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After I published my article stating that SNAP (food stamps) don’t cost the American taxpayer as much as they think they do, a right-wing friend of mine shifted a bit to stating that welfare is the issue.  Well, this made me decide to run the data on how much TANF benefits cost the average American each year.

Based on my calculations on the previous mentioned post, Americans generate roughly $13,554,322,498,437 in income each year.  For those who are a little too lazy to look at the other post, this was calculated by taking the estimated number of Americans, subtracting the current unemployment rate, and multiplying that by the average American salary.

After a bit of searching, I was able to locate the financial data for TANF which is available publicly by the Administration for Health and Families (a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services).  According to their published document of financial spending regarding TANF, $31,649,201,568 was paid out in 2013.  Seems like a lot, right?  Not really.

Let’s now determine how much that actually costs the average American taxpayer.  Based on the previously stated figure of $13,554,322,498,437 in yearly generated income, $31,649,201,568 is %0.2 of that total.  If we now take the average American’s income of $44,888.16 per year, this leaves us with a yearly cost from each American of $89.77 (rounded up to the nearest cent).  I don’t know about you, but I spend far more than that in beer each year.

It’s also to note that the spending I have used here also includes administration and job placement/advancement assistance as well. If we solely calculate this based on the funds directly provided to those individuals, the impact to the American taxpayer is significantly lower.

 

We Accept Food Stamps

 

One of the biggest arguments that I see come out of Fox News and other far right-wing conservatives is that food stamps should be cut or dramatically reduced.  While some people certainly do abuse the system, they are by far the minority.  Even including the individuals that may abuse their SNAP benefits, the impact on your tax dollars as fairly insignificant according to my research.  Let’s take a look at the numbers:

According to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau, we have an estimated 318,857,056 people living in the US. Of course this can be argued that this may not actually be the number of available US citizens, so to make everyone happy, we’ll deduct the current unemployment rate of 5.3%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which brings us to an estimated number of 301,957,632 working Americans (rounding down to the nearest whole number).

Now that we have the estimated number of working Americans, we can now take a look at the average American’s income.  The most recent data for this can be found at the Social Security Administration’s Average Wage Index page.  According to the Social Security Administration, the average individual wage was $44,888.16 in 2013.

If you’re following me, you should have now come to the conclusion that 301,957,632 working Americans, making an average of $44,888.16, generate a total of $13,554,322,498,437.12.

Now that we know the total income that Americans generate each year, let’s take a look at how much SNAP benefits are paying out.  According to the USDA’s yearly reports, SNAP paid out $74,156,770,000 in 2014.

Well, we’re down to the fun stuff now.  If SNAP is paying out 74.1 billion dollars, how much is that actually costing the American taxpayer? Roughly %0.55 of income.

That’s right.  To feed the roughly 46.5 million Americans on the SNAP program, it only costs each person about half a percent of their income.  If you make the average American’s salary of $44,888.16, it costs you an estimated $246 per year.  I don’t know about you, but that’s an insignificant amount of money.  To put that in perspective, if you are a single man using Scott toilet paper, it would cost you around $55 per year.  Yes, a family of 4 spends more in toilet paper (assuming of course that woman use double to TP) than the average American pays to provide SNAP benefits.