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Growth in Means-Tested Programs and Tax Credits for Low-Income Households

CBO – “The federal government devotes roughly one-sixth of its spending to 10 major means-tested programs and tax credits, which provide cash payments or assistance in obtaining health care, food, housing, or education to people with relatively low income or few assets…As shown in this report and an accompanying infographic, in 2012, federal spending on those programs and tax credits totaled $588 billion. (Certain larger federal benefit programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, are not considered means-tested programs because they are not limited to people with specific amounts of income or assets.) Those programs and credits consist of the following:

  • Medicaid,

  • The low-income subsidy (LIS) for Part D of Medicare (the part of Medicare that provides prescription drug benefits),
  • The refundable portion of the earned income tax credit (EITC),
  • The refundable portion of the child tax credit (CTC),
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI),
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF),
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called the Food Stamp program),
  • Child nutrition programs,
  • Housing assistance programs, and
  • The Federal Pell Grant Program.”

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