Can We Fix the Debt Solely by Cutting Welfare Spending?
Some candidates may suggest that we can fix the debt simply by cutting welfare spending, but there is not enough spending in this category to realistically do that. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the cash as- sistance most closely associated with the term “welfare,” only totals 0.5 percent of spending per year (about 0.1 percent of GDP) and basically has not increased since it was first established in the late 1990s. Even including other programs like Supplemental Security Income and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program brings the total to less than 5 percent of spending per year (1 percent of GDP), and these programs are projected to shrink as a share of the economy over time. Any realistic cuts would not solve the debt problem and would prove increasingly inadequate over the long term.
In fact, the largest and fastest growing parts of the budget are our major entitlement programs which include Social Security and Medicare programs that are available to all seniors regardless of income. These costs are growing because our population is aging and health costs continue to rise. Truly solving the long-term debt situation will require slowing the growth of spending in these and other popular entitlement programs.