This week on Off the Charts, we focused on the economy, the federal budget and taxes, the “sequestration” budget cuts, and safety net programs.
On the economy, Chad Stone noted that the February jobs report shows an encouraging increase in payroll employment but paints a more complicated picture of unemployment; he also outlined seven important numbers from the report. Michael Leachman explained that the job losses in state and local government have been much bigger than experts had thought.
On the federal budget and taxes, Robert Greenstein described some of the disturbing aspects of last year’s budget from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan ahead of the release of his new budget next week. We excerpted Jared Bernstein’s recent Senate Budget Committee testimony, which noted that tax expenditure reform offers a deficit-reduction solution palatable to both sides and argued that new revenues should be a part of future budget deals. Richard Kogan listed three reasons why cancelling unused funds that Congress provided for discretionary programs in prior years isn’t a painless source of deficit savings. Joel Friedman explained why the Senate should provide updated funding bills for as many executive departments as possible.
On sequestration, Richard Kogan highlighted new Office of Management and Budget calculations of the size of the cuts to different program areas. Zoë Neuberger explained that sequestration could deny WIC nutrition support to 575,000 to 750,000 at-risk low-income women and children. We pointed to Douglas Rice’s guest post for the Open Society Foundations on how the cuts to housing programs will harm many low-income families.
On safety net programs, LaDonna Pavetti showed that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which provides basic assistance to families with little or no income, provided a weak safety net during and after the recession.