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Awaiting the COLA Announcement

October 15, 2012

Update, October 16:  The Social Security Administration announced this morning that the December 2012 cost-of-living adjustment (which recipients of Social Security and certain other programs will see in their January checks) will be 1.7 percent — as we estimated in this post below.  The maximum wage and...

House-Passed Buffett Rule Doesn’t Merit the Name

September 24, 2012

“Taxes,” Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. famously said, “are what we pay for a civilized society.”  His reflection comes to mind in light of legislation, which the House passed last week, that would make it simpler for Americans to make voluntary contributions to reduce the public debt.

9-24-12tax.jpgThough it’s...

Gini Index Confirms Rising Inequality Over Several Decades

September 13, 2012

As my colleague Jared Bernstein has noted, yesterday’s Census Bureau report gives further evidence that inequality is worsening.  Yet the bureau’s discussion of one measure of inequality, the...

Why Is Labor Force Participation Shrinking?

September 5, 2012

With the latest jobs report coming out Friday, the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) recent budget and economic update provides important context for one closely watched  figure:  the labor force participation rate.

The percentage of people over age 16 who are working or actively seeking work has...

Happy Birthday, Social Security

August 14, 2012

Social Security marks its 77th birthday today.  This highly successful program pays benefits to 56 million Americans.  It’s the single most important source of income for its elderly beneficiaries, contributing on average two-thirds of income...

Defending Disability Insurance

August 9, 2012

The Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program provides modest but vital benefits to workers who become unable to perform substantial work on account of a serious medical impairment, as we explain in a new paper.

Although some critics charge that the program’s spending is “...

Comparing the Social Security Shortfall and the Cost of the Bush Tax Cuts

May 14, 2012

Social Security’s trustees recently reported that — over the next 75 years — Social Security will have a shortfall of 2.67 percent of taxable payroll, or 1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  That is, raising taxes by an average of 1 percent of GDP could put Social Security on a sound footing over 75 years.  How does that compare...

Social Security Trustees' Reports Tell Consistent Story

May 11, 2012

The Social Security trustees’ latest annual report showed some deterioration in the program’s long-term finances since their 2011 report, which in turn was a bit more pessimistic than 2010’s.  But, as our new analysis of the 2012 report explains, the overall picture has...

SSI Benefits Vital to Severely Disabled Children and Their Families

May 7, 2012

The Brookings Institution will host an event May 8 to debate how we help some of our most vulnerable citizens — disabled children and their families.  An important part of the safety net for such families is Supplemental Security Income (SSI),...

Don’t Forget Demographics’ Role in Rising Disability Costs

May 2, 2012

A recent New York Times story on the rise in Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) spending understates the large role of demographic factors and, as a result, may give undue ammunition to critics who urge harsh cuts to the program.

The story says that...