In Case You Missed It…

October 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm

This week on Off the Charts, we focused on housing, health care, state budgets and taxes, and a constitutional convention.

  • On housing, Barbara Sard explained how the Housing Choice Voucher program helps poor minority families raise children in low-poverty neighborhoods and avoid living in extreme-poverty neighborhoods.  She listed four ways that federal, state, and local agencies can help more families with vouchers live in better locations and described two programs that could advance this goal if sufficiently funded.  She also laid out two policy changes that could improve the lives of families living in public housing.  In addition, we highlighted her commentary on how policymakers can improve children’s chances of a better life.
  • On health care, Paul Van de Water rebutted a recent analysis by Senate Budget Committee Republican staff claiming that health reform would increase deficits.  He also explained why Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs should be excluded from the investor-state dispute settlement provisions of pending trade agreements.
  • On state budgets and taxes, Michael Mazerov debunked the myth that people who leave a state take their incomes with them, harming that state’s economy.
  • On a constitutional convention, we excerpted Robert Greenstein’s Washington Post commentary explaining why a convention could widen political divisions and jeopardize cherished rights and freedoms.

We also released a paper on why claims about the impact of interstate migration patterns on states with relatively high income taxes are deeply flawed.

CBPP’s Chart of the Week:

A variety of news outlets featured CBPP’s work and experts recently. Here are some highlights:

Nation’s Wealthy Places Pour Private Money Into Public Schools, Study Finds
New York Times
October 21, 2014

A constitutional convention could be the single most dangerous way to ‘fix’ American government
Washington Post
October 21, 2014

Paying for schools
Hays Daily News
October 19, 2014

Give Wages Room to Grow
U.S. News & World Report
October 17, 2014

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Two Policy Changes Could Help Public Housing Families

October 24, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Tens of thousands of children whose families can afford decent housing by living in public housing live in extremely poor neighborhoods, as I explained yesterday.  But policymakers can take steps to improve these kids’ access to safer neighborhoods with better schools.

Congress has underfunded maintenance and repair of public housing for decades, causing a substantial loss in the number of units available as projects deteriorate.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) aims to preserve — and, if necessary, rebuild — distressed rental units. … Read more

Two Programs Could Boost Opportunity for Families With Project-Based Rental Assistance

October 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm

More than 700,000 low-income families with children can afford decent housing by living in public housing or privately owned properties that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsidizes.  As we explain in our recent paper, for about 200,000 of these families, having an affordable place to live entails living in an extremely poor neighborhood — where at least 40 percent of the residents have incomes below the poverty line, and crime rates tend to be higher and schools lower performing. … Read more

Medicare and Medicaid Should Be Protected in Trade Agreements

October 22, 2014 at 3:39 pm

CBPP, AARP, the AFL-CIO, Consumers Union, and ten other national organizations have written to the U.S. Trade Representative asking that Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs be excluded from the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions of pending trade agreements.

ISDS would give companies a new legal avenue to challenge U.S. pricing and patent policies for drugs and medical devices: the ability to sue the U.S. government before an international arbitration panel that wouldn’t be subject to normal democratic checks and balances. … Read more

4 Ways to Help More Families Use Vouchers to Live in Low-Poverty Neighborhoods

October 22, 2014 at 2:58 pm

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program has reduced families’ housing cost burdens and homelessness and boosted their housing stability, but its performance in helping families live in low-poverty, high-opportunity neighborhoods has been disappointing, as we explain in our recent paper.

Overall, just about 20 percent of the families with children who use housing vouchers live in high-opportunity neighborhoods with access to good schools, safe streets, and high rates of employment.  Almost 10 percent — including a quarter of a million children — of families in the program live in extreme-poverty neighborhoods, where at least 40 percent of the residents are poor.… Read more

A Dangerous Way to “Fix” American Government

October 21, 2014 at 4:21 pm

“A dangerous proposal is circulating in states across the country that could widen political divisions and jeopardize cherished rights and freedoms,” CBPP President Robert Greenstein explains today in the Washington Post’s PostEverything blog.  He continues:

The push is coming primarily from well-organized, arch-conservative groups seeking to capitalize on the decline in public trust in government to limit the federal government’s role and spending powers.  And the method they prefer is a constitutional convention — the first since the 1787 conclave that produced the U.S.

Read more

Improving Children’s Chances of a Better Life

October 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm

In a new commentary for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, CBPP Vice President for Housing Policy Barbara Sard outlines steps that federal, state, and local agencies can take to help tens of thousands of children and their families avoid living in violent neighborhoods of extreme poverty — and enable more of them to choose to live in low-poverty neighborhoods with high-quality schools.  Here’s the opening:

Nearly 4 million children live in low-income families that receive federal rental assistance, which not only helps them keep a roof over their heads but also has the potential to enable children to grow up in better neighborhoods with more opportunities.  

Read more
CBPP

Health Reform Reduces the Deficit, Contrary to Senate GOP Analysis

October 21, 2014 at 5:00 am

A recent analysis by Senate Budget Committee Republican staff that claims health reform will increase the deficit rests on two dubious propositions.  Under more reasonable assumptions, health reform will reduce the deficit, as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation have consistently estimated.  Just a few months ago, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote, “the agencies have no reason to think that their initial assessment that [health reform] would reduce budget deficits was incorrect.”

How did the Senate Budget Committee’s Republican staff reach such a different conclusion?… Read more

What Housing Vouchers Mean to Poor Minority Families, Part 2: Help in Avoiding Extreme-Poverty Neighborhoods

October 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I explained earlier today that housing vouchers make a big difference for minority families’ ability to live in a low-poverty neighborhood.  They also help poor black and Hispanic families with children avoid neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.

Researchers generally agree that living in neighborhoods of extreme poverty, in which 40 percent or more of the inhabitants are poor, is particularly harmful to children.  Nationwide, nearly 15 percent of poor children live in such neighborhoods.  These neighborhoods are more likely than others to have high rates of crime and violence, poorly performing schools, few college-educated adults, low employment rates, and limited opportunities for physical recreation.… Read more

What Housing Vouchers Mean to Minority Families, Part 1: They’re Better Able to Live in Low-Poverty Neighborhoods

October 20, 2014 at 2:38 pm

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program falls short of its potential to expand children’s access to good schools in safe neighborhoods, as I’ve explained.  Although a voucher makes little difference in a poor white family’s ability to live in a low-poverty neighborhood, it makes a large difference for minority families.

Among poor families, more than twice the share of black children — and close to double the share of Hispanic children — using housing vouchers lived in low-poverty neighborhoods (those with less than 10 percent poverty) in 2010, compared with poor black and Hispanic children generally (see chart). … Read more

Why Money Doesn’t Walk

October 20, 2014 at 11:24 am

We’ve shown that interstate differences in tax levels have little effect on whether and where people move, contrary to claims by some tax-cut proponents.  The related claim — that people who leave a state take their incomes with them, harming that state’s economy — isn’t true either, our new paper explains.

The vast majority of people can’t take their income with them to a new state because they work for someone else.  When people leave a state, they usually also leave their job. … Read more

In Case You Missed It…

October 17, 2014 at 4:08 pm

This week on Off the Charts, we focused on new Census data on poverty and the safety net, housing, state budgets and taxes, food assistance, health policy, and the economy.

  • On the new Census data, Danilo Trisi previewed the statistics and, after their release, explained that safety net programs cut the poverty rate nearly in half in 2013.  Brynne Keith-Jennings reported that SNAP (formerly food stamps) kept 4.8 million people, including 2.1 million children, out of poverty.  Will Fischer noted that rental assistance kept over 3 million people out of poverty.  
Read more