Obama: 'We're Not Lavishly Spending on a Whole Bunch of Social Programs'

Susan Jones | November 20, 2013 | 10:59am EST
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President Barack Obama (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama told a gathering of business executives on Tuesday that the federal government was not "lavishly spending" on social programs.

"What we know is, is that our -- our fiscal problems are not short-term deficits. Our discretionary budget, that portion of the federal budget that isn't defense or Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid, the entitlement programs, is at its smallest level in my lifetime, probably since Dwight Eisenhower.

"We are not lavishly spending on a whole bunch of social programs out there," Obama continued. "And in many ways, a lot of these programs have become more efficient and pretty effective," he added.

The U.S. Treasury Department records the following expenditures on a few of the many social safety-net programs for Fiscal 2013 and Fiscal 2012. In most cases, the amounts increased year-to-year:

--Medicaid: $265.392 billion ($250.534B in FY 2012)

--Food stamps (SNAP): $82.548 billion ($80.401B in FY 2012)

--Housing and Urban Development Department: $56.576 billion ($49.578B in FY 2012)

--Supplemental Security Income: $56.489 billion ($50.674B in FY 2012)

--Child Nutrition Programs: $19.325 billion ($18.309B in FY 2012)

--Temporary Assistance to Needy Families: $17.017 billion (16.136B in FY 2012)

--Women, Infant and Children (WIC): $6.557 billion ($6.837B in FY 2012)

As CNSNews.com has reported, Americans who were recipients of means-tested government benefits in 2011 outnumbered year-round full-time workers, according to data released in October by the Census Bureau.

Among the 108,592,000 people who fit the Census Bureau’s description of a means-tested benefit recipient in the fourth quarter of 2011 were 82,457,000 people in households receiving Medicaid; 49,073,000 beneficiaries of food stamps; 20,223,000 on Supplemental Security Income; 23,228,000 in the Women, Infants and Children program; 13,433,000 in public or subsidized rental housing; and 5,854,000 in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Also among the 108,592,000 means-tested benefit recipients counted by the Census Bureau were people getting free or reduced-price lunch or breakfast, state-administered supplemental security income and means-tested veterans pensions.

According to a 2012 Heritage Foundation analysis, the means-tested welfare system consists of 79 federal programs providing cash, food, housing, medical care, social services, training, and targeted education aid to poor and low-income Americans.  Heritage calculated that total federal and state means-tested welfare spending reached $927 billion in Fiscal Year 2011.

President Obama on Tuesday said health care costs are driving deficits:

"So when we talk about our deficit and debt problems, it is almost entirely health care costs. You eliminate the delta -- the difference between what we spend on health care and what every other country -- advanced, industrialized nation -- spends on health care, and that's our long-term debt. And if we're able to bend the cost curve, we help solve the problem.

"Now, one way to do that is just to make health care cheaper overall. That's, I think, the best way to do it, and that's what we've been doing through some of the measures in the Affordable Care Act."

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