Welfare Now the Largest Federal Expense
RSC Legislation Would Apply ’96 Model to “the Rest” of Welfare
Oct 18, 2012 -
A report from the independent Congressional Research Service reveals that welfare is now the single largest federal expense – greater than Social Security, Medicare, and national defense. Combined state & federal spending on 83 different welfare programs topped $1 trillion in FY 2011.
After half a century of waging a War on Poverty through this ever-expanding list of government programs, 46.2 million Americans still live in poverty according to the latest Census data.
Spending so much with so little effect is not fair to the poor or to taxpayers. The successful welfare reforms of 1996 – which dealt with just 1 of the 83 programs – should provide a model for making our efforts to aid the needy more effective and more affordable.
Members of the Republican Study Committee have proposed several solutions to reform “the rest” of welfare.
- The State Health Flexibility Act deals with Medicaid & CHIP, which provide often substandard care at high cost. Using the 1996 model, the legislation provides states maximum flexibility to innovate and tailor to the needs of their unique populations while shifting federal funding from an entitlement formula to a stable block grant set at current spending levels.
- The State Nutrition Assistance Flexibility Act deals with Food Stamps and 5 other food welfare programs in the Farm Bill. Also based on the 1996 reforms, it combines these 6 programs into a single block grant at 2008-levels, with maximum flexibility for states to improve their food welfare efforts. Programs under this block grant will be subject to strong work requirements for able-bodied adults.
The RSC also operates an Anti-Poverty Initiative, an effort to find better ways of fighting poverty through the power of free enterprise and strong civic relationships.
- The Welfare Reform Act of 2011 deals with the big picture. To better inform Americans about current programs, it requires the president to annually disclose total welfare expenditures as a separate budget category. Once unemployment falls below 6.5%, the legislation sets aggregate spending for this category at pre-recession levels, adjusted for inflation.