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By Rachel Pulaski and Jim Hoft
On Thursday, the Senate Budget Committee released a startling welfare spending report based on a new Congressional Research Study. According to the report in 2011 the United States spent $1.028 trillion dollars on welfare, which is more than the states and federal government spent on Social Security, Non-Military Defense or Medicare. The federal spending on welfare entitlements now accounts for one fifth of the federal budget and consumes over 5% of the GDP. This is almost a 30% spending increase since the start of the Obama Administration. The CRS report focused on over 80 benefit programs for low-income families including food stamps, low incomes housing, cash assistance, energy assistance and tax credits for low income families.
The federal government spent 745.84 billion in 2011 on welfare programs, a 32% increase since 2008 and the individual states spent $282.7 billion in 2011 showing a 29% increase since 2008. The CRS report also points out that the food assistance program had the greatest increase, from 2008 to 2011 the United States increased its spending by 71% and the spending for energy assistance programs increased 67% from 2008 to 2011. The most expensive program on the list is Medicaid which jumped from $82 billion in federal spending in 2008 to $296 billion in 2011. According to washingtontimes.com the majority of the funds that boosted these programs came from the 2009 stimulus.
Fox News reported on some of the reasons for such dramatic increases in spending on these programs:
The number of people enrolling in these benefits program has risen in part due to the recession and its aftermath. Record numbers of people, for example, have gone on food stamps as unemployment continues to hover near the 8 percent mark.
Sessions office acknowledges that "persistently weak GDP growth" is "unquestionably a factor" in the rising budget for benefits programs.
However, Sessions office claims federal policy has "explicitly encouraged growth in welfare enrollment -- combined with a weakening of welfare standards and rules."
Republicans have, for example, accused the Obama administration of trying to loosen welfare requirements, though the administration claims it is just trying to give states the kind of flexibility they have sought.
Sessions has also claimed that food stamp administrators have proactively tried to enroll people even when they might not necessarily need the assistance.
Once intended as a temporary “band aid” to help those during tough personal times or during recessions, entitlements have become permanent. They inhibit one’s personal growth in life and undermine a person's own decisions, resulting in weakened family foundations. These entitlements may have first started with good intentions to help those in need instead it has increased America’s need for more. As the saying goes, “The road to hell was paved with good intentions”. Unfortunately, unless the country changes direction and stops moving "forward" this great country will soon be that road to hell. This was certainly not the “ hope and change” we were all looking for.