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July 27, 2010

As the Wall Street Journal reported recently, some seniors who receive Medicare coverage through private “Medicare Advantage” insurance companies rather than traditional Medicare are concerned about the health reform law’s impact on their benefits. They shouldn’t be worried: health reform will strengthen Medicare while protecting all beneficiaries.

July 27, 2010

Even some key members of Congress who agree that President Bush’s tax cuts for people making over $250,000 are unaffordable have raised concerns that letting them expire in December would slow the already weak economy. Fortunately, Congress can boost short-term growth and help reduce long-term deficits: sunset the high-income tax cuts on schedule, re-channel the near-term revenues to far more efficient ways to generate growth and jobs, and use the long-term savings to reduce the deficit.

July 26, 2010

Time is running out for the highly successful subsidized jobs programs that states have created with the TANF Emergency Fund.

The House has voted twice to extend the fund, a 2009 Recovery Act program that will help place an estimated 240,000 low-income parents and youth in subsidized private- or public-sector jobs by its September 30 expiration. The costs of the House extensions were fully offset so they wouldn’t add a penny to the deficit. But in the Senate, an extension has been part of larger bills that have stalled due to conflicts over provisions unrelated to the fund. What happens if Congress fails to act before the fund expires?

July 24, 2010

This week on Off the Charts, we examined why President Bush’s tax cuts for high-income households should expire, the importance of extending the TANF Emergency Fund, the state of state budgets, extending unemployment benefits, the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges, the estate tax, and the Food Stamp Program.

July 23, 2010

It’s no secret that with unemployment much higher than usual during the recession, a growing number of Americans are receiving food stamps to help them afford an adequate diet. In fact, the number of food stamp recipients has jumped by about 13 million (50 percent) since the start of the recession. But you might not know that the Food Stamp Program has handled this increase while becoming even more efficient, as a new Center report shows.

July 22, 2010

A couple of promising developments occurred on the estate tax front yesterday. The Senate soundly defeated (59-39) an effort by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) to repeal the tax permanently. (It expired at the end of 2009 but is scheduled to return in much larger form next year when the 2001 tax cut expires.) And at a teleconference sponsored by United for a Fair Economy, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin called on Congress to reinstate a robust estate tax.

July 21, 2010

In an earlier post I explained that when it comes to the nation’s long-term debt problem, what matters is the size of the debt held by the public, not the gross debt, and warned that the President’s deficit commission would go seriously off track if it focused on the wrong measure. The Center issued a new report today that explores this issue in greater depth. Here’s the executive summary:

July 20, 2010

The Senate’s move today toward extending the Recovery Act’s extra weeks of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed will provide much-needed help to almost 3 million unemployed workers and a boost to the economy, since those workers will spend their benefits quickly to cover household expenses.

July 20, 2010

In this podcast we’ll discuss the Emergency Fund of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program – also known as TANF. I’m Michelle Bazie and I’m joined by the Director of the Center’s Welfare Reform and Income Support Division, Dr. LaDonna Pavetti.

July 20, 2010

As states tally up spending and revenues for fiscal year 2010, which ended June 30 in most states, some (such as Virginia and Connecticut) are finding that they ended their year with their budgets in the black. Here’s what those modest “surpluses” mean — and what they don’t.