Federal Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: Overview of Spending Trends, FY2008-FY2015

Source: Karen Spar, Gene Falk, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R44574, July 29, 2016

….Federal programs intended to help poor and low- income people are of ongoing interest to Congress. The federal government spends billions of dollars annually on a wide range of low- income benefits and services and lawmakers routinely conduct oversight and consider legislation related to these programs. Deliberations typically focus on individual programs or their overarching authorizing laws. However, Members and staff also look at low- income policy broadly and have questions about low-income programs and spending in the aggregate. For example, h ow much does the federal government spend altogether each year on programs specifically intended for low-income people? How has this spending changed over time? How is spending allocated among various categories of low- income benefits and services? These questions may appear straightforward but their answers are complex. …. This is the third in a series of CRS reports that address these questions. …. This report focuses primarily on spending trends, both overall and by category. The report includes some limited programmatic details; however, previous versions provide more extensive information on the specifics of each program included in the spending totals. ….