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Fiscal Policy

It's Time to Tax Happiness

  • By
  • Charles Kenny,
  • New America Foundation
May 21, 2012 |

As the presidential campaign kicks off, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are looking for popular ways to reduce a still-ballooning deficit. However sensible, proposing deep cuts in Medicare or defense spending has little political appeal. Raising the income tax rate—at least on anyone earning less than a million a year—appears equally unpalatable. There is, however, at least one revenue-generating tool that’s simple, fair, and very efficient, at least in theory: a tax on happiness.

Asset Building News Week, May 14-18

May 18, 2012
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The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include housing, women in poverty, access to public assistance, banking, student loan debt and inequality.

Why Jerry Brown’s Bid to Fix California’s Budget Isn’t Working

  • By
  • Joe Mathews,
  • New America Foundation
May 16, 2012 |

How desperate is Gov. Jerry Brown?

China’s Latest Reforms Not a Sign of Economic Strength

  • By
  • Samuel Sherraden,
  • New America Foundation
May 10, 2012 |

This year, China has announced a flurry of financial liberalization measures that were perceived by many in the U.S. and Europe as a sign of confidence among Chinese leaders about their economy’s growth prospects.

Some analysts, such as Paul Markowski, president of MES Advisers Inc., have argued that these reforms indicate Chinese leaders believe they have avoided a so-called hard landing.

New Report Shows The Saver's Bonus is Still a Great Idea

May 9, 2012
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It's always gratifying when your assumptions are backed up by evidence. Like, when I thought adding a little coffee to my chocolate cupcakes might take them from "yummy" to "ghahhar (read: sound of Homer Simpson in presence of doughnut)." I had reason to believe this might be so: it had been a successful strategy I'd used in other baking applications. But, to borrow a phrase from my mother, sometime you just don't know until you know.

What’s really driving the proposed SNAP cuts?

May 9, 2012
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Yesterday, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing about the Farm Bill that focused on some of the proposed reforms to SNAP. Notably, none of the panelists or representatives in attendance really had anything negative to say about the program. It was widely agreed that SNAP has lifted millions of Americans out of poverty, has provided a much-needed boost to the economy, and is one of the most efficient social welfare programs. Nearly 95% of federal SNAP funding goes directly to the benefits that allow families to purchase food; 93% of the benefits go to households with incomes below the poverty line; and fraud and abuse are minimal. So this all begs the question: what’s really driving the proposed SNAP cuts?

Make Candidates Debate the Debt

  • By
  • Maya MacGuineas,
  • New America Foundation
April 27, 2012 |

It's not news that the national debt presents a daunting challenge. The public debt is growing faster than the economy, a trend that cannot be sustained.

Asset Building News Week, April 16-20

April 20, 2012
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The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include taxes, inequality, the impact of demographic shifts on retirement security, education, and housing regulation.

Between a Mountain of Debt and a Fiscal Cliff: Finding a Smart Path Forward

March 29, 2012

At the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, many major fiscal events are set to occur all at once. They include the expiration of the 2001/03/10 tax cuts, the winding down of certain jobs provisions, the activation of the $1.2 trillion across-the-board “sequester,” an immediate and steep reduction in Medicare physician payments, the end of current AMT patches, and the need to once again raise the country’s debt ceiling.

Cutting SNAP is the Wrong Way to Fund Defense

April 18, 2012
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Monday, the House Republicans announced new domestic budget cuts to SNAP/Food Stamps, which would include lowering benefit levels and reinstating the federal asset test of $2000 for most families. The Budget Control Act pledged to cut budget deficits by $2.1 trillion between 2012 and 2021, with almost $500 million designated to come from defense. Automatic spending cuts would begin to take place in January—apparently prompting House Republicans to seek sufficient savings from other programs to fund future defense spending without resorting to new taxes. You’re reading that correctly, in order to prevent cuts in defense spending the House GOP has chosen to scale back food support for struggling families. Note the chart here that designates the amount of spending on the Defense budget and the amount of spending on the safety net (of which SNAP is a fraction.)In addition, these new rules will not only hurt millions of families struggling in the wake of the recession, but also impose additional administrative costs on states that are already dealing with their own budgetary shortfalls.

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