This week on Off the Charts, we focused on the federal budget, the economy, federal taxes, state budgets, health care, and Social Security.
- On the federal budget, Indivar Dutta-Gupta warned that a House proposal to eliminate the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is part of a troubling recent trend in the House of cutting or eliminating programs that help vulnerable people.
- On the economy, Chad Stone pointed out that job growth in April was disappointing and that the economic cost in terms of fewer jobs, less income, and lower growth remains very high.
- On federal taxes, Chuck Marr explained why Congress should cover the cost of avoiding a sharp rise in student loan rates by closing a business tax shelter, not by eliminating a fund that promotes preventive health care. Chye-Ching Huang concluded our Tax Reality Series on how raising taxes at the top might affect the economy: she showed that raising taxes on high-income people would not heavily affect small businesses and entrepreneurs, highlighted evidence that higher taxes are compatible with economic growth and job creation, and discussed how policymakers can raise taxes at the top.
- On state budgets, Erica Williams outlined a costly plan by Kansas lawmakers to give wealthy individuals and many businesses large tax cuts while raising taxes on the working poor. Mike Leachman noted that the large and continuing loss of education jobs will likely affect the quality of students’ education.
- On health care, Paul Van de Water explained why Social Security numbers shouldn’t be on Medicare cards. Shelby Gonzales warned that the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s recent vote to eliminate bonuses for states that improve children’s health coverage would make it harder for eligible low-income children to get coverage. Dave Chandra dispelled claims that health insurance exchanges (the state-based marketplaces that health reform calls for to give consumers a choice of private health plans) will burden state finances.
- On Social Security, Kathy Ruffing pointed out that a recent New York Times story understates the large role of demographic factors in the rise in Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) spending.
In other news, we released Chad Stone’s statement on the April employment report, a report on the impact of eliminating SSBG, and “Policy Basics” backgrounders on marginal and average tax rates and tax exemptions, deductions, and credits.