This week on Off the Charts, we examined the huge projected federal budget deficits, implications of health reform, states and the recession, funding for schools and school lunch programs, and next steps for climate change legislation.
Chuck Marr, our director of federal tax policy, explained how the high-income tax cuts enacted during the Bush years are not only unaffordable, but that their extension beyond this year offers low “bang for the buck” when it comes to stimulating the economy. Jim Horney, director of federal fiscal policy, gave us a sense of how health reform will reduce the deficit (here and here).
Also on the health reform front, we took a close look at the claim that the new law’s Medicaid expansion will place an unaffordable burden on states and found that, in fact, the federal government will cover virtually all of the cost (and the law will actually help states save needed money).
States are already facing massive budget shortfalls, as Nick Johnson, director of state fiscal policy, described while making the case for extending the state fiscal assistance that was in last year’s Recovery Act. This funding would help states continue initiatives to improve their schools and avoid cuts to their education systems. Cutting public services like education alone to balance state budgets – rather than easing those cuts by also raising taxes on those best-positioned to pay more, doesn’t make much sense (as Jon Shure, deputy director of state fiscal policy, described here).
Zoe Neuberger, nutrition policy expert, suggested a key way that the 10,000 schools around the country where at least four-fifths of the children are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price meals could better serve their students.
And, with the Senate expected to see new climate change legislation next week, Chad Stone, chief economist and climate change policy expert, pointed to two fundamental features of last year’s House-passed bill that should be included in the Senate bill.
In other news, the Center released reports on budget cuts at the state level, why federal assistance to states is needed, how a new citizenship documentation option for Medicaid and CHIP is working, how states will be affected by the Medicaid expansion in health reform, how long UI benefits are available, how some key components of health reform will work, and how climate change legislation can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while protecting low-income consumers.