The Government Accountability Office released congressional testimony this week looking at Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. TANF, which replaced unrestricted welfare in 1996, has reduced welfare rolls and encouraged recipients to obtain work. Unfortunately, TANF’s goals have been undermined.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program provides $5 billion annually to the states, which distribute the funds to businesses, nonprofits, and homeowners. Unfortunately, the states do a poor job making sure the money isn’t lost to fraud and abuse.
When describing spending growth in federal programs, I often need to use words like “soaring” and “explosive.” But growth in federal health spending is almost beyond superlatives to describe it, and it will increase even faster as a result of President Obama’s new health legislation.
As an opponent of government growth, I’m interested in what we can learn from history to help us reverse the trend going forward. We need to understand the mechanisms of government growth if we are to combat the disease.
Earlier this week I criticized the U.S. Conference of Mayors for going to Washington and groveling for more federal hand-outs. Let me provide some more background for my criticisms with a look at federal budget data. The first chart shows that since 1960, total federal subsidies to state and local government have increased an astounding 1,173%.
As Congress hashes out an agreement behind closed doors to expand the government’s role in health care, a Medicaid story out of New York serves as another reminder that government is part of the health care problem, not the solution. Audits released by the state’s comptroller found $169 million in misspent funds, including a $196,000 cab bill for a woman who took a daily $300 taxi ride to visit her son in Albany for three years.