The following is a breakdown of the larger welfare budget. This is not a list of social welfare spending, but rather the type of welfare that comes under the most criticism: one-way transfers of benefits that require no immediate service or payment in return. Technically, Medicaid is the largest item, but this is a special exception, since about three-fourths of Medicaid goes to the elderly, the blind and the otherwise disabled.

The purpose of this list is to show two things. First, AFDC and Food Stamps are by far the largest items on the welfare budget, since they are usually awarded together to welfare recipients. Critics of welfare who try to add up every form of welfare imaginable and then claim that Welfare Queens live on $20,000 a year will find there is not enough money in the budget to make that an across-the-board generalization. Second, it shows how much of the welfare budget goes to things like school loans, job training and veteran's medical care. Some argue that one of the largest items, the Earned Income Tax Credit, almost fails to qualify as welfare at all, since it is a tax refund that workers earn.

Combined Federal, State and Local Welfare Budget, 1992 (millions)1
Medicaid                      $118,067

AFDC                            24,923

Food Stamps                     24,918

Supplemental Security Income    22,774

Lower income housing asst.      12,307

Earned Income Tax Credit         9,553

Veterans medical care            7,838

Stafford loans                   5,683

Social Services (Title 20)       5,419

Pell Grants                      5,374

Low-rent public housing          5,008

General medical assistance       4,850

Foster Care                      4,170

School Lunch                     3,895

Pensions for needy veterans      3,667

General Assistance               3,340

Head Start                       2,753

Food supplements,

    Women, infants and children  2,600

Training for disadvantaged 

    youth and adults             1,744

Low-income energy assistance     1,594

Rural housing loans              1,468

Indian Health Services           1,431

Summer youth employment          1,183

Maternal and child health        1,059

JOBS and WIN                     1,010

Job Corps                          955

Child care block grant             825

School Breakfast                   782

Child care for AFDC                755

Nutrition Program for Elderly      659

Housing interest reduction         652

Child and adult care food program  624

"At risk" child care               604

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1 Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, "Cash and Noncash Benefits for Persons with Limited Income: Eligibility Rules, Recipient and Expenditure Data, FY 1990-92," Report 93-832 EPW and earlier reports.