off the charts
POLICY INSIGHT
BEYOND THE NUMBERS

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| By CBPP
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CBPP

This week on Off the Charts, we focused on SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps), the federal budget and taxes, housing, Social Security, immigration reform, and state budgets and taxes.
  • On SNAP, Robert Greenstein criticized an unprecedented amendment to the House farm bill that would let states keep hold of the savings from cutting off benefits for people who want to work but can’t find jobs, and he further explained the amendment’s harsh provisions.  He also warned that another proposed amendment would have slashed benefits if a bill reauthorizing farm programs and SNAP were not enacted by the time the previous farm bill expires.  Danilo Trisi noted that new research shows that SNAP is the most effective program pushing against the steep rise in extreme poverty.
  • On the federal budget and taxes, Paul Van de Water explained why two bills being considered in the House Budget Committee would make budget estimates more confusing and less useful.  Chuck Marr listed three reasons why President Obama’s cigarette tax hike makes sense and reiterated that the main point of a tobacco tax is to reduce smoking deaths.  Chye-Ching Huang described the problems with using trickle-down economics to advocate for cutting taxes on multinationals’ foreign profits.  And we highlighted Jared Bernstein’s appearance on National Public Radio’s “Diane Rehm Show,” where he discussed sequestration’s harmful impact.
  • On housing, Douglas Rice pointed out that a House funding bill makes deep cuts in low-income housing assistance at a time when need is rising rapidly.
  • On Social Security, Kathy Ruffing noted that the program faces a significant, but manageable, shortfall and explained how policymakers can shore up its long-term finances.
  • On immigration reform, Edwin Park explained that a proposed amendment to the Senate immigration bill would deny health coverage to many immigrant workers gaining legal status for 15 years or more.  We also highlighted our analysis of the Congressional Budget Office’s cost estimate of the Senate immigration bill.
  • On state budgets and taxes, Michael Mazerov pointed out that despite recent claims by the Tax Foundation, studies do not agree that state tax cuts boost growth.
In other news, we issued a statement by Robert Greenstein on the House farm bill and released papers on President Obama’s tobacco tax plan, the recent Social Security trustees’ report, the House Budget Committee’s “budget transparency” bill, academic research on the impact of state tax cuts on economic growth, a House bill that would artificially inflate the cost of federal credit programs, and the Congressional Budget Office’s cost estimate of the Senate immigration bill. A variety of news outlets featured CBPP’s work and experts recently.  Here are some highlights: The case for a cigarette tax, in one graphic The Washington Post's Wonkblog June 20, 2013 The food stamp fight The Star-Ledger, Editorial June 17, 2013 Food stamps: Congress glimpses into the meaning of $4.50 a day Los Angeles Times June 13, 2013