Welfare State Costs Taxpayers More Than $2 Trillion a Year

By:  Bob Adelmann
08/06/2014
       
Welfare State Costs Taxpayers More Than $2 Trillion a Year

Federal, state, and local governments handed out more than $2 trillion in means-tested welfare benefits last year.

Following the release of the latest budgetary statement from the U.S. Treasury, Ali Meyer dove into the statistical morass of charts and graphs to determine just how much the welfare state is paying out in benefits. Meyer, writing at CNS News, concluded that beneficiaries received over $2 trillion from the American taxpayer last year, or almost 60 percent of all federal government spending. This included “means-tested” benefits — which require incomes to be below a certain level to quality for them — as well as “non-means tested” benefits such as Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation and the like.

She missed the mark by half. First off, the Treasury statement only counts federal welfare benefit payouts and consequently leaves out state, municipal, and local welfare programs. Second, she leaves the subject of the cultural impact of turning the United States into a gigantic welfare state to someone else to decipher.

Peter Ferrara declared himself to be up to that task, writing in Forbes last summer about the financial and cultural costs of the welfare state and concluded that no one really knows precisely how much it costs. It’s just simply too large. Ferrara, the current general counsel for the American Civil Rights Union and an analyst for the conservative think tank the Heartland Institute, wrote,

The term “welfare state” does not begin to encompass the totality of America’s commitment of resources to aid the poor. It is more like a vast empire bigger than the entire budgets of almost every other country in the world. America’s welfare empire encompasses close to 200 or more federal/state programs, including 23 low income health programs, 27 low income housing programs, 30 employment and training programs, 34 social services programs, at least 13 food and nutrition programs, and 24 low income child care programs, among others.

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