasons.

With Congress now focused on negotiations over the fiscal cliff and the need to raise the debt ceiling, again, this bloated welfare spending should be a ripe area for major cuts.

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