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Welfare spending up 32 percent in four years

No doubt, many Americans are painfully aware that tough times have been nipping at their heels in recent years. The Senate Budget committee confirms that hunch.

“The government spent approximately $1.03 trillion on 83 means-tested federal welfare programs in fiscal year 2011 alone — a price tag that makes welfare that year the government’s largest expenditure, according to new data released by the Senate Budget Committee,” The Daily Caller reported Oct. 18.

That’s due primarily to the extreme downturn in the U.S. overall economy since 2008.

“Welfare spending has grown substantially over the past four years, reaching $746 billion in 2011 — or more than Social Security, basic defense spending or any other single chunk of the federal government — according to a new memo by the Congressional Research Service,” the Washington Times reported.

This four year rise in welfare handouts covers some 80 governmental programs, targeting low-income people around the nation. One reason for the recent upsurge has been with high unemployment more people qualify for assistance. Not until more jobs are created will this trend be curtailed.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee said, “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.”

“Welfare assistance should be seen as temporary whenever possible and the goal must be to help more of our fellow citizens attain gainful employment and financial independence.”

Federal government spending on welfare increased from $563 billion in fiscal 2008 to a whopping $746 billion for fiscal year 2011. That’s a huge increase of 32 percent.

Both presidential candidates have skirted the issue of economic pressure on low and middle income families that have turned to the government for help when they lost their means of self-support.

Yesterday, U.S. Labor Department reported that unemployment benefits increased by 46,000 last week. That doesn’t appear to be an improvement. That’s the highest rate of increase in four months. That will place even more pressure on the welfare system as 46,000 people look for help.

While many folks have turned to the government for assistance, others have found assistance at local food shelves, church aid associations and private donations to help their fellow citizens during this extreme economic time.

Keith Hansen