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Welfare Spending Now Largest Budget Item

8:45 AM, Oct 18, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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A new report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service finds that the largest federal budget item is spending on welfare programs. To support the 83 programs that CRS identified as welfare programs, the federal government spends $745.84 billion. 

That dollar amount exceeds the $725 billion spent by the federal government on Social Security, $480 billion on Medicare, and $540 billion on non-war defense.

In all, the U.S. government, including federal and state governments, spends in excess of $1 trillion on welfare. "Based on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Oxford Handbook of State and Local Government Finance, Budget Committee staff calculated at least an additional $283 billion in state contributions to those same federal programs, for a total annual expenditure of $1.03 trillion," the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee finds.

Here's a chart prepared by the committee, showing the break down in expenditures (the welfare bar represents state and federal spending combined):

The welfare programs, 83 in all, range from pell grants for college students to the Food Stamps program to the free or reduced lunch plan to community development block grants to Indian housing block grants, and seemingly everything in between.

Here's how the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee breaks down the spending between the federal and state governments: 

And here, form the CRS report, is the breakdown of the federal spending:

"The exclusively federal share of spending on these federal programs is up 32 percent since 2008, and now comprises 21 percent of federal outlays (this share too is more than Social Security, Medicare, or defense)," the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee write. "As a historical comparison, spending on the 10 largest of the 83 programs (which account for the bulk of  federal welfare spending) has doubled as a share of the federal budget over just the last 30 years. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the amount expended on these 10 programs has increased by 378 percent over that time."

Here's the CRS report:

CRS Report on Welfare Spending

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