The rise of the middle class safety net

Welfare reform is in the air again. Congressional Republicans are pushing for greater work incentives to be attached to the receipt of certain benefits, especially SNAP and Medicaid. Our colleague Ron Haskins has made the case in favor here; our colleagues Lauren Bauer and Dinae Whitmore Schanzenbach have warned against here. (Brookings is a broad church, you see).

Most people following the debate could be forgiven for thinking this is solely a conversation about the help offered to the poor. This is not the case. An increasing share of spending on the safety net goes to families above the poverty line. Low-income and even middle-income families are also more reliant on means-tested transfers than in the past.

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