Growing the safety net…for the middle class?

by Ryan Streeter on April 8, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Catherine Rampell  writes about some interesting data points in a study from last year by Robert Moffitt from Johns Hopkins:

Spending on the major safety-net programs nearly quadrupled between 1970 and 2010, and that’s after adjusting for inflation and population growth…[T]he biggest increases in spending have gone to those who were middle class or hovering around the poverty line. Meanwhile, Americans in deep poverty — that is, with household earnings of less than 50 percent of the official poverty line — saw no change in their benefits in the decade leading up to the housing bubble. In fact, if you strip out Medicare and Medicaid, federal social spending on those in extreme poverty fell between 1993 and 2004.

Arthur Brooks has been drawing attention to this quite a bit over the past year – namely, that failing to reform entitlements ultimately hurts low-income people the most.