Is America really a welfare state?

Recently, I saw this Tweet on Twitter: “Live tweeting the GOP’s demise on my $500 iPhone while standing in line waiting for my welfare check.”

Surely it was a case of irony and/or satire, or was it possible that the tweeter is really that stupid and ignorant?

And that’s why I wanted to discover the demographics of welfare in America and find the answer to the following question.

Are there really that many liberal deadbeats living off of hard working conservative Americans?

Statistics reported on September 10, 2013 that 12.8 million Americans were on welfare [4.1% of the population]; 46.7 million on food stamps [Many Americans believe that the majority of SNAP—food stamps—benefits go towards people who could be working. In fact, more than half of SNAP recipients are children or the elderly. For the remaining working-age individuals, many of them are currently employed in low income jobs.], and 5.6 million on unemployment insurance.

That means 95.9% of Americans are not living off welfare.

Does that look like the United States is a welfare state?

Total government spending on welfare annually (not including food stamps or unemployment) was $131.9 billion. How does that compare to the total 2012 budget of the United States federal government? Total expenditures in 2012 were $3.538 trillion.

Therefore, the cost to support welfare in the United States was 3.7% of total federal spending. For a comparison, defense spending—the biggest slice of the budget—was $716.3 billion [20%].

Welfare Demographics:

38.8% of recipients on welfare were white; 39.8% black; 15.7% Hispanic and 2.4% Asian.

The New York Times reported on July 19, 2011 state-by-state welfare assistance numbers. I’m only going to report on states that had 100,000 or more people on welfare. If you want to compare all the states, click on the link.

California had 1,216,866 people on Welfare of 38 million—meaning 3.2% were on welfare

New York (the state) had 391,110 of 19.4 million—2.01% on welfare

Pennsylvania had 199,274 of 12.7 million—1.56% on welfare

Michigan had 196,775 of 9.9 million—1.99% on welfare

Ohio had 179,595 of 11.56 million—1.55% on welfare

Tennessee had 144,705 of 6.375 million—2.27% on welfare

Washington (the state) had 124,937  of 6.753 million—1.85% on welfare

Texas had 115,690 of 25.268 million—0.459% on welfare

Indiana had 113,572 of 6.5 million—1.75% on welfare

Massachusetts had 100,419 of 6.65 million—1.5% on welfare

Missouri had 101,916 of 6 million—1.7% on welfare

The Huffington Post says “When asked about participating in specific government social programs, 97 percent of Republicans and 98 percent of Democrats say they have taken part in a government program of some kind, according to a 2008 survey run by the Cornell Survey Research Institute.”

And “Seventy percent of counties with the fastest-growth in food-stamp aid during the last four years voted for the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data compiled by Bloomberg. They include Republican strongholds like King County, Texas, which in 2008 backed Republican John McCain by 92.6 percent, his largest share in the nation; and fast-growing Douglas County, Colorado.” Source: Exposing

And—one more time—Business Insider reports “it is red states [you know, red means states that vote Republican in presidential elections] that are overwhelmingly the Welfare Queen States. Yes, that’s right. Red States — the ones governed by folks who think government is too big and spending needs to be cut — are a net drain on the economy, taking in more federal spending than they pay out in federal taxes.”

Surprise >>>> A Pew Research survey discovered that significant proportions of Democrats (60%) and Republicans (52%) say they have benefited from a major entitlement program at some point in their lives. So have nearly equal shares of self-identifying conservatives (57%), liberals (53%) and moderates (53%). The programs were Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, unemployment benefits and food stamps. Source:

What did we learn from all of these facts?

Discover the National Debt Info-Graphic by President 1945 – 2012


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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7 responses to “Is America really a welfare state?”

  1. Interesting info.

    I would love to see this same analysis put on the corporate side of things… I think we are a welfare state, just NOT for the human beings.

    However, I do take issue with PEW’s inclusion of Social Security in with the other listed programs. It may be an “entitlement program” but it is NOT any form of welfare. Social Security is a taxpayer paid-into retirement plan. We put the money in. Not the fed.

    1. I agree with you about Social Security and from what I’ve read, Corporate welfare is much larger than welfare for individuals. In fact, from what I’ve read, the largest welfare program for people is food stamps and most of the working age adults on food stamps work for poverty wages, which has become a form of corporate welfare for the fast-food industry and corporations like Wall-Mart. When critics of the food stamp program quote numbers, they include the elderly and kids so it looks worse.

      What happens to the working poor without the food stamp program? For sure, if food stamps vanish, fast food and Wall-Mart are not going to pay more to make up the difference for a livable wage.

  2. Hot and Anonymous Avatar
    Hot and Anonymous

    What are we supposed to do with those people who can’t afford to feed themselves because they lost their job and it wasn’t their fault? Let them starve? Run them over and make them roadkill?

    1. Under President Clinton, the welfare system was changed so people on welfare had to go to job training in fields that would lead to a job and total lifetime welfare for any one person was set at five years total. I’m not sure if that includes children or older disabled people who have no way to work.

  3. I think I said this before. It is VERY, VERY difficult to get those “government handouts.” I’ve never gotten any, even when I was dying for want of medical care. It is far easier to starve than get food stamps, live in your car than get subsidized housing, and die than get relief from medical bills EVEN when you have (inadequate) insurance. The people that talk such trash have no idea what they are talking about.

    1. I know you are right. The people who talk trash about the welfare issue are usually ignorant and biased. And when I was doing the research for that post I read that the over-hall of welfare under President Clinton also capped lifetime welfare from the federal government at five years, meaning the feds stop paying at the end of that period. Welfare today is designed to retrain people and get them into jobs again so they end up supporting themselves before that five year lifetime cap ends. Once someone qualifies for welfare and they are still of working age between 18 and 60 something, they have to enter a job training program and show a consistent job search effort. And that five year welfare clock keeps ticking away.

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