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In Case You Missed It…

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 19:48:26 +0000

This week at CBPP, we focused on housing, health care, the safety net, Social Security, and state budgets and taxes.

Pediatricians: Safety Net Key to Children’s Health and Development

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 19:21:57 +0000

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called on policymakers this week to do more for children’s health and development — and some of its strongest words concerned not health care but families’ economic security and opportunity.

Sweeping Deregulation of Small Housing Agencies Won’t Improve Rental Assistance

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 20:57:58 +0000

A House hearing examined options yesterday to strengthen Housing Choice Vouchers, which are highly effective at reducing homelessness and housing instability but could be

How Housing Vouchers Can Better Promote Economic Mobility

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 19:47:33 +0000

In House testimony today, CBPP’s Barbara Sard outlined the benefits of helping low-income families use housing vouchers to move to neighborhoods with less poverty and more opportunity and discussed reforms to advance that goal.  Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

The Future of Housing in America: A Better Way to Increase Efficiencies for Housing Vouchers and Create Upward Economic Mobility

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 21:15:53 +0000

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.  I am Barbara Sard, Vice President for Housing Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  The Center is an independent, nonprofit policy institute that conducts research and analysis on a range of federal and state policy issues affecting low- and moderate-income families. The Center’s housing work focuses on improving the effectiveness of federal low-income housing programs, particularly the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. 

The Need for Productivity-Enhancing Public Investments

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 18:51:06 +0000

I thank the committee for the invitation to speak to you today. The purpose of my testimony is to a) provide you with an assessment of strengths and weaknesses of the current U.S. economy, b) offer thoughts about policies that can boost the strengths and reduce the weak spots, and c) examine near- and longer-term fiscal constraints in this context.

House’s Social Security Administration Cuts Would Hurt Customer Service and Program Integrity

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 18:28:19 +0000

After years of Social Security Administration (SSA) funding cuts, the House Appropriations Committee has proposed yet more damaging cuts to the agency for 2017.  As our report explains, SSA’s core operating budget shrank by 10 percent from 2010 to 2016, after inflation.

Family Planning Funds Should Go to Qualified Providers

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:53:48 +0000

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently proposed a rule to keep states from playing politics with federal Title X family planning funds by excluding family planning providers based on irrelevant criteria.  The rule will increase millions of Americans’ access to essential health services, and HHS should quickly finalize and implement it. 

Sweeping Deregulation of Small Public Housing Agencies Would Do More Harm Than Good

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 17:02:07 +0000

The Small Public Housing Agency Opportunity Act (SPHAOA), introduced in similar form by Senators John Tester (D-MT) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Representative Steve Palazzo (R-MS),[1] is intended to reduce administrative burdens for small local agencies that operate the public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs. The bills’ deregulation provisions go so far to sweep aside federal rules and safeguards that they could have unintended and undesirable consequences.

State Spending Caps No Formula for Budget Success

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 14:57:56 +0000

Most states have laws limiting spending growth — or, less often, tax revenue — according to formulas based on factors like growth in personal income, population, or inflation.  But voters and policymakers are coming to recognize the problems with these caps.  Attempts to impose caps have failed in recent years in Florida, Maine, New Hampshire, and Washington, and a legislative commission in Connecticut is exploring changes in that state’s cap.  In testimony for that commission, I explain

Addressing Puerto Rico’s Medicaid Funding Shortfalls Would Help Ensure Fiscal Stability and Growth

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 13:23:19 +0000

In June, President Obama and Congress enacted legislation — the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, or PROMESA — to help address Puerto Rico’s immediate debt crisis.  Unfortunately, the law didn’t address the island’s inadequate federal Medicaid funding, which is critical to remedying Puerto Rico’s short- and long-term budgetary and economic problems. 

In Case You Missed It…

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 21:21:18 +0000

This week at CBPP, we focused on the Census Bureau’s new poverty, income, and health coverage data for 2015.  We also covered the federal budget and taxes, Social Security, and health care.

House GOP “A Better Way” Tax Cuts Would Overwhelmingly Benefit Top 1 Percent While Sharply Expanding Deficits

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 20:28:17 +0000

Under the plan, 76.1 percent of the net tax cuts would flow to the richest 1 percent of households in 2017.  And by 2025, essentially all of the net tax cuts — 99.6 percent — would go to the top 1 percent.

Trump’s Unrealistic Expectations for Economic Growth

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 18:33:58 +0000

Donald Trump’s economic team says his economic plan would raise annual economic growth to 3.5 percent (it’s averaged 2.1 percent since the economy emerged from recession in mid-2009).  Trump himself says it can be 4 percent or better.  These are unrealistic claims.

Non-Metro Areas Gained About as Much as Metro Areas in 2015, American Community Survey Data Indicate

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 15:27:06 +0000

Different findings from a separate census survey are driven by a shift in the definition of non-metropolitan areas.

Census Data Show Large Health Coverage Gains Continued in 2015

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 14:43:50 +0000

The historic gains in health insurance coverage in 2014 — when the Affordable Care Act’s major coverage expansions took effect — continued in 2015.

Trump “Penny Plan” Would Mean Large Cut in Non-Defense Spending

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 21:14:41 +0000

To help pay for his tax cut plan, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is proposing to cut total funding for non-defense programs funded through the annual appropriations process by 1 percent below the previous year’s total each year. 

Claims of Large Growth Effects from Trump Tax Plan Merit Skepticism

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 20:13:38 +0000

The revised tax plan that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released today will be very costly, though less than the plan he released last year.  Based on the Trump campaign’s own cost estimates, the cost appears to be roughly comparable as a share of the economy to that of the very large Reagan tax cuts of 1981 and Bush tax cuts of 2001 — before policymakers rolled them back, in part due to their high cost and the pressure they placed on budget deficits.

Trump Campaign’s “Dynamic Scoring” of Revised Tax Plan Should Be Taken With More Than a Grain of Salt

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 15:04:59 +0000

The estimates rely on assumptions well outside the economic mainstream.

Decline in Projected Long-Term Debt Mostly Reflects Slower Health Cost Growth, Lower Interest Rates

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 21:13:04 +0000

CBPP’s latest projections show that by 2046 the federal debt will grow to approximately 113 percent of gross domestic product (GDP, a measure of the nation’s annual income and output) — less than half as high as our January 2010 projections, which showed a debt ratio of 270 percent in 2046.  (See Figure 1.)  Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections from 2009 and 2016 show similar improvement.  The significant change in our projections largely reflects slower growth in health costs and dramatically lower interest rates (see Figure 2 and Table 1).


Census Figures Underscore Need to Help Poorest Age Group: Young Children

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 18:38:31 +0000

Some 17.3 percent of children under age 6 were poor last year, our analysis of Census data released yesterday shows — notably higher than older children or adults (see chart).  (Our figures are based on the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which counts both cash and non-cash government benefits.)  That the nation’s poorest people are babies, toddlers, and kindergarteners shouldn’t be acceptable — and policymakers can help by boosting the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for very young poor children, many of whom receive little or nothing from the credit now.

Safety Net Cut Poverty Nearly in Half Last Year

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 17:50:06 +0000

Safety net programs cut the poverty rate nearly in half in 2015, lifting 38 million people — including 8 million children — above the poverty line, our analysis of Census data released yesterday finds.

Commentary: Health Coverage, Income, and Poverty All Improved Decisively in 2015, With Historic Gains in Some Areas

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 20:34:45 +0000

For the first time since 1999, all three key indicators of well-being in the annual Census data moved decisively in the right direction in 2015.  The number of uninsured Americans fell by 4 million from 2014 to 2015, on top of a drop of nearly 9 million the year before, with the uninsured rate falling to a historically low 9.1 percent.  The typical household’s income rose by 5.2 percent, or $2,798, after adjusting for inflation, the largest increase on record with data back to 1967.  The poverty rate dropped from 14.8 percent to 13.5 percent, tying the largest improvement since 1968.  Moreo

Census Data Show States Not Expanding Medicaid Falling Further Behind

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 17:04:16 +0000

States that have adopted health reform’s Medicaid expansion had a much lower uninsured rate in 2015 than states that haven’t, new Census Bureau data show.  Moreover, the gap keeps widening.

Some 7.2 percent of the people in the 28 states (including the District of Columbia) that expanded Medicaid by January 2015 lacked health insurance that year, compared with 12.3 percent in the 23 non-expansion states, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.  (Since January 2015, five other states have expanded Medicaid.) 

New Census Data Show Health Reform Driving Large Coverage Gains

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 16:31:28 +0000

The uninsured rate fell sharply in 2015, from 10.4 percent to 9.1 percent, today’s Census Bureau data show — the second straight year of sharp declines since health reform’s major coverage expansions took effect in January 2014.  It’s also the fifth straight year the uninsured rate has fallen since health reform’s enactment in 2010.

Greenstein: Health Coverage, Income, and Poverty All Move Decisively in Right Direction for First Time Since 1999

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 14:09:19 +0000

The three key indicators of well-being in today’s Census data all moved decisively in the right direction in 2015 — the first time that has occurred in nearly two decades.

Understanding Tomorrow’s Census Figures

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 16:40:04 +0000

We’ve released two pieces previewing tomorrow’s Census Bureau release of poverty, income, and health coverage figures for 2015:

Keep the Increase in Medical Expense Deduction Threshold

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 15:45:04 +0000

Repealing the increase in the threshold for deducting medical expenses, as a pending House bill would do, would give a costly, unnecessary tax break to high-income taxpayers.

Taxpayers may claim an itemized income tax deduction for extraordinary medical expenses that exceed a certain threshold.  Health reform increased the threshold from 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) to 10 percent starting in 2013 for most taxpayers.  For taxpayers age 65 and over, the higher threshold will take effect in 2017. 

Social Security Administration Budget Cuts Hurt Communities Nationwide

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 15:31:16 +0000

As baby boomers age into their peak years for retirement and disability, demands on the Social Security Administration (SSA) are reaching all-time highs.  Yet policymakers have cut SSA’s core operating budget by 10 percent since 2010, after adjusting for inflation.  These cuts hurt SSA’s service to the public in every state, as our new report shows. 

Social Security Administration Cuts Hurt Every State

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 14:34:32 +0000

As the baby boom generation ages into its peak years for retirement and disability, the demands on the Social Security Administration (SSA) are reaching all-time highs.  Yet Congress has cut SSA’s core operating budget by 10 percent since 2010, after adjusting for inflation. [2]  These cuts hurt SSA’s service to the public in every state.

In Case You Missed It…

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 18:42:33 +0000

This week at CBPP, we focused on health care, poverty and inequality, the federal budget and taxes, food assistance, family income support, and the economy.

Be Wary of Using Next Week’s Official Poverty Figures to Assess Long-Term Poverty Trends

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 15:39:45 +0000

The official poverty data that the Census Bureau will release on September 13 will provide useful information concerning developments from 2014 to 2015, but will not provide the best assessment of longer-term trends.

House Appropriations Bill Would Raise Health Costs, Stifle Innovation

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 15:39:55 +0000

A provision in a pending House appropriations bill to eliminate all funding for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, which may get support from a House Budget Committee hearing this week that highlighted criticism of the Center, would seriously undermine efforts to slow health care spending growth and would boost Medicare and Medicaid costs by tens of billions of dollars over the next decade.  Congress should reject this provision when it finalizes 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations.

Upcoming Census Estimates Expected to Show Continued Major Gains in Health Coverage

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 14:51:16 +0000

On September 13, the Census Bureau will issue its estimates of health coverage for 2015.  Other reputable surveys suggest that the data will show significant coverage gains.

New Data Show Food Insecurity Continues Falling

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 14:09:28 +0000

The share of households experiencing food insecurity, meaning someone in the household had inadequate access to food at some point during the year, fell from 14.0 percent in 2014 to 12.7 percent in 2015, new Agriculture Department (USDA) data show, continuing a decline from 2011’s peak of 14.9 percent.  But food insecurity remains above the pre-recession (2007) level of 11.1 percent (see graph), indicating that millions of Americans still face hardship.

Expanding the EITC Would Help Workers in Every State

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 13:57:39 +0000

The Earned Income Tax Credit rewards the work of low- and moderate-income working families across the country. Bipartisan proposals to expand the EITC for low-wage workers who aren’t raising children in the home would extend its success to workers doing a wide range of jobs in every state.

Proposal on “Unauthorized” Spending Would Do More Harm Than Good

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 20:32:34 +0000

House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips recently denounced Congress for “unauthorized spending.”  But, in their September 1 Washington Post op-ed, their description of the issue is misleading and their solution would likely mean even more budget brinkmanship and gridlock.  It could also force automatic cuts in high-priority areas l

Reports Bolster Calls to Expand EITC for Childless Workers

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 17:40:24 +0000

As we’ve noted, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers who aren’t raising children in the home would boost labor force participation, reduce poverty, and ensure that the benefits of economic growth are shared more broadly — especially if policymakers also raise the minimum wage.  The President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) each r

In Case You Missed It…

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 18:35:38 +0000

This week at CBPP we focused on the federal budget and taxes, the economy, and the safety net.

At Labor Day, Let the EITC Help All Low-Wage Workers

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 20:09:41 +0000

Bipartisan proposals to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-wage workers who aren’t raising children in the home would extend the EITC’s success to such workers in every state.

Proposals to Address “Unauthorized Appropriations” Would Likely Do More Harm Than Good

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 16:46:20 +0000

Republican members of the House of Representatives are offering various proposals targeting “unauthorized” appropriations to impose automatic cuts in such programs and more strictly enforce House rules.

State Data on Safety Net’s Impact, in One Place

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 17:10:06 +0000

We’ve posted a spreadsheet, courtesy of our Excel whiz Rebecca Portman, with all the data that we used in our new state fact sheets on the safety net’s impact.  It contains information for every state on how much government programs reduce poverty, as well as the impact of the programs with the largest anti-poverty effects:  Social Security, SNAP (formerly food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Cre

In Case You Missed It….

Fri, 26 Aug 2016 18:30:03 +0000

This week at CBPP we focused on family income support, state budgets and taxes, health care, food assistance, and Social Security.

CBO Estimates SNAP Spending Will Fall Faster

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 20:13:16 +0000

New Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections show that spending on SNAP (formerly food stamps) will fall over the next decade faster than it previously estimated.  SNAP spending will fall as a share of the economy, reaching 1995 levels in 2019 (see chart).  These projections show that SNAP provided an effective response to the recession — growing temporarily as need rose — and isn’t contributing to long-term budgetary pressures.

Poorest Children in Single-Mother Families Got Poorer Under Welfare Reform

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 18:33:16 +0000

With the 1996 welfare law in the news this week on its 20th anniversary, our new report finds that the poorest children in single-mother families grew poorer between 1995 and 2005 — the best period to examine the law’s impact, as the economy was similar in both years. This group’s income loss reflected a large drop in cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, which the law created.

Kentucky’s Medicaid Proposal Puts Recent Health Gains at Risk

Wed, 24 Aug 2016 19:13:21 +0000

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin today submitted a proposal to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that would change the state’s Medicaid expansion, leading to tens of thousands of people becoming uninsured.  While Gov. Bevin says the changes are necessary to improve Kentuckians’ health, research shows that Medicaid expansion has already fueled tremendous improvements in the health of the state’s residents. 

Resources Tight as New School Year Starts

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 16:15:08 +0000

With K-12 schools opening around the country, here’s a quick look at the funding challenges many of them face.

Louisiana Spends Just 11 Percent of TANF Funds in Core Welfare Reform Areas

Mon, 22 Aug 2016 17:36:01 +0000

Louisiana spends just 11 percent of its state and federal dollars under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in core welfare reform areas, a new report from the Louisiana Budget Project using 2015 state financial data finds.  The state spent 8 percent on basic assistance, 1 percent on work-related activities, and 2 percent on child care assistance (see first graph).  

The Decay of the Cash Assistance Safety Net Under TANF, in Two Maps

Mon, 22 Aug 2016 16:30:34 +0000

States reach far fewer poor families under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — created 20 years ago today — than under its predecessor, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).  These two maps show how dramatically the cash assistance safety net has shrunk.