This week on Off the Charts, we focused on the federal budget and taxes, state budgets, and housing.
On the federal budget and taxes, Paul Van de Water warned that Governor Mitt Romney’s proposals to cap total federal spending, boost defense spending, cut taxes, and balance the budget could require extraordinarily large cuts in other programs. Chuck Marr explained why former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin’s proposed four-step path to tax reform could actually increase both deficits and inequality, and Chad Stone argued that policymakers should scrap the debt ceiling. Arloc Sherman highlighted evidence that Americans living in deep poverty have experienced greater hardship since the federal government weakened the safety net in the 1990s.
On state budgets, Nicholas Johnson cautioned that a bill signed by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback raises taxes on low-income seniors and working families while funding tax breaks for the wealthiest households and corporations, and it could well force cuts in spending on education and other public services. Michael Leachman contrasted the Kansas plan with Maryland’s more balanced approach of spending cuts and revenue increases, and Phil Oliff noted that our latest survey of state budget shortfalls shows that state budgets are improving but still face a long and uncertain recovery.
On housing, Douglas Rice commended the Senate Appropriations Committee’s recently approved funding bill for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for prioritizing the renewal of rental assistance for vulnerable families and rejecting cost-saving measures that would harm low-income families.