Today's Edition Local Missouri National World Opinion Obits Sports GoMidMo Events Classifieds Newsletters Contests Special Sections Jobs

Bert Dirschell

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

How generous is the federal government with our tax dollars?

According to a 2012 report by the United States Senate Committee on the Budget, if 2011 cumulative spending on federal means-tested welfare programs (payments based on level of income) were converted to cash it would equal $167.65 per day per household living below the poverty level. The report went on to say that state means-tested welfare spending increased this amount by about 35 percent. For comparison, the 2011 median household income was $137.13 per day. There are other welfare programs that are not means-tested.

A 2017 paper by the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 2019 means tested welfare spending would be 38 percent higher than it was in 2011, and 110 percent higher than it was in 2007, before the recession started.

Just running some rough numbers it appears to me that current total federal and state means-tested welfare spending is equal an amount that would raise the annual income of every low income household up to $45,000. In 2017, just the federal means-tested spending equaled 9.3 percent of the total adjusted income reported on all individual tax returns.

I don't understand why, with near record low unemployment rates, and the highest median household income in our history, federal welfare spending must keep increasing. (Actually I do understand, as long as we voters put up with them the majority of federal politicians will continue buying votes by handing out ever increasing amounts of free stuff.)

If the responsibility, funding and administration, for indigent care were returned to the county level you can be sure that we would get more "bang" for out taxpayer buck. County level politicians don't want that to happen, it's much easier to justify spending when it is funded by "free money" from the federal government.

The federal government spent $3.98 trillion in 2017. Total adjusted income reported on individual tax forms was $8 trillion. Since business doesn't pay taxes, they just pass them along to the end consumer of their product (sort of like a hidden VAT), the federal government cost us half of the money made by individuals in 2017.

If you are curious you can find a list of over 80 means-tested programs at

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with our commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. Our commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.