Welfare spending rises significantly under Obama

Barack Obama

It goes without saying that George W. Bush was a big spender. In fact, he was the biggest spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson, who implemented the so-called “Great Society,” creating new entitlements — Medicare and Medicaid. Some Republicans argue that Bush’s spending spree was mostly for defense after 9/11, but doesn’t tell the whole story.

Bush increased spending on a variety of non-defense programs, raising non-defense discretionary spending by 5.4% during his eight years in office. In a study on welfare spending published earlier this year by the Cato Institute, Michael Tanner noted, “Federal welfare spending increased significantly under the Bush administration.” Democrats, playing the part of budget hawks, were complaining about budget deficits and the national debt. Barack Obama, then a senator from Illinois, said that Bush’s spending binge was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”

But while the the fiscal irresponsibility of Bush was outrageous, as Tanner explained, President Obama “has thrown money at anti-poverty programs at an unprecedented rate.” How quickly has welfare spending grown? According to a new report from the Congressional Research Service, welfare spending under President Obama has grown by 33%, a truly astounding number:

A new study by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service finds that federal spending on anti-poverty programs has increased 33 percent since 2008, when President Obama was elected.

The study, commissioned by Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), included traditional welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, Pell grants and 80 other federal programs but excluded veterans assistance programs. Together, the federal government spent $746 billion in 2011 on these programs in 2011, up from $563 billion in 2008.

ost of the increase came from spending due to Obama’s stimulus, the CRS study states.

Staff of Sessions calculates that when you add $283 billion spent by states on federal anti-poverty programs, the total reaches $1.03 trillion.

The CRS study shows that broadly defined, anti-poverty spending was higher than Social Security or Medicare or base defense spending in 2011, when Social Security’s was $725 billion, Medicare’s was $480 billion and non-war defense spending was $540 billion.

The report found that Medicaid costs grew by 37 percent while spending on food stamps grew by 71 percent.

Of course, Obama’s apologists will argue that the country was in a recession and more spending on welfare programs was needed. But here we are four years later, and we’re still spending heavily on welfare programs since the economy hasn’t improved — no thanks to the increase in burdensome regulations and near constant threat of tax hikes under Obama, businesses aren’t creating many jobs.

The idea that Obama has reined in spending, as was suggested earlier this year by Rex Nutting at MarketWatch, is patently absurd. If the 33% rise in welfare spending in welfare spending doesn’t tell you what, then what will?

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