This week on Off the Charts, we focused on the federal budget and taxes, state budgets and taxes, health care, housing, and safety net programs.
On the federal budget and taxes, Richard Kogan explained that $1.5 trillion in deficit savings would stabilize the debt over the coming decade and laid out what will happen if automatic “sequestration” cuts take effect beginning March 1 as scheduled. Chad Stone said that pursuing too much deficit reduction too fast would lead to a drag on the economic recovery. Chye-Ching Huang noted that a territorial tax system could significantly worsen the problem of tax avoidance by multinational corporations.
On state budgets and taxes, Nick Johnson listed four serious challenges that threaten states’ ability to pay for essential public services. Erica Williams warned against sweeping tax and budget proposals being considered in some states that could burden low- and middle-income residents. Michael Leachman explained why North Carolina’s proposed cut in jobless benefits would harm both unemployed workers and the state’s economy.
On health care, Paul Van de Water illustrated how raising the Medicare eligibility age would raise costs, not reduce them; and he described why concerns over the Medicare funding “trigger” are misguided.
On housing, Douglas Rice explained how sequestration would hurt housing programs.
On safety net programs, we highlighted Robert Greenstein’s Senate testimony in which he said that deficit reduction should avoid changes that weaken the safety net. Dottie Rosenbaum explained that SNAP’s recent growth shows the program is responding, as designed, to economic hardship and that spending on the program will fall as the economy improves.