In 2007, the U.S. spent $207 billion on means-tested welfare, and only lifted 9.7 million of the 37.3 million Americans living in poverty.

Even after accounting for benefits from welfare program transfers that are excluded from official poverty numbers, 27.6 million Americans remained below the poverty line. According to 2008 Census Bureau estimates, all families and individuals living in poverty needed less than $125 billion to lift them above the threshold. Thus, the U.S. spent 1.66 times the amount required to eradicate poverty, while missing 27.6 million Americans.