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off the charts

In Case You Missed It...


This week on Off the Charts, we talked about the budget and the economy, taxes, state fiscal issues, and health care.

  • On the budget and the economy, we showed why a balanced budget amendment would be ill-advised and economically harmful.  Chad Stone cited Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and a new Congressional Research Service report on the perils of reducing deficits through sharp, immediate spending cuts.  Kathy Ruffing explained that House Ways and Means Republicans are mischaracterizing a new Treasury Department report on the debt.  And Robert Greenstein appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” to discuss the economic recovery.
  • On taxes, Chuck Marr compared two very different “tax holidays” that policymakers are considering to boost the sluggish economy.  On the tenth anniversary of the 2001 tax-cut law, Chuck also assembled five charts that show the impact of the tax cuts on the deficit, the economy, and people’s incomes.
  • On state fiscal issues, Nicholas Johnson dissected Wall Street analyst Meredith Whitney’s new report on state finances to correct some of her fiscal fallacies.
  • On health care, Edwin Park debunked the myth that the Medicare drug benefit’s lower-than-expected cost primarily reflects competition among private insurers.  Dave Chandra showed that states are moving forward on the health reform law’s insurance exchanges.

In other news, we explained why a balanced budget amendment would harm the economy and showed that the version the House Judiciary Committee is considering would require spending cuts even more extreme than those in the House-passed budget plan.  We updated our state-by-state breakdown of unemployment insurance policies and revised our slideshow on the state budget crisis and the economy.  We evaluated states’ online services for key low-income benefit programs.  We refuted claims that the health reform law’s maintenance-of-effort requirement in Medicaid impedes states’ efforts to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse.  We also revised our study of proposed cuts to the WIC nutrition program.  We revamped our study explaining why the House-passed plan to cut SNAP (food stamps) rests on false claims about the program’s growth.  Finally, we updated our chart book, “The Legacy of the Great Recession.”