Last week we noted how right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton continues to insist that the average family on welfare receives $61,000 worth of benefits a year despite the fact that this claim is entirely false.
“Last year, we had 60 anti-poverty programs in government,” he stated. “Government averaged spending $61,000 per poor family last year. Right now, if you’re on welfare — and there is no work requirement for welfare — if you’re on welfare right now, you make more than teachers do in 13 states and more that secretaries do in 39 states and that’s not working a single step.”
As we have pointed out every time we have heard Barton make this assertion, this entirely misleading claim was first put forth by the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee back in 2012 and was, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained, derived by relying on “a series of serious manipulations of the data that violate basic analytic standards and are used to produce a potentially inflammatory result.”
Even the Weekly Standard recognized this when it stated that “not all households living below the poverty line receive $61,194 worth of assistance per year”:
New data compiled by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee shows that, last year, the United States spent over $60,000 to support welfare programs per each household that is in poverty. The calculations are based on data from the Census, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Congressional Research Services.
“According to the Census’s American Community Survey, the number of households with incomes below the poverty line in 2011 was 16,807,795,” the Senate Budget Committee notes. “If you divide total federal and state spending by the number of households with incomes below the poverty line, the average spending per household in poverty was $61,194 in 2011.”
This dollar figure is almost three times the amount the average household on poverty lives on per year. “If the spending on these programs were converted into cash, and distributed exclusively to the nation’s households below the poverty line, this cash amount would be over 2.5 times the federal poverty threshold for a family of four, which in 2011 was $22,350 (see table in this link),” the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee note.
To be clear, not all households living below the poverty line receive $61,194 worth of assistance per year. After all, many above the poverty line also receive benefits from social welfare programs (e.g. pell grants).
Barton simply doesn’t seem to care that this claim that he makes regularly is misleading and untrue, which is why he continues to make it.