One of every six federal dollars goes to programs for poor

Released: 
March 28, 2013

Ten Washington programs that mostly benefit poor Americans cost $588 billion in 2012, or one-sixth of all federal spending.

Ten federal programs that mostly benefit the poor have exploded in cost up more than 1000 percent since 1972.

The support services provided by these programs cost taxpayers $55 billion back in 1972. In 2012, they cost $588 billionone-sixth of all federal spending. They include Medicaid, which cost $251 billion in 2012; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (a/k/a food stamps), $80 billion; and Supplemental Security Income for the disabled poor, at $50 billion.

Most of these programs are means-tested, meaning beneficiaries cant exceed certain income limits. But some serve a broad mix of Americans, like the Pell Grant program for college students, costing $34 billion.

Check out our infographic for more on the rising cost of these social programs. See What Do Others Say for more views, then add to the discussion below. What do you think of these programs? Should we be trying to get their costs under control?