In many respects, this country no longer looks like the American Republic that our parents and grandparents experienced. More than ever before, government is destroying private enterprise on the one hand, and offering permanent dependency on the other hand. With all the focus on big bird, binders, and the 47%, the most important figure is the $1.03 trillion – the cost of combined federal and state welfare spending per year.
Total welfare spending has been flirting with the $1 trillion number in recent years, and now according to a new report from the Senate Budget Committee, we have breached that ceiling. The Daily Caller has the details:
The government spent approximately $1.03 trillion on 83 means-tested federal welfare programs in fiscal year 2011 alone — a price tag that makes welfare that year the government’s largest expenditure, according to new data released by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.
The total sum taxpayers spent on federal welfare programs was derived from a new Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on federal welfare spending — which topped out at $745.84 billion for fiscal year 2011 — combined with an analysis from the Republican Senate Budget Committee staff of state spending on federal welfare programs (based on “The Oxford Handbook of State and Local Government Finance”), which reached $282.7 billion in fiscal year 2011.
All too often, Republicans focus on the small ticket items like Amtrak, or the waste, fraud and abuse within the welfare programs. Undoubtedly, we must root out all wasteful spending within these programs, but ultimately, we must root out the growth of the actual programs. It’s not just the price tag and the mounting debt. These programs, unlike some of the puerile discretionary spending, are depressing the economy, entrenching dependency, and creating a permanent Democrat majority.
In terms of the price tag, Obama has increased federal welfare spending by 32%, from $563.413 billion in FY 2008 to $745.84 billion in FY 2011. Keep in mind that this figure doesn’t include the roughly $1.57 trillion in spending for the three major entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid).
Remember that Obama doesn’t think this is enough. That is why he is jettisoning work requirements for welfare programs. And what have we gotten for all this spending? Poverty is at an all-time high since the beginning of the “war on Poverty.” In that sense, it’s not just in 2009 that we had a failed stimulus. There’s a failed $1 trillion stimulus every year.
When Republicans win back all branches of government, they must immediately wipe Obama’s welfare increase clean and revert back to pre-Obama or pre-Pelosi spending levels. Then we need to start the process of devolving these programs back to the states so they wean themselves from the federal trough, which currently covers 75% of all welfare spending.
We must remember that this time is different. Republicans will be expected to tackle the tough issues. Defending NPR and Amtrak won’t cut it.