Ignoring Billions of Dollars
A key reason that the Census undercounts the financial resources of the "poor" is that, remarkably, it ignores nearly all welfare spending when calculating the "incomes" of persons in poverty. Thus, as far as the Bureau is concerned, billions of dollars in in-kind benefits to poor Americans have no effect on their incomes. Out of $184 billion in welfare spending, the Census counts only $27 billion as income for poor persons. The bulk of the welfare system, including entire programs that provide non-cash aid to the poor, like food stamps, public housing, and Medicaid, is completely ignored in the Census Bureau's calculations of the living standards of the "poor." The missing welfare spending that is excluded from the Census Bureau poverty reports comes to $158 billion, or over $11,120 for every "poor" U.S. household.
The Census Bureau's poverty reports should be replaced by a new survey that counts income and assets accurately. With accurate counting, the number of poor persons would be shown to be only a small fraction of the Census Bureau's current estimate of 31.8 million.