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Welfare Biggest Budget Item in FY2011

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No one is looking forward to any increase in their taxes – and the concerns are growing around the possible expiration of Bush tax cuts on January 1. Families are worried about making their mortgage and credit card payments, they’re concerned about their student loans and fears they can’t repay them and they’re also worried about health care, the education of their children and a host of other uncertainties in our modern society. Now, though, there’s another worry.

In a report from the Congressional Research Service, it was revealed taxpayers shelled out a mind boggling $745.84 billion for federal welfare spending – which is a thirty two percent increase from 2008. It gets worse though.

The number of legal non-citizens participating in SNAP, another federal welfare program, jumped 190 percent in the years between 2001 and 2010. In fact, its increased seventy seven percent since 2008 alone.

One staff member from the service said that based on the growth rate, the number of legal non-citizens who are on the Federal food stamp rosters is close to 1.63 million, which is double the size of what it was just three years ago.

In total, the government, including its 83 means tested federal programs, spent $1.03 trillion last year. By contrast, the Obama Administration has demanded Congress find ways to ensure there are $248 billion in Medicare savings and another $72 billion in savings from Medicaid.

The report also highlights what is now the third largest welfare category (behind cash and health) and its 378 percent increase over the past three decades.

If you’re wondering how the numbers stack up, what follows is sure to surprise you. The total federal spending on these government public assistance programs easily outpaced fiscal year 2011 spending on other federal expenditures:

  • Non-war defense: $540 billion
  • Social Security: $725 billion
  • Medicare: $480 billion
  • Transportation: $77.3 billion

Alabama Senator Jeff Session wrote in an email to the media,

These astounding figures demonstrate that the United States spends more on federal welfare than any other program in the federal budget…It is time to restore – not retreat from – the moral principles of the 1996 welfare reform. Such reforms, combined with measures to promote growth, will help both the recipient and the Treasury.

He then went on to reiterate the importance of not losing focus,

No longer should we measure compassion by how much money the government spends, but by how many people we help to rise out of poverty.

He also said that the word “temporary” has lost its meaning and that these assistance programs are becoming a way of life; even an expectation.

Welfare assistance…must be to help more of our fellow citizens attain gainful employment and financial independence.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard from Senator Sessions and his thoughts on these public assistance programs. He has said in the past that the growing welfare rolls are placing a heavy burden on society and that President Obama’s misleading promotion and his “disregard for self reliance” has compromised the nation’s financial well-being.

He mentioned again that a USDA employees receive rewards for helping people “overcome their mountain pride”, referencing those who are too prideful to apply for these public assistance programs, until these employees talk them into it. He was quite vocal when that news broke months ago.

Sessions vehemently disagrees with the expanding food stamp rolls, but he’s not alone.

There was a time when families had definitive ideas on money and finances. You got up each day, you went to work, you paid the mortgage, credit card bills and bought groceries once a week. Now, though, the recession has almost been an excuse for some who have the mindset that the tough financial times mean it’s time to skirt those ideals and let the government handle it. If it’s the government’s fault for the recession, the banking industry’s fault for foreclosures, massive losses on Wall Street and fees that were so high, a government bureau had to be put into place to level the playing field and the president’s fault for the high taxes, then what’s left for each of us to take a personal responsibility for our own economic well-being?,

said one counselor with an agency outside Atlanta. And in some ways, it’s a legitimate point, albeit a small point. The Obama administration has allowed the ballooning numbers for the food stamp increase through misleading promotion and a disregard for self-reliance.

Now, though, Senator Sessions has taken it a step further. He’s sent a letter to USDA with requests to immediately “eliminate all materials, training and recruitment efforts that” that’s used to pressure people into receiving benefits. USDA has yet to respond.

So what are your thoughts on this very important issue? Did Sessions go too far or have other politicians dropped the ball? And do you think people have lost their sense of pride? Share them with us in our comments or join the discussion on Twitter and Facebook, too.

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