This week on Off the Charts, we focused on the federal budget and taxes, the economy, state budgets, health care, and Social Security.
- On the federal budget and taxes, we featured Robert Greenstein’s take on House Speaker John Boehner’s remarks on the debt limit, and Paul Van de Water explained that the budget resolution that Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced this week would slash programs that benefit low- and moderate-income Americans while providing tax cuts for the wealthy. Chye-Ching Huang demonstrated that the current preferential tax rate for dividend income does not enhance economic growth or support the stock market. We also highlighted two of our recent policy backgrounders on key elements of the tax system.
- On the economy, Hannah Shaw noted that more than 200,000 jobless workers lost benefits this week in the latest round of cuts to unemployment insurance.
- On state budgets, Nicholas Johnson responded to misleading claims in a Wall Street Journal editorial supporting Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin’s proposal to phase out the state’s income tax, and Michael Leachman warned that a proposal to eliminate North Dakota’s property tax would damage the state’s economic potential. Elizabeth McNichol also pointed out that the recovering stock market is improving state and local pension funding.
- On health care, Edwin Park showed that lower-than-expected spending on the Medicare Part D drug benefit is not due to reliance on private health plans and therefore does not support House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s proposal to convert Medicare into a “premium support” system.
- On Social Security, Kathy Ruffing explained the inconsistency in claiming, as many members of Congress have, both that extending President Bush’s tax cuts would be affordable in the current fiscal environment and that Social Security’s shortfall constitutes a grave fiscal threat.
In other news, we released Robert Greenstein’s statement on Speaker Boehner’s remarks on the debt limit and LaDonna Pavetti’s testimony on the relationship between TANF state maintenance-of-effort (MOE) requirements and their interaction with work requirements. We also issued reports on the reasons for lower-than-expected Medicare drug costs and North Dakota’s Measure 2, which would ban property taxes.