Welfare Spending Jumps 32% During Obama’s Presidency

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, October 18, 2012

Federal welfare spending has grown by 32 percent over the past four years, fattened by President Obama’s stimulus spending and swelled by a growing number of Americans whose recession-depleted incomes now qualify them for public assistance, according to numbers released Thursday.

Federal spending on more than 80 low-income assistance programs reached $746 billion in 2011, and state spending on those programs brought the total to $1.03 trillion, according to figures from the Congressional Research Service and the Senate Budget Committee.

That makes welfare the single biggest chunk of federal spending—topping Social Security and basic defense spending.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee who requested the Congressional Research Service report, said the numbers underscore a fundamental shift in welfare, which he said has moved from being a Band-Aid and toward a more permanent crutch.

“No longer should we measure compassion by how much money the government spends but by how many people we help to rise out of poverty,” the Alabama conservative said. “Welfare assistance should be seen as temporary whenever possible, and the goal must be to help more of our fellow citizens attain gainful employment and financial independence.”

Welfare spending as measured by obligations stood at $563 billion in fiscal year 2008, but reached $746 billion in fiscal year 2011, a jump of 32 percent.


The numbers tell a complex story of American taxpayers’ generosity in supporting a varied social safety net, including food stamps, support for low-income AIDS patients, child care payments and direct cash going from taxpayers to the poor.

By far, the biggest item on the list is Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor, which at $296 billion in federal spending made up 40 percent of all low-income assistance in 2011. That total was up $82 billion from 2008.

Beyond that, the next big program is food stamps at $75 billion in 2011, or 10 percent of welfare spending. It’s nearly twice the size it was in 2008 and accounts for a staggering 20 percent of the total welfare spending increase over those four years.

Several programs to funnel cash to the poor also ranked high. Led by the earned income tax credit, supplemental security income and the additional child tax credit, direct cash aid accounts for about a fifth of all welfare.


The conservative Heritage Foundation said roughly 100 million Americans get benefits from at least one low-income assistance program each month, with the average benefit coming to around $9,000.


Mr. Obama has taken heat from Republicans for a new policy that Republicans argue would remove work requirements from the 1996 welfare reform. The administration said it is merely adding more flexibility for states, which still would have to prove the law is meeting its jobs goals.


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  • Puggg

    A trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.

    This refers to means tested programs only, so it’s not referring to Social Security and Medicare.

    • It’s just confetti anyway, printed by the fed. They just think we’re a bunch of putzes and schmucks.

      • The majority of the American people pretty much are putzes and schmucks. Check out the links below provided by JohnEngelman documenting the incessant envy of our fellow Americans who seek further tax increases on upper-income earners and corporations.

  • JohnEngelman

    There is little support for cutting these programs, and much support for raising taxes on the rich.

    • The__Bobster

      Only among you guys.

      • JohnEngelman

        Click on the link I posted, and you will realize that you represent a minority perspective. This seems to be true on quite a few issues. 

    • Oil Can Harry

      The public support for cutting these programs depends on how you word it.

      If you call it “cutting aid to the poor” most will oppose it.

      However, if you call it Welfare Reform or “cutting welfare fraud/ food stamp fraud” you’ll garner significant support. 

      • JohnEngelman

        In 1980 Ronald Reagan said that he could cut taxes, raise defense spending, and balance the budget without cutting popular middle class entitlements. All he would need to cut would be “waste, fraud, and abuse.”
        David Stockman was President Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981 to 1985. In his book “The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed,” he said that it was never possible to cut taxes, raise defense spending and balance the budget without cutting or eliminating programs most Republican voters would insist on preserving. These would have included Social Security, Medicare, military pensions, and farm and business subsidies. 
        In short, David Stockman said that Ronald Reagan’s economic policies were intrinsically fraudulent. That was what Democrats had been saying all along.
        As far as welfare fraud and food stamp fraud, Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Food Stamps each cost about one percent of the federal budget. 
        The great majority of that two percent is honestly spent. Both programs could be completely eliminated and we would still have an enormous amount of the budget to cut. 
        The government grew to its present size in response to popular demand. The largest and most expensive programs are the most popular. It is unfortunate that the Republican Party has to learn this every one or two decades.  As soon as Republican politicians get beyond vague generalizations about “less government” and begin to cut and eliminate specific programs they run into effective popular resistance. 

        • Oil Can Harry

          Sorry, but your stats are two decades old.

          More recent data shows these programs now account for 5% of the federal budget. They’ve grown rapidly under Obamarx. 

          And for the record, I never said these were the only programs that should be on the chopping block; I would love to cut defense, foreign aid, corporate welfare and farm subsidies, among others.

        • SLCain

          As others have pointed out, your numbers are old, but more importantly your basic assumptions are wrong.

          The greatest harm done by government spending on welfare – i.e. the taking of money from group A, and the giving of it to group B – is not that the money is taken from group A, it’s that it’s given to group B.  We subsidize the lowest elements of our society to produce more children then they otherwise would.  What do we get as a result?  More thugs, more felons, more “aspiring rappers”, more meth-cookers, more people who will themselves become public charges, either through the welfare office, or through the prison system.

          It would be better – far better – if the government just burned that money.  It would do far less damage to society.  Yes, WE would still have less of our own money, but at least it wouldn’t be given to people who would just use it to breed a whole new generation of bastards, drug-addicts, and criminals.

          • JohnEngelman

            David Stockman was not talking about anti poverty programs. He was talking about middle class entitlements, farm subsidies, and business subsidies. He said that these would need to be significantly reduced in order to make it possible to balance the budget while cutting taxes and raising defense spending. 

          • SLCain

             Of course the middle class entitlements need to be reduced.  But we weren’t talking about them.  We were talking about AFDC, Food Stamps, etc.  And the social effects of giving money to old people after they retire are not as dire as the effects of giving money to welfare queens in the ghetto.

  • Detroit_WASP


    Anyone getting public assistance would have to show up for work each day, rain or shine ready to work.  Sweeping streets, knocking down old houses (in Detroit) planting trees, painting, digging trimming, washing and other HARD manual labor.

    They would be paid slightly less than minimum wage to encourage them to find a real job in the private sector.

    They would have to work 8 hours, get a “free lunch” (deducted from their pay) and they only get paid if they show up on time, sober and ready to work.  Otherwise they will be sent home and they can try again the next day.  

    Do this and watch the welfare roll drop like a rock.   I have a dream!

    • MerlinV

      Detroit Wasp for Prez!

  • Germanacus

    I am all for helping the poor but not as a way of life. Wisconsin was nearly an all White state until word got out of their overly generous welfare benefits. Blacks from Chicago began to pour in. Now they have the associated crime etc.

  • ricpic

    What hope is there, barring economic collapse? And may that come soon.

  • HamletsGhost

    Welfare reform can be simple. Just give any family that requests it a 50 lbs. bag of rice and a 50 lbs. bag of beans every month. Nothing else. You solve the problem of hunger at a price of $100 per month, as no one will starve on that diet. But it is so monotonous that recipients will be desperate for some variety in their diet and actually go out and get a job.

    Like with national defense, this country has evolved a welfare-industrial complex. Millions of federal and state employees owe their paychecks to having a growing body of poor people to administer to and feed, all at the expense of Joe Q. Taxpayer.

    When the 47% hits the 51% mark, then you can stick a fork in it. America is just about cooked.

  • drofmanythings

    No government program ever has been such an overt bribe for votes as the Obamaphone program. It has exploded since (surprise, surprise) 2008. Millions in the underclass assume the President personally has given them 250 free minutes a month.  A sweet deal for what thee poor want as much as food or housing…a free cellular phone!

  • So earlier this year I was talking to a young (early 30s) white pharmacist at my local hospital and was congratulating her on the recent birth of her first child.   She is married to a guy with a good job and makes good money herself so I asked her if they had plans to have a second child.  She said she would really like to but they just don’t think they could afford to have more kids.  I told her I thought that was too bad because her child deserves brothers and sisters.  As I was leaving her office I passed through the hospital waiting room where one large black woman was sitting surrounded by five kids she obviously couldn’t afford without substantial transfers of wealth from white middle class couples who are left with fewer or no children because they are cursed with the white Achilles’s heal of intelligence and responsibility.   Out on the sidewalk I passed not one but three different young Hispanic teenagers all with small children.  Our people have been bullied, brainwashed and forced to support our own genocide by a hostile government, a communist academic establishment and global corporate elites working to destroy our nations sovereignty and identity.   Those trillions of welfare transfer payments are being used to impoverish white America and replace us with a more tractable and manipulable non-white peasant population.

    • Detroit_WASP

      Jessee James,

      Good example.  I wonder what is going to happen when the 80 IQ crowd becomes too many for your friend to support? 

      The answer is…. Detroit.   Detroit happens.

      • SLCain

         That would make a great bumper sticker:

        “Detroit Happens”

        It’s meaningful on several different levels.

    • Hal K

      If we are talking about demographics, then immigration is main cause of white displacement, and conservatives have done nothing about immigration.  They say they “love” legal immigration.

      Conservatives are a big part of the problem.   If they won’t stand up for whites then no one will, since liberalism is the anti-white alliance (and also anti-male).  Since mainstream conservatives are not explicitly standing up for whites, a greater portion of the blame should be on them.

  • Were I king, I would maintain some government programs for the truly needy, but anyone going on the dole would lose the privilege of voting in federal elections.  Come to think of it, I would limit the franchise to active duty military and those who were honorably discharged. All non-citizens would still have the freedom of speech, assembly, association, property ownership, contract, travel, etc., but voting and holding office be reserved only for full citizens.  The rights of a full citizen would have to be earned through some form of volunteer Federal service.

    • 5n4k33y35

      This is the right approach. If you are a freeloader, you can’t vote. 

  • jayjam

    “topping Social Security and basic defense spending”

    Basic defense spending? As in leaving out most of the major spending on wars and such? Isn’t that a bit dishonest?

    It’s the wars that have been costly to the US.

  • Is Obama Buying the Election With His Welfare Explosion?


    Pot Prizes May Have Lured More Eagle Rock Residents To Vote


  • Captain Amurrika

    Well, everybody needs 30 sail fawns.  And maybe some Nikes.  Infact, the government should be giving out free Nikes to minorities. How else will the poe black man be able to work at his affirmative blacktion job doing  absolutely nothing?

    • IstvanIN

       Or run from the police!

  • IstvanIN

    Remember one important fact: mulattoes are black.  The white part has been subsumed.  Once you understand that you realize that Obama is Mugabe.  Blacks truly think we have “stuff” because we took it from someone.  They do not understand that wealth is created.  That it takes planning, innovation and most of all work.  They truly think that if you take “stuff” from whites and give it to blacks then blacks will be “rich” like whites.  Of course it isn’t true.

    Take Zimbabwe.  The blacks think the whites “stole” those farms.  You can not steal a farm, a farm is built.  It is planned and worked.  It is not a natural resource but a man made one.  Thus taking a farm from its white owner and giving it to a black does not result in a transfer of wealth but a loss of wealth and misery for all.

    • saxonsun

       Can’t bring myself to say”zimbabwe.” For me, it will always be Rhodesia.

  • Dave4088

    The black supremacists always tell us that more white people than black on welfare.   In reality blacks and mestizo illegals are the primary beneficiaries of the massive increase in welfare spending.  This comes largely at the expense of the shrinking white working and middle class.  

  • There is a reason why Congressional appropriations for an Army are time limited to two years while for a Navy they’re not time limited at all.  Yamamoto (?) so succinctly stated the reason why the United States did not and does not need a permanent standing Army.

  • Patrick Boyle

    Its not quite this bad yet but we are getting closer and closer to earned wages being the method by which which people sustain themselves but welfare payments are the method for black people.

    About a century automation of the fields in the deep south drove black people into the ‘Great Migration’. That took them to Detroit where they prospered in union auto assembly jobs. But now those jobs have also been automated out of existance. Where are the blacks to go? They can try to compete with whites and East Asians for better jobs but that won’t work for most blacks.

    The solution so far has been governmental. The federal, state, and local governments hire as many blacks as they can.  They pressure private firms to hire blacks they don’t want or need. And finally they add them to the welfare roles.

    There is a black crisis upon us. Obama senses this although he won’t admit it. When he says redistribution he means white to black redistribution. Increasing welfare is part of that.

    I get no joy from this analysis. There really is no good solution for the plight of black people in America.

  • potato78

    INGLEWOOD, Calif. — An autopsy was pending on a charred body found in
    the Southern California bungalow belonging to a gunman accused of
    breaking into a neighbor’s home and shooting five family members,
    killing two of them.

    Desmond John Moses, Accused Of Killing 2 In Inglewood, California Shooting Rampage, Found Dead