Seventeen years after Bill Clinton said "we are ending welfare as we know it," welfare spending as a percentage of our national output has nearly doubled, from 2.2 percent of Gross National Product in 1989 to 4.3 percent last year. People who earn wages near the poverty level supplement their incomes with a long list of federal benefits, including food stamps. Medicaid, child care, and cash wage subsidies, plus school lunch (and even breakfast) for their kids.
Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, the country's expert on welfare statistics, has concluded that: "Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, government has spent $19.8 trillion (in inflation-adjusted dollars) on means-tested welfare. In comparison, the cost of all military wars in U.S. history from the Revolutionary War through the current war in Afghanistan has been $6.98 trillion (in inflation-adjusted dollars). The War on Poverty has cost three times as much as all other wars combined." Welfare pays more than a minimum-wage job in 35 states. Remember, welfare benefits are tax free, so their dollar value is even greater. EITC is full of all sorts of fraud. $110 billion in EITC payments were given out during the past decade to people who were not qualified.
Legislation to raise the minimum wage would raise many low-wage earners above the income threshold that qualifies them for benefits and thus result in reduced welfare spending. Republicans could support.
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