This week on Off the Charts, we talked about the federal budget, the economy, state budgets, Social Security, housing, and poverty.
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
The report we released yesterday shows how the House Republican proposal for deep cuts in non-security discretionary programs would affect a number of important programs in the current fiscal year — 2011, which ends September 30. But the proposed cuts for job training and employment services would have serious consequences into the next fiscal year as well, because of how Congress typically funds the programs.
Jim Horney, our Director of Federal Fiscal Policy, has previously explained why House Republican leaders’ proposed cuts in non-security discretionary programs for the current fiscal year (2011) are deeper than they appear. Then yesterday, Jim and several of his colleagues issued a report that details the impact of those cuts, as reflected in a measure now on the House floor, in a number of specific areas, with state-by-state data.
Two governors are proposing this week to raise taxes on their state’s wealthiest residents. Today, Minnesota’s Mark Dayton proposed higher income tax rates on taxable incomes above $150,000 and a surtax on incomes over $500,000; tomorrow, Connecticut’s Daniel P. Malloy is expected to propose a higher rate on incomes over $1 million.
Some 43 million Americans are receiving help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) to afford a nutritionally adequate diet, according to the latest Agriculture Department figures. That works out to 1 in 7 Americans — and 1 in every 4 children. And the need for SNAP isn’t likely to decline significantly anytime soon, given the nation’s large jobs deficit.
Our analysis of data that the Census Bureau released this week shows that the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was one of the single most effective pieces of antipoverty legislation in decades. In 2009, the Recovery Act’s temporary expansion of the safety net kept 4.5 million people out of poverty.
Earlier this week Dean Baker threw some cold water on the tax cut/unemployment insurance deal President Obama recently signed. While he’s right that most of the aggregate demand the deal will generate represents a continuation of current policy, not an injection of new stimulus, most economic forecasts had assumed until last week that Congress wouldn’t continue significant portions of current policy into 2011.
The Wall Street Journal’s determination to use any available shred of evidence to argue that state tax increases send people fleeing to other states reminds me of the old expression that to someone with a hammer, the whole world is a nail.
In recent weeks, the already weak safety net for some of our most vulnerable citizens became substantially weaker. For the first time since 1996 when President Clinton and Congress created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant as part of welfare reform, no additional TANF funds are available from the federal government to help states respond to the large increases in the number of impoverished families as a result of a recession. We’ve just issued an analysis on the topic.
The child nutrition bill that President Obama signed this morning includes an important new option that will allow thousands of schools in high-poverty areas to focus on feeding children rather than processing paperwork. This is a terrific opportunity for states to serve more low-income children through the school meals program.