U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement today concerning the projection, based on Congressional Research Service data, that welfare spending will increase 80 percent over the next ten years:
View the chart and analysis here.
"No longer can we measure compassion by how much money we spend on poverty but how many people we help to rise out of poverty. That is why compassion requires us to reform a broken welfare state that is fostering dependency and hurting families and communities, and failing in the most important goal of helping people achieve self-sufficiency. Our concern for those in need compels us to help more people find gainful employment and the ability to care for themselves financially. Welfare spending has increased thirty percent in the last four years, but the number living in poverty has gone up, not down. The best example of our broken welfare state may be SNAP, or the food stamp program: food stamp spending has increased every single year since 2000, even when the economy is improving. 1 in 6 Americans are now on food stamps and the USDA has an aggressive campaign to enroll millions more -- whether they need the benefit or not. Certainly, identifying those who are receiving benefits but who are not in need and who do not qualify is something both parties should be able to agree on.
We must return to the moral principles of the 1996 reform and the idea that, over time, unwise welfare programs damage not only the Treasury but the recipient. Normal support structures like family, church and community are replaced by federal bureaucracy while the incentive to find work is reduced. President Obama recently said that "every dollar we budget, every decision we make has to be an expression of who we wish to be as a nation, our values.' It is through that prism that we should consider reforms to our welfare programs, ensure resources are targeted to those in genuine need, and help more people transition from dependence to independence."