USA Today is reporting that the number of Americans relying on federal antipoverty programs has reached record levels:
More than 40 million people get food stamps, an increase of nearly 50% during the economic downturn, according to government data through May. The program has grown steadily for three years….
More than 4.4 million people are on welfare, an 18% increase during the recession. The program has grown slower than others, causing Brookings Institution expert Ron Haskins to question its effectiveness in the recession.
As caseloads for all the programs have soared, so have costs. The federal price tag for Medicaid has jumped 36% in two years, to $273 billion. Jobless benefits have soared from $43 billion to $160 billion. The food stamps program has risen 80%, to $70 billion. Welfare is up 24%, to $22 billion. Taken together, they cost more than Medicare.
In addition to the recession, caseloads have increased as Congress and the Obama administration have loosened eligibility requirements.