Ronald Reagan once quipped that we had a war on poverty and poverty won. And according to a new study by the Cato Institute titled “The American Welfare State: How We Spend Nearly $1 Trillion a Year Fighting Poverty–and Fail,” poverty is still on its winning streak even though the federal government, like it does with failing schools, keeps pumping in money into anti-poverty programs with no rhyme or reason, not knowing if the dollars the government spends actually are being spent wisely and properly.
The poverty rate has risen to 15.1 percent and, according to the study, the federal government will spend “more than $668 billion on at least 126 different programs to fight poverty,” and “that does not even begin to count welfare spending by state and local governments, which adds $284 billion to that figure.”
According to Cato, the United States spends nearly $1 trillion annually on anti-poverty programs, which amounts to $20,610 for every person living in poverty or $61,830 for a family of three in poverty.
Like with nearly every bit of domestic spending, the study found that “welfare spending increased significantly under President George W. Bush and has exploded under President Barack Obama” to the tune of a 41 percent increase.
And yet, despite nearly $15 trillion spent fighting poverty since Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in 1964, the study found that “the poverty rate is perilously close to where we began more than 40 years ago.”
“Clearly we are doing something wrong,” the authors of the study write. “Throwing money at the problem has neither reduced poverty nor made the poor self-sufficient.”