off the charts
POLICY INSIGHT
BEYOND THE NUMBERS

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CBPP

This week on Off the Charts, we focused on the federal budget, state budgets and taxes, the new Census Bureau data, health care, poverty and the safety net, and income inequality.
  • On the federal budget, Paul Van de Water clarified misconceptions regarding our analysis of the amount of deficit reduction in President Obama’s 2013 budget.
  • On state budgets and taxes, Michael Mazerov explained that Amazon’s decision to start charging sales tax to its customers in California will contribute to a fairer tax structure and the preservation of critical services like education and healthcare.
  • On the Census Bureau data on poverty, incomes, and health coverage, we issued a roundup of several preview pieces to help readers understand the data.  Robert Greenstein released a statement outlining the good, the fair, and the ugly in the Census data.  (Also see items below.)  And we showed five charts from the Census data.
  • On health care, Matt Broaddus previewed the Census data on health coverage and explained that the data show that the number of uninsured Americans fell for the first time in four years.  Edwin Park clarified that the House-passed budget includes large cuts to Medicaid in addition to the Medicaid cuts from repealing health reform.
  • On poverty and the safety net, Arloc Sherman discussed how improvements in the safety net over the past half century have reduced the reality of poverty, even if the improvement doesn’t show up in the official poverty figures.  He also noted that if you count two programs omitted from the official poverty figures, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and SNAP (formerly food stamps), these programs lifted millions of people out of poverty in 2011.  And he explained that poverty would have fallen last year if jobless benefits hadn’t shrunk.
  • On income inequality, Jared Bernstein pointed out that the Census data show income inequality is at historically high levels.  Kathy Ruffing explained that one measure of inequality, the Gini index, shows a steady increase over time.
In other news, Robert Greenstein released a statement on the 2011 Census data and we held a media briefing to examine the data in detail.  Ahead of the data release, we issued reports on what to watch for regarding health coverage and poverty.  After the release, we issued a report showing that the number of uninsured fell in 2011, largely due to health reform and public programs. We also issued a paper on how a proposal on the Florida ballot in November would cut funds for schools, health care, roads, and other public services.  Finally, we updated our chart book on the legacy of the Great Recession and our backgrounder on the number of weeks of unemployment insurance benefits currently available in each state. A variety of news outlets featured the Center’s work and experts this week.  Here are some highlights: Local groups rally, say “No on 3” Orlando Advocate, Newsblog September 13, 2012 House GOP Budget Would Cost States Ten Times More Than Expanding Medicaid Think Progress September 13, 2012 Number of uninsured Americans drops by 1.3 million, census report shows Washington Post September 12, 2012 The Good, the Fair, and the Ugly: Understanding the New Census Report on Poverty, Income, and Health Coverage Huffington Post September 13, 2012 The official poverty rate last year was 15 percent. Here’s what that misses Washington Post's WonkBlog September 12, 2012