In Case You Missed It…
This week on Off the Charts, we focused on the federal budget and taxes, housing, food assistance, poverty, health care, and state budgets.
- On the federal budget and taxes, we posted a video of Robert Greenstein discussing how the debate over the tax and spending changes scheduled for January may affect prospects for, and the timing of, an agreement on a balanced approach to long-term deficits. Chad Stone highlighted Senator Patty Murray’s recent speech explaining why policymakers shouldn’t let misguided fears about the so-called “fiscal cliff” panic them into making unsound fiscal decisions, and he pointed to new data that confirm that while the financial crisis and recession took a toll on household incomes, especially at the very top, a rebound is likely underway. Chye-Ching Huang explained how claims that letting the high-income Bush tax cuts expire would harm small businesses are vastly exaggerated.
- On housing, Barbara Sard outlined the need for a federal renters’ tax credit to rebalance the nation’s housing spending to help low-income households and examined the affordability problems that low-income renters face. Will Fischer described how current rental assistance programs reach only a fraction of families in need and explained how a federal renters’ tax credit could help fill that gap.
- On food assistance, Stacy Dean highlighted the important role that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) plays in child nutrition.
- On poverty, Indivar Dutta-Gupta described how the Earned Income Tax Credit is even better for children than we thought, helping them succeed both as students and, in adulthood, as workers.
- On health care, Judy Solomon refuted claims that people in states with federally run health exchanges won’t be eligible for premium tax credits to help them buy coverage, and she explained that the Supreme Court’s ruling on the health reform law did not strike down the law’s maintenance of effort rules. Jesse Cross-Call debunked arguments from proponents of converting Medicaid to a block grant, who have repeated exaggerated claims of Rhode Island’s Medicaid savings, and January Angeles discussed a new study that estimates that Arkansas will save more than $350 million between 2014 and 2025 through the Medicaid expansion under health reform.
- On state budgets, Elizabeth McNichol listed a number of important steps that states can and should take to tackle serious, long-term structural budget problems. Edwin Park clarified that state Medicaid spending — while growing — is still a distant second behind state spending on K-12 education.
In other news, we released a new analysis that shows that allowing the high-income Bush tax cuts to expire will affect few small businesses, a paper explaining that low- and moderate-income uninsured people in states with federally operated health insurance exchanges will be able to receive subsidies to help them buy coverage, and a fact sheet that explains SNAP’s critical role in helping children. We also updated our Policy Basics paper on the number of weeks of unemployment insurance benefits currently available in each state.