Has the Safety Net Greatly Expanded over the Last Five Years?
An Examination of Heritage Foundation Claims
 Census data show that the number of poor people increased by 5.4 million, or 17.1 percent, between calendar year 2000 and calendar year 2004. Poverty data are not available by fiscal years, which start on October 1. Eligibility for means-tested programs often is based on income in previous months or the previous year.
 This does not mean that expenditures per poor person declined in real terms for every one of the other programs, but that expenditures for these programs declined in the aggregate.
 Census data show that the amount by which the average poor person fell below the poverty line increased by more than $200 (or 8 percent) between 2000 and 2004, after adjusting for inflation, and that the percentage of people living below half of the poverty line (measured both as a proportion of all Americans and as a portion of poor Americans) rose over these years. In addition, Agriculture Department data show that the average real income of food stamp households fell during this period.
 Based on estimates from the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office, when the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are fully in effect, the costs of the EITC expansion and the new refundable Child Tax Credit enacted in 2001 will account for four percent of the costs. This reflects costs in 2011, and assumes that the tax cuts are extended. The cost of the tax cuts, as used here, includes the additional cost of relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax that results from the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. If the AMT cost is not included, the low-income tax credit expansions will account for 5 percent of the total cost of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts when those tax cuts are fully in effect.
 See William G. Gale, Peter R. Orszag, and Isaac Shapiro, “The Ultimate Burden of the Tax Cuts: Once They are Paid For, Low- and Middle-Income Households Likely to be Net Losers, on Average,” Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 2, 2004.