Which American politician said the following? “The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.” Had to be a mean-spirited Tea Party conservative, right? Wrong. President Franklin Roosevelt included these words in his 1935 State of the Union Address.
Twenty-nine years later, the American welfare state was still relatively small, consuming only 1.2 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). The American family was also still intact, with 93 percent of children born into stable families. But then President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty happened. Forty-five years and $16 trillion later, thanks to big government, poverty is winning. Thanks to over $900 billion a year (over 5 percent of GDP) of spending on over 70 means-tested welfare programs spread over 13 government agencies, more than 40 million Americans currently receive food stamps, poverty is higher today than it was in the 1970s, and 40 percent of all children are born outside of marriage.
Since he moved into the White House, President Barack Obama has only doubled down on the War on Poverty’s failure. His fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget would have increased spending on programs for the poor 42 percent above FY 2008 levels. Looking past the current recession, President Obama’s budget would spend over $10.3 trillion on means-tested welfare programs over the next 10 years.