In today's Q & A, we discuss how states are continuing to feel the recession’s impact with Policy Analyst Phil Oliff.
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Most of the attention in this election season is going to candidates, but ballot questions in several states will greatly affect these states’ ability to maintain public services. Some of the ballot measures would make it easier for states to balance their budgets without excessive cuts in areas like education and health care. Others would make it much harder.
“State officials worry that sick people will gravitate to the [new health insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act], while healthier people who do not need subsidies will buy insurance outside [them],” the New York Times noted on Saturday. Such an outcome, known as adverse selection, could ultimately drive up the cost of coverage in the exchanges significantly and threaten their long-term viability. A report from Health Policy Analyst Sarah Lueck explains how states can design their exchanges to minimize the risk of adverse selection. The introduction to that report is below; you can read the full report here.
Over 1.2 million Americans will face a cutoff in unemployment benefits in December if Congress (which returns to work for a week in mid-November) does not extend the emergency unemployment insurance program for the long-term unemployed before it goes home for Thanksgiving, according to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project.
FactCheck.org has a useful analysis debunking the misleading and downright false statements about taxes in a chain email that’s been circulating the country. The email’s most egregious claim — that taxpayers will owe taxes on the value of their job-based health coverage starting next year — is simply untrue, FactCheck explains.
Kudos to sharp-eyed Seattle technology blogger Eric Engleman, who broke the news today that Texas issued a $269 million assessment against Amazon.com last month for failing to collect sales taxes on its sales in the state. Engleman spotted the disclosure in the company’s third-quarter earnings report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was issued yesterday.
In 1926, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that the rich “are different from you and me,” and Ernest Hemingway supposedly retorted, “Yes, they have more money.” The recent recession didn’t change things much.
Thanks to a new analysis by Social Security’s chief actuary of several possible changes to the program — which the House Subcommittee on Social Security released today — we can calculate the size of the Social Security benefit reductions that Rep. Paul Ryan’s much-discussed budget plan would generate (I analyzed the Ryan plan as a whole earlier this year. Here’s my new analysis of the plan’s Social Security component.)
The Rockefeller Institute of Government issued a report today that says state revenues are in a “gradual recovery” after their record decline of recent years. The new data that Rockefeller has collected for the report (on revenues for the April-June quarter) are helpful. But it’s too early to say that state finances have turned the corner.