Money spent on welfare recipients exceeds average U.S. income

There’s an old saying: If you’re not going to get out of the car to help push, at least take your damn foot off the brake.

In this upside-down economy, the American taxpayer is pushing a car with its brakes fully engaged by welfare recipients.

The 2011 median household income was $50,054, or $137.13 per each day of the year. Assuming the breadwinner of this average household is an hourly employee working 40 hours a week and 50 weeks a year, that would put his pay scale at a shade over $25 an hour. Subtract withholding taxes and that wage-earner takes home about $22 for each hour worked.

As taxpayers, these are the ones pushing the car. Now, what about the riders?

According to a recently released Senate Budget Committee report, the total in benefits received — money, food stamps, housing, child care and the administrative costs to implement these programs — comes to a whopping $168 per day. If they were earning this sum, just like our average household breadwinner above — 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year — their hourly wage would amount to almost $31 per hour.

Part of the problem is program redundancy.

Katie Pavlich, writing for Townhall, reported that the Congressional Research Service “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. The total amount spent on these federal programs, when taken together with approximately $280 billion in state contributions, amounted to roughly $1 trillion.”

Not only can we expect things to get worse, the president is providing for it.

“Under the President’s FY13 budget proposal, means-tested spending would increase an additional 30 percent over the next four years,” Pavlich wrote.

In a recent article, liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof made the following concession: “This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.”

Again, I don’t mind pushing. I just want people to take their damn foot off the brake.
Read more at Townhall.

Welfare vs. working


  • jane klassy

    We need jobs not welfair and Obama phones!! Why should the hard working people work for lazy people that do not even take the time to learn how to read ect ect. I always wondered when i road by a welfair office how soooo many of them can drive nice cars.

  • seazen

    This is how the right wing propaganda machine works. Invent some new definitions, twist the truth, and announce some totally bogus conclusions to trumpet for the lazy press. This time, pretend a whole host of unrelated programs are "welfare" and are being received as benefits by low income people.

    "The con is pretty easy to see when you read the actual CRS report. Senate Republicans are counting 83 separate (and wildly different) programs as "welfare" in order to make the case that the government is spending more on poor people than old people. The majority of this money is Medicaid and CHIP, which are healthcare spending, which is increasing for the same reason that Medicare spending is increasing, which is that healthcare costs are increasing. (And Medicaid is much less generous than Medicare, because it is a program for poor people, not old people.)

    They include other things now to count as welfare, including Pell Grants, public works spending, Head Start, child support enforcement, the Child Tax Credit, Foster Care assistance, housing for old people, and much more. They're also counting the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is, traditionally, the form of "welfare" that conservative Republicans actually support. Basically, all social spending (though specifically not spending on rich old people or on healthcare for veterans with service-related disabilities, which Republicans requested be excluded from the CRS report) now counts as "welfare." "

    How about we deal with facts instead of playing games.

  • patty

    Seazen, I view 'social spending' when done by the government as welfare. If one personally does not willing give money, services or goods and that is forced on us, that is welfare when done on any government.

    See the lyrics of the song "If 10 Percent Is Good Enough For Jesus ( It Oughta Be Enough For Uncle Sam)" by Ray Stevens.

    • seazen

      Great thinker and economist that Ray Stevens. Speaking of Jesus, I assume he was a welfare supporter since he wanted to feed and clothe everyone.

      • Libertylady

        Seazan… Jesus wanted people to help the truly less fortunate FROM THEIR OWN PERSONAL FUNDS, PERSONAL GIVING, not GOVERNMENT TAKING AND REDISTRIBUTING. Read your Bible. Jesus advocated giving to those who, through no fault of their own, had come upon hard times, like the crippled, widows, orphans, the perpetually sick and infirm.

        BTW, did you ever hear of "Those who do not work, shall not eat", or MAKE YOUR OWN MONEY for YOURSELF, not leech it off others through government confiscation of the fruits of one's labors. Get off of your sanctimonious, profoundly ignorant high-horse, bud.

    • Bryce Anderson

      So what? Whatever your views on what constitutes reasonable, proper spending, they don’t change the fact that whoever came up with these calculations is pretending every penny of assistance is going to folks below the poverty line, when in reality it’s spread across a wide swath of the population. They are also taking pains to hide what sort of “assistance” is actually being offered, and to whom, in order to spread a false notion that “the poor” are parasites.

  • wylie mitchell

    would rather be on welfare than a crooked politician.don't know anybody on welfare making that much money.most of thta is administration costs or waste.politcians make that much in bribes and payoffs.

    • wylie mitchell

      also the take home on $25/hr is closer to $18

  • CH

    …and saezen exhibits the typical left-wing "progressive" response: make accusations of racism and class elitism, and attempt to divide the issues and bury any arguments in the weeds. Social welfare programs are just that, WELFARE, no matter which individual program. The author never implied that any one person collects from all programs at any given time (even though I'm sure we are aware, and saezen even concedes, that many recipients do indeed collect from many programs simultaneously). Instead, the author stated that the sum of the parts is killing our budget and increasing our debt with excessive spending. But why should you care if we are saddled with a huge debt? We can just spend some more borrowed money to get us out, right?

  • j

    Forgive me if i doubt the math coming out of any GOP run Senate Budget Committee. Because you've tricked me before. For example: The Iraq war did not pay for itself. Providing huge tax cuts to the upper 2% in 2001 didn't increase jobs, and that strategy never worked. The logic of the Ryan budget.

    The total spent on these programs included administration costs. These administration costs never go to the poor households, these costs create jobs!

    Welfare is temporary! Most programs you can only get for several years. These individuals are getting a temporary 'free' ride because of hopefully temporary hardships in their lives, possibly beyond their control.

    This study was based on roughly 80 overlapping federal means-tested welfare programs. There could be all sorts of statistic cherry picking in the sum of those costs. If the programs are overlapping, possibly one family could never have the two overlapping at the same time? Perhaps not all are entitlement programs?

    I could research this myself. But i sure would prefer anyone who wants to make a political point with this number, that they report a little better one what it means. And if the GOP hadn't told me so many WHOPPERS the last 12 years, i might have an easier time believing this.

    • seazen

      Trying to add facts and logic into this discussion is a worthy, if unappreciated, task. There seems to be some new illness that prevents folks from grasping the essential role that that our "public sector" has always played as we seek to establish the necessary conditions for life, liberty, justice, and equality of opportunity. Add the refusal to accept what the essential drivers of the current deficit really were (two wars on a credit card, tax cuts, and a wildly out of control banking system) and all that is left is the inclination to blame the poor, the disadvantaged, the elderly, and immigrants.

  • morstar150

    How do I get on the dole? I am ready to take the whole system down.

  • Ragdoll

    Wow – you're exactly why Christians are getting a bad name these days.

  • Holly572

    To get welfare without working, you have to be a single parent, you can get about $187 per month, you must go through with paternity tests and child support enforcement(which the government keeps to reminburse for the check they gave you). You also have to do either volunteer work, go to school, or get a job to get off the dole. If you fail to do so, you are sanctioned, and you lose your check. If you don't complete a program and get a job and off welfare at the end of five years, you CAN NEVER GET WELFARE AGAIN.

    Now, as for other programs that were considered welfare by the republicans who quoted the budget, I ask you…

    1. do you want to stop 4 year olds from going to school?

    2. do you want children of poor working people to have no health insurance?

    3. if you get rid of EITC, what's the incentive for the poor to work at all?

    4. If you cut off energy assistance payment to the elderly, will your conscience bother you when granny freezes to death?

  • John F

    This post makes a some errors in fact. First, the author looks at HOUSEHOLD income, and then attributes it all t a single person within the household. Second, the author looks at all social spending, and then calculates it as thought it all goes to only those living at or below the poverty level. Much of that money, however, goes to people living above the poverty level. So the actual amount spent per person on these programs is almost certainly less than the $168 per day the author claims.

    That being said, however, it's also important to note that not all liberals believe in giving money for nothing (I'm one of 'em). Franklin Roosevelt, in fact, was very much against that sort of thing, calling it, "the pauperism of the dole." The money he spent on the poor was spent giving them jobs, not handouts. I say that, instead of guaranteeing everyone an income, we ought to guarantee every able-bodied person a job. If you can't find work, then I'm all for seeing to it that you can still put food on your table and clothes on your back. But I also feel justified in requiring that you give something in return. Clean up by the highway, help rehabilitate the national parks and other infrastructure. But do SOMETHING.

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