Report: Enough Spent on Welfare Programs in 2011 to Write Every Poor Household a $59,523 Check

October 30, 2012 - 1:21 PM


poor

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The federal government spent enough money on federal means-tested welfare programs to have sent each impoverished household a check for nearly $60,000, according to figures from the Census Bureau and the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

According to a report from the CRS produced for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), $1 trillion was spent on federal welfare programs during fiscal year 2011 – with $746 billion in federal funds and $254 in state matching funds.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that there were approximately 16.8 million households living below the federal poverty level of $23,000 per year for a family of four in 2011. ( See:  2011 Households Below Poverty 2011.pdf )

If each of the estimated 16.8 million households with income below the poverty level were to have received an equal share of the total welfare spending for fiscal year 2011, they each would have received $59,523.

Sen. Jeff Sessions

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) at a Capitol Hill news conference. (AP File Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

If only the 2011 federal share of welfare spending (no state matching funds) were spent as direct cash payments, each household would have received $44,404, which is nearly double the federal poverty level for a family of four.

This federal welfare spending does not include programs such as Medicare and Social Security, because they are not means-tested programs. Means-tested programs are those that only pay out benefits to people whose incomes fall below a certain threshold, such as food stamps, traditional cash welfare, and Medicaid.

In other words, if the government were to discontinue its myriad federal welfare programs, such as housing vouchers, food stamps, and Medicaid, and instead just wrote every poor household a check, it would nearly quadruple their income: increasing it from at most $23,000 per year to nearly $83,000 per year.