The middle class gets almost half of U.S. safety-net payments

U.S. entitlement spending is increasingly going to the middle class, according to newly released data by the Congressional Budget Office.

Data: Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Why it matters: As wages have remained stagnant, more people can't afford middle-class basics, and income inequality grows, the middle class is increasingly relying on the federal safety net, according to the new report by Brookings Institutions' Future of the Middle Class Initiative. "It is a mistake, now, to think of welfare as something just for the poor," Richard Reeves, the report's author tells Axios.

White House eyes changes to HHS, welfare programs

President Trump speaking at a podium.
Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

The Trump administration is planning to consolidate welfare programs and rename the Health and Human Services Department, Politico reports.

Why it matters: It may not actually happen — big changes like this usually have to be approved by Congress. However, it shows that the Trump administration is trying to act on ideas promoted by the conservative Heritage Foundation, which has been pushing to move programs to HHS in the name of efficiency. If the reorganization did happen, those health care and social programs could also become an easier target for budget cuts.