Transition Tax to Pay for Infrastructure Isn’t a Repatriation Tax Holiday

November 13, 2014 at 1:52 pm

As policymakers mull corporate tax reform, it’s important to distinguish between two proposals that are often confused:   a repatriation tax holiday and funding infrastructure through broader corporate tax reform, such as through a transition tax on offshore profits.

A repatriation tax holiday encourages U.S. multinationals to return overseas profits to the United States by offering them a temporary, much lower U.S. tax rate on those profits.  It’s voluntary, saves money for companies, and increases deficits.

Lawmakers tried this in 2004 and it was a complete policy failure:  contrary to their promises, companies generally didn’t use the repatriated funds for more U.S.… Read more

Attack on “Risk Corridor” Program Falls Apart

November 13, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Congressional Republicans this fall may seek to repeal or block health reform’s temporary “risk corridor” program, designed to help cover any higher-than-expected costs for insurers that offer plans in the new marketplaces while sharing in the savings if costs are lower than expected.  They’ll likely make misleading claims about the risk corridors like those from Senator Marco Rubio and other Senate Republicans in a recent letter to House Speaker John Boehner.  These attacks simply don’t hold up under scrutiny.  Contrary to the Rubio letter:

  • The Administration has full authority to make risk corridor payments.
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Sequestration’s Toll: 100,000 Fewer Low-Income Families With Housing Vouchers

November 12, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Forced by the sequestration funding cuts to scale back their voucher programs, state and local housing agencies were helping about 100,000 fewer families in June 2014 than in December 2012, before the cuts took effect (see graph).  Our new paper shows that agencies are beginning to restore some vouchers to use in the final months of 2014 and explains that Congress can support these efforts by raising voucher funding for 2015, as a Senate bill would do.


The sequestration cuts have come at a particularly bad time. … Read more

Douglas Rice

Letting Tax-Credit Provisions Expire Would Push Millions Into Poverty

November 12, 2014 at 1:55 pm

As Republicans and Democrats look for areas where they can work together, they should be able to agree to make permanent three key provisions of two pro-work tax credits:  the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  More than 16 million people in low- and modest-income working families, including 8 million children, would fall into — or deeper into — poverty in 2018 if these three provisions expire as they are currently scheduled to do after 2017, our new paper (with state-by-state data) shows. … Read more

Veterans and the Safety Net

November 11, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Veterans’ Day is an appropriate time to highlight some ways that the safety net helps many low-income veterans and active-duty members of the military make ends meet.  It’s important to note that policymakers’ actions in areas like health coverage and tax credits for working families have a big impact on veterans and their families.

SNAP (formerly food stamps):  Roughly 1.7 million veterans live in households that participate in SNAP at some point during the year, and roughly 980,000 live in households that participate in an average month.  … Read more

Progress Against Veterans’ Homelessness Shows Value of Rental Assistance

November 10, 2014 at 3:50 pm

One cause for celebration this Veterans’ Day is the impressive recent progress in reducing homelessness among veterans described in our updated paper.  The number of homeless veterans has dropped by 33 percent since 2010, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finds.  That still leaves roughly 50,000 veterans without homes on any single night, so we still have work to do.  But we’re moving in the right direction.

What’s behind these gains? While it’s difficult to isolate factors like the recovering economy or recent anti-homelessness initiatives, a large share of the credit likely goes to the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher program, which provides rental assistance to homeless veterans in combination with case management and clinical services through VA medical centers.… Read more

Rental Assistance Helps More Than 340,000 Veterans Afford Housing

November 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Rental assistance helps 343,000 veterans — most of them elderly or with disabilities — afford housing, our updated paper shows (see graph).  It apparently played a central role in the 33 percent decline in veterans’ homelessness since 2010, and it allows veterans to devote more of their limited resources to other basic needs, like food or medicine.

Congress should keep these facts in mind as it makes funding decisions on rental assistance programs in coming weeks — decisions with high stakes for veterans and other low-income families who receive help or are on long waiting lists for it.… Read more

States Can Stand Up for Veterans by Expanding Medicaid

November 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Roughly 215,000 veterans in 23 states are uninsured and denied Medicaid because their state has refused to take up health reform’s Medicaid expansion.  Half of them live in five states:  36,000 in Texas, 32,000 in Florida, 20,000 in Georgia, 17,000 in North Carolina, and 12,000 in Tennessee.

Most veterans get health coverage from their employer, but for those without access to job-based coverage, substantial gaps exist.  While some veterans receive coverage through the VA health system, not all qualify.

Health reform, however, has greatly expanded uninsured veterans’ access to health coverage. … Read more

In Case You Missed It…

November 7, 2014 at 3:51 pm

This week on Off the Charts, we focused on housing, state budgets and taxes, health reform, and jobs.

  • On housing, Barbara Sard showed that low-income families’ need for housing vouchers far exceeds the supply. Douglas Rice explained why a careful review of the evidence shows that good neighborhoods can improve children’s well-being. Will Fischer called on Congress to expand a program that helps local housing agencies obtain private investment to revitalize public housing.
  • On state budgets and taxes, Michael Leachman highlighted an interactive map on changes in state K-12 funding (see below) and posted a video on why education funding matters for the future of the U.S.
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Using Private Investment to Preserve Public Housing

November 7, 2014 at 2:50 pm

As it writes the final housing appropriations bill for fiscal year 2015, Congress should include a Senate Appropriations Committee-approved provision to expand the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD).  Our new paper explains why expanding RAD makes sense, as it would help repair the nation’s public housing stock and preserve needed affordable housing for vulnerable seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children.

RAD helps local housing agencies revitalize and preserve some public housing by permitting them to convert public housing units to “Section 8” rental assistance subsidies, which in turn enables them to more easily obtain private investment for renovation.… Read more

Boehner, McConnell Mislead on Health Reform’s Employer Mandate

November 7, 2014 at 11:06 am

House Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell called this week for a major change in health reform’s requirement that larger employers offer health coverage to employees who work 30 or more hours a week or face a penalty.  Claiming that the 30-hour threshold is “an arbitrary and destructive government barrier to more hours,” they propose raising it to 40 hours.  In reality, however, that step would lead to fewer hours and more part-time work — the exact opposite of what their rhetoric about “restoring” the 40-hour work week implies.… Read more

Today’s Jobs Report in Pictures

November 7, 2014 at 10:33 am

Today’s solid jobs report shows the labor market continues to improve in important ways but that wage growth continues to languish.  That suggests the Federal Reserve should wait until the labor market improves enough to boost wages before beginning to raise interest rates.

Click here for my statement with further analysis.






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