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  • Issue Brief posted February 24, 2016 by Robert Rector, Rachel Sheffield Setting Priorities for Welfare Reform

    The United States’ means-tested welfare system consists of over 80 programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and lower-income Americans. Total annual spending on these programs reached $1 trillion in 2015.[1] More than 75 percent of this funding comes from the federal government. The last substantial reform of welfare, enacted…

  • Testimony posted February 11, 2016 by Robert Rector Reducing Hunger and Very Low Food Security

    Executive Summary There are frequent claims of widespread hunger in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has defined hunger as “the uneasy or painful sensation caused by lack of food.” Hunger is a temporary sensation of discomfort; it is very different from and less severe than malnutrition. The most widely accepted measure of hunger is the very…

  • Backgrounder posted February 8, 2016 by Robert Rector, Rachel Sheffield, Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ph.D. Maine Food Stamp Work Requirement Cuts Non-Parent Caseload by 80 Percent

    In 2015, the U.S. government spent over $1 trillion on means-tested welfare aid, providing cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low-income individuals. The food stamp program is the nation’s second largest means-tested welfare program.[1] The number of food stamp recipients has risen dramatically from about 17.2 million in 2000 to 45.8…

  • Commentary posted September 28, 2015 by Robert Rector Poverty in the U.S. — We Spend Much More Per Person on Social Welfare than Europe Does

    Tomorrow, the U.S. Census Bureau will release its annual poverty report. Conventional wisdom holds that the U.S. has a small social-welfare system and far more poverty, compared with other affluent nations. But noted liberal scholars Irwin Garfinkel, Lee Rainwater, and Timothy Smeeding challenge such simplistic ideas in their book Wealth and Welfare States: Is America a…

  • Backgrounder posted September 16, 2015 by Robert Rector Poverty and the Social Welfare State in the United States and Other Nations

    It is generally argued that the U.S. has a small social welfare system compared to other rich nations and far more poverty. Contrary to conventional wisdom, however, noted liberal scholars Irwin Garfinkel, Lee Rainwater, and Timothy Smeeding conclude in Wealth and Welfare States: Is America a Laggard or Leader? that “Welfare state programs are quite large in the United…

  • White Paper posted September 15, 2015 by Robert Rector The Redistributive State: The Allocation of Government Benefits, Services, and Taxes in the United States

    Introduction Each year, families and individuals pay taxes to the government and receive back a wide variety of services and benefits. A fiscal deficit occurs when the benefits and services received by one household or a group of households exceed the taxes paid. When such a deficit occurs, other households must pay, through taxes, for the services and benefits of the…

  • Commentary posted February 10, 2015 by Robert Rector Married to the welfare state

    Fifty-one years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty. Since then, taxpayers have spent more than $22 trillion fighting Johnson’s war, three times the cost of all military wars in U.S. history. Last year, taxpayers spent more than $920 billion on 80 different anti-poverty programs. Despite this spending, the percentage of Americans who are poor…

  • Commentary posted November 21, 2014 by Romina Boccia, Robert Rector Weakening an Asset Test Could Expand the Welfare State

    Before Congress recessed for the midterm elections, lawmakers announced plans to use the current lame-duck session to work on passing a bill called “The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.” Supporters describe the bill as a way to eliminate “barriers to work and saving by preventing dollars saved through ABLE accounts from counting against an individual’s…

  • Issue Brief posted November 17, 2014 by Robert Rector How Welfare Undermines Marriage and What to Do About It

    Historically, marriage has played a critical role in the raising of children. In most cases, the economic benefits of marriage are substantial. Marriage among families with children is an extremely powerful factor in promoting economic self-sufficiency: the ability of families to support themselves above poverty without reliance on government means-tested welfare aid. The…

  • Backgrounder posted November 10, 2014 by Robert Rector, Romina Boccia How the ABLE Act Would Expand the Welfare State

    This summer, a 14-page bill with 379 co-sponsors (193 Republicans, 186 Democrats), which is little known outside the halls of Congress, was reported out of the House Ways and Means Committee.[1] The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (H.R. 647) would establish tax-favored savings accounts, similar to “529” education savings accounts, for individuals with…

  • Commentary posted September 23, 2014 by Robert Rector The War on Poverty: 50 years of failure

    This year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's launch of the War on Poverty. In January 1964, Johnson declared "unconditional war on poverty in America." Since then, the taxpayers have spent $22 trillion on Johnson's war. Adjusted for inflation, that's three times the cost of all military wars since the American Revolution. Last year, government…

  • Commentary posted September 18, 2014 by Robert Rector Miscounting Poverty Again: The War On Poverty After Fifty Years

    Today the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual poverty report. The report is noteworthy because this year is the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s launch of the War on Poverty. But this morning, the Census Bureau reported that 14.5 percent of Americans were poor in 2013. This is essentially the same rate as in 1966, two years after the War on Poverty was…

  • Backgrounder posted September 15, 2014 by Robert Rector, Rachel Sheffield The War on Poverty After 50 Years

    This week, the U.S. Census Bureau is scheduled to release its annual poverty report. The report will be notable because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. In his January 1964 State of the Union address, Johnson proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in…

  • Commentary posted August 6, 2014 by Robert Rector Welfare State Grows as Self-Sufficiency Declines

    For the past 50 years, the government's annual poverty rate has hardly changed at all. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of Americans still live in poverty, roughly the same rate as the mid-1960s when the War on Poverty was just starting. After adjusting for inflation, federal and state welfare spending today is 16 times greater than it was when President…

  • Commentary posted January 7, 2014 by Robert Rector How the War on Poverty Was Lost

    On Jan. 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson used his State of the Union address to announce an ambitious government undertaking. "This administration today, here and now," he thundered, "declares unconditional war on poverty in America." Fifty years later, we're losing that war. Fifteen percent of Americans still live in poverty, according to the official census poverty…