The non-partisan and independent Congressional Research Service released a report on October 16th that finds that welfare is now the largest federal expense at $1 trillion dollars through 83 different programs. In the four years President Obama has been in office, welfare spending has increased 32%. Programs such as food assistance have seen the greatest increase in spending, with 71% more spent in 2011 than in 2008 due to a growth in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. To put it in perspective, more money is spent on federal welfare than on defense, Medicare, or Social Security.
Instead of spending with such little effect, we need to focus on fixing the problem at the root. In making our programs more effective and affordable, we can do a better job aiding those who need it. The State Health Flexibility Act, the State Nutrition Assistance Flexibility Act, and the Welfare Reform Act of 2011 are a few examples of reforms to welfare that can help get us on the right path. In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act was passed which focused on 1 of the 83 welfare programs. Today this bill is a model of success and shows that through job training, temporary assistance, and aid to families with dependent children we can help Americans effectively and efficiently.
As we watch the welfare and unemployment numbers rise, we need switch the focus to helping people get back on their feet. The $1 trillion dollars spent on welfare is a sign of how much Americans are struggling in poverty and need opportunities that lead to financial independence. Along with my republican colleagues, I am dedicated to finding solutions to get people out of poverty and back to work.