Roughly 100 million people—one-third of the U.S. population—receive aid from at least one means-tested welfare program each month. Average benefits come to around $9,000 per recipient. If converted to cash, means-tested welfare spending is more than five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the United States.
At the beginning of this year, only four of the 80-plus federal welfare programs had work requirements; the Obama Administration has now suspended the work requirements in two of these. After the Obama Administration suspended the work requirement from the food stamp program in 2009, the number of people on food stamps doubled.
Ponder that first paragraph a moment. If we cut every poor person in a world a check for their “share” of what we spend on welfare, we could eliminate poverty. Poof. Gone.
We’re not doing that, though. We’ve turned what should be a safety net into a giant sheet of flypaper, on which we stick the needy practically forever. These days, the quickest way to fall into a life of poverty is to get on the government dole. There are, as Heritage notes, precious few requirements to get the poor off of welfare and standing on their own and it’s only getting worse.
We’re going the wrong way.