Federal government spending on programs intended for Americans with low or limited income has shown a notable increase in recent years to become the single largest budget item, according to a report released by the Congressional Research Service.
The report said federal spending on the 83 programs the CRS identified as welfare programs totaled $746 billion in the fiscal year ended September 30, 2011.
The total welfare spending in fiscal 2011 is up 32.5 percent from $563 billion in fiscal 2008, although up just 1.8 percent from $733 billion fiscal 2010.
The CRS said spending on healthcare was up by 37 percent between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2011, with the growth primarily due to increased spending for Medicaid.
Spending on Medicaid jumped 38 percent to $296 billion in fiscal 2011 from $214 billion in fiscal 2008, reflecting an increase in enrollment due to the recession.
The report said spending on cash aid increased by 12 percent between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2011, while spending on food assistance jumped 71 percent due to a surge in enrollment in food stamps.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who requested the CRS report, said Senate Budget Committee staff calculated that states spent an additional $283 billion on the federal programs for a total of $1.03 trillion.
The total spent on the program is well above the $725 billion spent on Social Security, the $480 billion spent on Medicare, and the $540 billion spent on non-war defense.
"These astounding figures demonstrate that United States spends more on federal welfare than any other program in the federal budget," Sessions said in a statement on Thursday.
"It is time to restore—not retreat from—the moral principles of the 1996 welfare reform," he added. "Such reforms, combined with measures to promote growth, will help both the recipient and the Treasury."
Sessions has been a frequent critic of the increase in enrollment in programs such as food stamps that has occurred under the Obama administration.
by RTT Staff Writer
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