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News Welfare now 21% of Federal Budget

  1. Oct 18, 2012 #1
    According to a new report out of the Senate Budget committee the 83 programs that make up the category of "welfare" spending have grown in spending by 32% since 2008 and now make up 21% of the federal budget in 2011 a larger portion then any other category on its own (defense,SS,Medicare being the 3 other large categories). This is projected to increase for 2012.


    With out eliminating any of the programs entirely how/where do we cut to get this under control?

    Or do we choose overlapping programs to eliminate wholesale after all administrative costs must be significant on that number of programs.

    Or is this not even a problem in the eyes of some?

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 18, 2012 #2


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    Just had a flick through the list, are you saying that most of these problems are not worth spending on?

    Moreover this question is largely unanswerable unless anyone has had a look at how much money these programs can make. A lot of those programs seem to be education based. It mentions that ten of the projects take up the bulk of the cost but doesn't mention which. The usefulness of this seems curtailed by the lack of further info.
  4. Oct 18, 2012 #3
    I think they all have merits and were created for good reason but the aggregate is simply to much.

    If there are 50 Million people (47 million on food stamps last I saw) and we are spending ~1 trillion dollars it would probably be better to just give them 20,000 a piece and be done.

    Forget the programs and all the administration just give 20,000 dollars in refund to the 50 Million lowest income tax returns. That would be roughly 36.5% of tax returns filed.

    Now I know more people would need to file but lets say filing goes from 137 million to 200 million still 25% of people would get a 20K check would that solve poverty?
    What if they split it up into monthly payments?

    I think a trillion dollars a year to help the poor is proof enough that it has not helped the poor stop being poor in the past 30 years we need to do something different.

  5. Oct 18, 2012 #4


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    I don't really see a problem with the numbers. Have you looked at the list? Its quite inclusive. If it were just "Welfare", like your title, as in the cut-a-check to the poor program, then I'd be upset. But this includes, but is not limited to:

    Multiple School Food Programs
    Pell Grants+Work Study
    Teaching Grants
    Public Works Development (I assume this is large)
    Water and Waste Disposal for Rural Communities
    Homeless Assistance
    Public Housing
    Foster Care Programs
    Adoption Programs

    A lot of programs that I feel my taxes SHOULD be going toward. While I agree that there might be some fat to trim (probably a lot to be honest) I don't feel that should include CUTTING any programs for no other reason than "21% is a big number".

    I'd really love a breakdown of how that "21%" is divided up to these 80+ programs.

    And why would they lump in "Public Works and Economic Development" #REF.
    How is that "welfare" at all? Because you're building public infrastructure for people that can't afford to build their own cities?

    I don't know, looking at that list I feel like its money well spent. I agree there should be tighter restrictions on Food Stamps, as frequenting lower-income cities (Flint, MI for undergrad) let me experience an overwhelming abuse of the food stamp program. Nearly evertime I went grocery shopping someone was standing near the register with a bunch of alcohol and tobacco offering to buy my groceries for me if I'd pay them cash (As they couldn't purchase alcohol with their card).

    I'm not intimidated by the 21% budget number though, no.

    #REF : http://www.federalgrantswire.com/grants-for-public-works-and-economic-development-facilities.html
  6. Oct 18, 2012 #5


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    Well, 45 million people, and 78 billion was spent on food stamps, that amounts to about $1700 a person, not $20,000.
  7. Oct 18, 2012 #6
    I realize Hepth that the entire amount was not food stamps I used the number of people on food stamps as a starting point for a number of people who our government considers in need of aid.

    Where do you see that food stamps was only 78 Billion by the way and for what year?

    So a trillion dollars a year in aid to the poor is appropriate that's fine if you feel that I just wonder if maybe there was a better way of helping the poor since we have been trying this method for a while now and it is only seeming to get worse. IMO
  8. Oct 18, 2012 #7


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    It was from an latimes article
    Remember that report includes a lot of stuff, not just things that directly help the poor. I mean, I don't consider Foster Care/Adpotion Programs as "Welfare for the Poor" but rather "Welfare for the People". I guess if you consider a Foster Child as "Poor" in that he can't pay a family out of his own pocket to take care of him, then ok.

    I don't see it as "a trillion dollars a year in aid to the poor". Like I said, I feel it would be more beneficial to see a real breakdown and judge each program on their own merits. Otherwise this "21%/trillion" will be misinterpreted as a trillion on food stamps, or a trillion on "welfare", etc.
  9. Oct 18, 2012 #8
    Could you imagine the social backlash that would arise if it was proposed that the government spend 1 trillion dollars in giving the unemployed and poor $20,000 each?

    Holy cow...
  10. Oct 18, 2012 #9
    I agree I would love to see a true break down of at least the 20 largest programs

    I just found a great website I had never been to before that has state by state data about poverty and some of the programs in question.

    Monthly food stamp payments

    Distribution of population relative the the Federal Poverty Limit (subjective as its based on income and not international standard of living)


    So 28% of the population are below 138% of the FPL and 52% of the population make 2.5 times the FPL or more.

    Sounds like 52% should pay some tax 28% should get some support and the middle 20% get left alone.
  11. Oct 18, 2012 #10
    You want people off welfare, get employment back up. The whole point of welfare is to kick in when times are hard! Its not that the programs have exploded, its that economic conditions have been awful so more people need a bit of help to get by.
  12. Oct 18, 2012 #11

    D H

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    Most of them pay some tax.

    Some just don't pay income tax. They still have payroll taxes, state and local sales taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes (directly if they own their house, indirectly if they rent), ...
  13. Oct 18, 2012 #12
    We are told the recession ended in 2009 by the President do you mean to imply you do not believe him?

    30% growth since 2008 is a bit extreme even during the down times we have.

    Its not that I want people off of welfare I want us to find a better way of helping people that actually helps them there are very few problems that are solved by throwing money at them. We have tried that approach we need to tweak it and move forward.

    We can not sustain a budget that has this large of an outlay with limited success when Social security is fast approaching a collapse point with only 2.8 (2010)workers paying in per recipient. A government that is borrowing $0.40 for every dollar it spends and maintain the roles government exists for infrastructure defense and foreign relations. Something has to give or everything has to give something.

    I don't know the answers just trying to have a conversation.
  14. Oct 18, 2012 #13


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    Well, we could do things like require attendance to good educational or vocational programs. Also, make sure parents take care of their children right (those first couple years are pretty important and even well-intented parents can "do it wrong" if they're not informed).

    But then we're starting to take away rights... so the right will have to concede to either losing rights so that we can enforce proper practices of prevention.. or providing welfare for people who were free to not practice prevention. The possibility of just letting them die because they didn't prepare is off the table (Aesop's Grasshopper and Ants).

    There's surely more creative/inventive alternatives, but that requires seed money to investigate. Like an incentives-based program that would essentially mix the two. But you're still going to have people cheating the system or opting out. There's always going to be the war between regulations and regulation-hacking.
  15. Oct 18, 2012 #14


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    So true. The people who need help now are often hard-working folks who lost their jobs in the recession or in its aftermath. Get them back to work, and they won't need the extra help. To the contrary, they will be paying income taxes, payroll taxes, etc, and increasing government revenue.
  16. Oct 18, 2012 #15

    D H

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    Oh please. That's bordering on trolling.

    It's the National Bureau of Economic Research, not the President, that decides when a business cycle starts and ends. Good thing, that. If Presidents had their druthers there wouldn't be recessions. Or at least they wouldn't be called that.

    So what's a recession? Per the NBER, (http://www.nber.org/cycles.html)
    Contractions (recessions) start at the peak of a business cycle and end at the trough.
    The onset of a recession doesn't necessarily mean the sky has fallen. Recessions start at the peak of a business cycle. Things can still be pretty sweet economically after a recession begins, particularly if the peak was high and the decline is small. Similarly, the end of a recession doesn't necessarily mean that everything has suddenly flipped from gloomy to rosy. Recessions end at the trough of a business cycle. Things can still be pretty gloomy economically after a recession ends, particularly if the trough was low and the increase is small.

    In the case of our most recent recession, the decline that marked the onset was huge. The sky came pretty close to falling. The increase that marked the end of the recession has been positive but tiny. Yes, the recession is over, but things are still down.

    Another factor is how the NBER defines a recession. They look primarily at gross domestic product and gross domestic income. Poverty can still be on the rise when a recession is decreed to be over. Poverty has in fact continued to rise since the end of the recession. It was 13.2% in 2008, 14.3% in 2009, 15.1% in 2010, and is expected to be around 15.7% for 2011 (those numbers are supposed to come out shortly).
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2012
  17. Oct 18, 2012 #16
    Your right D_H I apologize
  18. Oct 18, 2012 #17
    What about subsidies?
  19. Oct 24, 2012 #18


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    does the rebate of half his tax burden to romney (less than 15% as opposed to 30% for many poorer people) count as "welfare"? i just need to know the definitions of the words.
  20. Oct 24, 2012 #19


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    "Rebate"? "Tax burden"? Does the government send Romney a big check? Is it written somewhere that Romney has a tax burden of 30%? Lets start with the meaning of those words. I think it informs to where you're going with application of the word "welfare"...

    Have you checked a dictionary or wikipedia for definitions of these words?
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
  21. Oct 24, 2012 #20


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    I would prefer that the term "entitlement programs" were used rather than "welfare".

    The problem is much worse than just a bump up to 21%, though. If we look at all entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, TARP and all other mandatory entitlement programs and interest payments, the cost exceeds total reciepts for the Federal Government.

    If we keep just these programs, (forget about Obamacare!) we run a deficit! If we tried to run our government in a pay as you go fashion, we have nothing left for Defense, government employees, DEA, DOE, National Parks, Education, highways, FAA, NASA, or ANYTHING considered discretionary.

    You can read this for yourself in the 2013 Whitehouse budget. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2013/assets/tables.pdf [Broken]

    The Outlays in the budget are summarized in Table S-5. It's broken down into three categories: 1) Discretionary Programs, 2) Mandatory Programs and 3) Interest. Using data from the most recent reporting year, 2012, the total of 2) and 3) are $2.477 trillion dollars. In the same table, Total Reciepts from all sources is $2.469 trillion dollars. Applying these reciepts to just our interest and mandatory entitlement programs leaves us with a deficit of $8 billion. No money for anything else... including Obamacare!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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