Kudlow: Is Obama Buying the Election with Welfare?

CNBC's Larry Kudlow is asking publicly what many voters have pondered privately: is President Barack Obama exploding welfare to buy votes?

The facts Kudlow cites are alarming

According to Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, means-tested welfare programs soared to over $1 trillion last year. The federal government accounted for $750 billion of that, while $250 billion came from the states, which leveraged federal payments into even larger expenses.

Between 2008 and 2011, federal welfare payments have jumped 32 percent. Food stamps have surged, with 71 percent more spending on the program in 2011 compared with 2008. Health payments, principally Medicaid, have climbed 37 percent.

As Kudlow explains, Mr. Obama's welfare explosion cannot solely be explained by the dismal economy; rather, something known as "categorical eligibility" now allows citizens eligible for one welfare program to automatically or "categorically" be eligible to receive several more.  The practice, which began under President George W. Bush, has skyrocketed under Mr. Obama.  Indeed, as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) explained in a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack earlier this year, research by University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan has concluded that "most of the increased spending on welfare programs (including food stamps) since 2007 is the result of expansions in eligibility, rather than increases in the number of people who would have been eligible under pre-recession rules."

Kudlow says that Mr. Obama's welfare spending spree is simply unsustainable: 

In a larger budget context, reporter Jeffrey H. Anderson uses a Treasury Department study to chronicle the 7-Eleven presidency. In fiscal year 2012, ending Sept. 30, the government spent nearly $11 for every $7 of revenues taken in. The exact figures are $2.5 trillion in tax revenues and $3.5 trillion in spending. In other words, it spent 44 percent more than it had coming in. Previous fiscal years look even worse: The government spent 56 percent more than revenues in fiscal year 2011 and 60 percent more in fiscal year 2010.

All in all, according to Anderson, the government under the Obama administration received $6.8 trillion in taxes and spent $10.7 trillion — 56 percent more than it had available.

Is Kudlow correct?  Is Mr. Obama using welfare to buy votes?  Comment below.


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