"Government spending on benefits will top $2 trillion this year—an average of $17,000 provided to each household,” USA Today reported in June.

According to the newspaper’s review of state and federal data, about half of the increase can be attributed to the recession, the other half to policies enacted during President George W. Bush’s first term.

Some snapshots from the newspaper’s report:

  • One in every six dollars of Americans’ income is in the form of government benefits.
  • Benefits rose at a 19 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2009, as compared to the last quarter of 2008.
  • In the first quarter of 2009, 16.2 percent of personal income came from benefits such as Social Security, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and health care.
  • A record 33.2 million Americans now receive food stamps, up from 5.2 million last year.

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