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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Welfare Spending Under Obama- The Dramatic Rise Of Government Dependency

By Susan Duclos

The Heritage Foundation published a study with incredibly informative graphs and charts along with detailed historical data which shows massive increases in Government dependency over the decades with the highest surges produced by Barack Obama and his policies.

The 2012 Index of Dependence on Government is the tenth year that The Heritage Foundation has warned about Americans’ growing dependence on government programs. The measurements used in the analysis, graphs and charts begin in 1962.

While dependency on the government has steadily risen throughout the decades, the rate of growth under Barack Obama's three years in office is described as dramatic and staggering.

In 2010 alone, the Index of Dependence on Government grew by 8.1 percent. The Index variables that grew the most were:
  • Housing: 13 percent
  • Health Care and Welfare: 13.1 percent
  • Retirement: 3.1 percent.

The chart below is labeled Welfare and Low-Income Health Care Assistance Surges and Heritage's analysis will be shown below it.

Click image to enlarge

Comprehensive welfare reform is far from achieved. Today’s welfare system is a convoluted machinery of 70 programs, six federal departments, and a voluminous collection of state agencies and programs. Overall, the welfare system amounts to almost $900 billion in spending per year. A typical welfare recipient family could receive assistance from six or seven programs (e.g., TANF, Medicaid, food stamps, public housing, Head Start, and the Social Services Block Grant) administered by four different departments.

Since President Lyndon Johnson declared the War on Poverty in 1964, the federal government has spent approximately $16 trillion on means-tested welfare aid. Today, means-tested assistance is the fastest-growing part of government, with the nation spending more on welfare than on national defense. In the past two decades, growth in means-tested welfare spending has outpaced that of Social Security, Medicare, education, and defense. Under the Obama Administration, welfare spending has increased dramatically. For example, between FY 2008 (the last fiscal year under the Bush Administration) and FY 2011, the average per capita benefit for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program, nearly doubled from $39.3 billion to $75.3 billion (in constant 2011 dollars). Food-stamp outlay for FY 2011 is estimated at $78.5 billion. Over the next 10 years, welfare spending is projected to cost taxpayers $10.3 trillion. The Obama Administration has worked rapidly to expand the welfare state further. Such growth is clearly unsustainable.

The 1996 Welfare Reform Act was the first phase of meaningful welfare reform; the next phase should focus on the following: First, since means-tested welfare spending goes to more than 70 federal programs, Congress should require the President’s annual budget to detail current and future aggregate federal means-tested spending. The budget should also provide estimates of state contributions to federal welfare programs. Second, continuing reform should rein in the explosive growth in spending. Once the current recession ends, that is, when unemployment reaches 6.5 percent, aggregate welfare funding should be capped at pre-recession (FY 2007) levels plus inflation. Third, building on the successful 1996 model, further reform should continue to promote personal responsibility by encouraging work. For example, SNAP, one of the largest means-tested programs, should be restructured to require recipients to work, or prepare to work, in order to be eligible for food stamps.

In March 2011, Representative Jim Jordan (R–OH), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, introduced the Welfare Reform Act of 2011. The legislation seeks to reverse the undoing of TANF reform under the Obama Administration; require able-bodied adult members of food-stamp-recipient families to work or actively seek employment; reward states for reducing food-stamp caseloads below 2006 levels and for reducing poverty and government dependence; require the President to include total means-tested welfare spending in his annual budget; and require Congress to define and establish an aggregate cap for means-tested welfare spending in its budget.

IBD has put the 18 staggering charts together on one page HERE, without analysis, and the detailed analysis of each and every chart and graph can be found at Heritage HERE.

In August of 2011, when reports surfaced showing that Food Stamp (part of welfare) use rose to a record 45.8 million, Newt Gingrich started calling Barack Obama "the most effective food stamp President in history," and with the Dependency Index rising 23 percent under Barack Obama, it looks like Gingrich was and is correct.