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Welfare Spending Equals $168 Per Day Per Household

You read that correctly. According to budget background data from the U.S. Senate Budget Committee (Minority) Website (HT Power Line, December 7, 2012):

“Based on data from the Congressional Research Service, cumulative spending on means-tested federal welfare programs, if converted into cash, would equal $167.65 per day per household living below the poverty level. By comparison, the median household income in 2011 of $50,054 equals $137.13 per day. Additionally, spending on federal welfare benefits, if converted into cash payments, equals enough to provide $30.60 per hour, 40 hours per week, to each household living below poverty. The median household hourly wage is $25.03. After accounting for federal taxes, the median hourly wage drops to between $21.50 and $23.45, depending on a household’s deductions and filing status. State and local taxes further reduce the median household’s hourly earnings. By contrast, welfare benefits are not taxed.”

The background document points out that for FY 2011, “CRS identified roughly 80 overlapping federal means-tested welfare programs that together represented the single largest budget item in 2011—more than the nation spends on Social Security, Medicare, or national defense.” When state contributions of $280 billion are included, the total amounts to “roughly $1 trillion.” The graph below is from the budget background document:

As John Hinderaker concludes his post at the Power Line blog:

“This doesn’t mean that families on welfare live better than the median American family, but it does mean that they have more money spent on them. In part, this is a tribute to the remarkable inefficiency with which the federal government does just about everything. When it comes to welfare, it is time to get out the knife and start cutting.”

Kudos to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) for focusing on this significant federal spending.


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