The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is one of the nation‚Äôs premier policy organizations working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals. The Center conducts research and analysis to inform public debates over proposed budget and tax policies and to help ensure that the needs of low-income families and individuals are considered in these debates. We also develop policy options to alleviate poverty. In addition, the Center examines the short- and long-term impacts that proposed policies would have on the health of the economy and on the soundness of federal and state budgets. Among the issues we explore are whether federal and state governments are fiscally sound and have sufficient revenue to address critical priorities, both for low-income populations and for the nation as a whole. Over the past two decades, the Center has gained a reputation for producing materials that are balanced, authoritative, accessible to non-specialists, and responsive to issues currently before the country. Our materials are used by policymakers and non-profit organizations across the political spectrum, as well as by journalists from a variety of media outlets.
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The national recession has had such a devastating effect on state finances that states took in $87 billion less in tax revenue from October 2008 through September 2009 than they collected in the previous 12 months. This 11 percent decline, the steepest on record, resulted from the impact on tax collections of lost jobs, reduced wages, and lowered economic activity.
At the same time, the recession has driven up the number of people needing various state services. This, along with the ‚Ä¶
The Senate should include President Obama‚Äôs proposal to extend for one year and modestly expand the TANF Emergency Fund in the bill it is crafting to respond to historically high unemployment and weak consumer demand. If the Senate fails to include this measure, a program that is providing many unemployed, low-income parents with subsidized private-sector jobs at a very economical cost per job will end at a time when the number of long-term unemployed is at its highest level in at least ‚Ä¶
Unless Congress acts, temporary emergency benefits for unemployed workers will run out at the end of this month. These benefits not only help unemployed workers and their families, but also are one of the most effective ways to boost the nascent economic recovery.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), enacted a year ago, provided additional weeks of unemployment benefits to laid-off workers struggling to find a job and boosted unemployment benefits by $25 per week. These two ‚Ä¶
In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for high-income Americans to expire on schedule at the end of the year. Critics already are attacking this proposal as an unwarranted tax increase that would harm the weak economy and kill large numbers of jobs, especially among small businesses.
These criticisms fly in the face of a wealth of fiscal and economic evidence. Allowing tax cuts to expire for married filers with incomes above ‚Ä¶
This proposal marks a useful step toward restoring fiscal responsibility.
A well-designed pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rule can contribute significantly to the fiscal discipline needed to address the nation‚Äôs serious long-term budget problems, presuming that policymakers abide by it and pay for any new tax cuts or mandatory program increases that they enact.
Putting pay-as-you-go in statute can increase the likelihood that lawmakers will follow this principle. Some may be more hesitant ‚Ä¶
The long-term budget outlook is discussed by the Center‚Äôs Director of Federal Fiscal Policy, Jim Horney.
A proposal before Congress would sharply expand HUD's Moving-to-Work (MTW) demonstration. Unless important limitations are added, this expansion would reduce the number of families receiving housing assistance by shifting funds out of the Section 8 housing voucher program. It also would expose more low-income families to risky policies than is necessary to test innovative approaches, and allow local policies to diverge to a degree that could weaken housing assistance ‚Ä¶
Two key provisions in the Recovery Act ‚Äď unemployment insurance and COBRA ‚Äď and suggestions for Congress are discussed by Chief Economist, Chad Stone.
Today‚Äôs Senate debate over whether to extend the federal estate tax or let it expire for next year is a study in irony.
Under current law, the estate tax, which has been reduced very significantly since 2001 and now only affects the biggest 1 of every 500 estates in America, will expire next year and then return to pre-2001 law. The Senate leadership has been trying to extend the tax‚Äôs 2009 parameters beyond this year, preventing the scheduled rollercoaster of the tax over the next ‚Ä¶
Fox News Cites CBPP on the Number of Jobs Saved or Created by Recovery ActDuration: 0:41
Fox News Cites CBPP on the Number of Jobs Saved or Created by Recovery ActDuration: 0:41
The basics of the food stamp program is discussed by the Center‚Äôs Director of Food Assistance Policy, Stacy Dean.
The risk that, without more federal aid, states efforts to address their budget problems could cost the economy 900,000 jobs is discussed by Bob Greenstein, Mark Zandi, chief economist of economy.com, and Senior Advisor Iris Lav.
A 5.4 percent surcharge on couples with incomes over $1 million, a key financing feature of the House health reform bill, is sound and well targeted. It would affect just a fraction of 1 percent of taxpayers, a group whose incomes have soared and tax burdens have fallen in recent years, and would have only a modest impact on small businesses.
Reforming the health care system to provide universal health coverage and slow the growth of health care costs is an urgent national ‚Ä¶
Sixteen states taxed working-poor families deeper into poverty last year, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Income tax bills on poor families in those 16 states ranged from a few dollars to several hundred dollars, which is a significant amount for a family struggling to make ends meet, the report said.
‚ÄúUndermining families‚Äô efforts to work their way out of poverty is never a good idea,‚ÄĚ said Phil Oliff, the ‚Ä¶
The Obama Administration‚Äôs October 30 release of data on jobs created and saved by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which the Administration and Congress enacted early this year, captured only a portion of the jobs created and saved due to ARRA‚Äôs limited reporting requirements.
According to the Government Accountability Office, ARRA‚Äôs reporting system covered only 27 percent of ARRA expenditures through September 30.  ‚Ä¶
Video Clip: Bob Greenstein Discusses Controlling Costs in Senate Health Reform Bill on PBS‚Äô Nightly Business Report
Next week, the President‚Äôs Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will update their economic and budget projections for fiscal year 2009, which ends on September 30, and the next ten fiscal years.Some analysts and pundits will try to use the new projections to support their arguments that the February stimulus package is (or is not) working, that Congress must (or must not) proceed with health care reform, and that any number of other ‚Ä¶
In a July 6 letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) called for an even larger allocation of free allowances to the electricity sector than the substantial share it would receive under the House climate bill, as well as a more protracted phase-out of these allowances.In advancing these requests, the EEI letter makes a number of dubious claims.
The Senate should look skeptically at these claims as it drafts climate legislation and should resist ‚Ä¶
Today‚Äôs report on second-quarter economic growth shows that the economy is no longer in free fall. It also provides evidence that the economic recovery legislation that the Administration and Congress enacted earlier this year is doing what it was reasonably expected to do.
No mainstream economist believed that the recovery measures would produce an immediate turnaround in the economy, but they did expect them to slow the downward spiral and help generate a turnaround sooner than ‚Ä¶
Chief Economist Chad Stone discusses how the Senate can improve consumer relief in climate change legislation by scaling back corporate windfall profits.
The news media are widely reporting that, according to a partial and preliminary Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis, health reform legislation that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) is developing would cut the number of uninsured by only 16 million people while costing $1 trillion over ten years. That conclusion, however, is incorrect. The CBO analysis covers only a part of the HELP plan (the parts for which the Committee ‚Ä¶
If Congress rejects the President‚Äôs proposal to help pay for health care reform by limiting the value of itemized deductions for high-income filers, it should at least prevent those subsidies from expanding in 2011, as they would under current law.
Simply keeping the value of itemized deductions for filers in the top two brackets at their current levels of 33 and 35 percent, rather than allowing it to expand when those tax rates rise to 36 and 39.6 percent respectively, would raise $68 ‚Ä¶
To help pay for health care legislation that extends health insurance to all Americans and slows the growth of health care costs, Congress should consider reversing the substantial real decline in recent decades in federal excise taxes on alcohol. This paper, which is part of a series of papers on proposals to help pay for health reform, outlines three options Congress could consider for increasing alcohol taxes that would raise $27 billion to about $100 billion over the next 10 years.‚Ä¶
On May 19, 2009, the House Energy and Commerce Committee began consideration of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), introduced by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA). The legislation, which would place a cap on emissions of greenhouse gases to combat global warming, includes important provisions to ensure that the legislation does not increase hardship by making poor families poorer ‚Ä¶
The Social Security and Medicare Trustees' report on Medicare underscores the urgency of health care reforms to slow health care cost growth, starting with President Obama‚Äôs proposed Medicare reforms. The Trustees‚Äô report shows Social Security doesn‚Äôt face an immediate crisis but does require changes, and the sooner they‚Äôre made, the better.
Paul Van de Water, one of Washington‚Äôs leading experts on social insurance programs and Senior Fellow at the ‚Ä¶
Policies that restrict greenhouse-gas emissions will significantly raise the price of fossil-fuel energy products. That‚Äôs necessary to encourage energy efficiency and greater use of clean energy sources, but it will pose challenges for low- and moderate-income households. Even a modest 15 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions would cost the poorest fifth of Americans an average of about $750 a ‚Ä¶
On the whole, the budget plans that the House and Senate approved yesterday pass the twin tests of: (1) beginning to address long-term deficits, or at least not making these deficits worse; and (2) not undermining the fiscal stimulus Congress recently passed. [i] The Senate‚Äôs adoption, however, of amendments that are intended both to facilitate a further large tax cut for the estates of ‚Ä¶
As Congress prepares a budget resolution for fiscal year 2010, it should apply two key tests to any proposed change in the plans approved by the House and Senate Budget Committees: Would the proposal support economic recovery in the near term?
Would it reduce budget deficits over the long term?The President‚Äôs budget proposal would begin addressing both the economy‚Äôs immediate needs and the nation‚Äôs long-term ‚Ä¶
Each year, the Tax Foundation releases a report projecting ‚ÄúTax Freedom Day,‚ÄĚ which it describes as the day when Americans will have ‚Äúearned enough money to pay this year‚Äôs tax obligations at the federal, state, and local levels.‚ÄĚ 
The Tax Foundation‚Äôs ‚ÄúTax Freedom Day‚ÄĚ report is plagued by two major problems. First, its estimates of state and local tax burdens suffer from a number of ‚Ä¶
The pay-as-you-go rule, also known as PAYGO, is designed to encourage Congress to offset the cost of any legislation that increases spending on entitlement programs or reduces revenues so it doesn't expand the deficit. Under PAYGO, Congress must pay for such legislation by reducing other entitlement spending and/or increasing other revenues.
Congress can, however, waive PAYGO for a particular bill with the support of 60 senators and a recommendation by the House Rules Committee, backed by the ‚Ä¶
The President‚Äôs 2010 budget proposes to limit the tax subsidy for deductible expenses of the most affluent Americans and to use the additional revenue to help finance national health reform, including universal coverage. This proposal has been attacked on the grounds that it would lead to substantial reductions in charitable contributions and hit charities at a time when they face increased need and decreased contributions due to the recession. Careful examination indicates ‚Ä¶
Comprehensive climate change legislation is expected to include measures to mitigate the effects of higher energy-related prices on low- and moderate-income family budgets.¬† Those higher energy prices play an important role in achieving efficient emissions reductions under a cap-and-trade system (or under a carbon tax), and they are an inevitable result of measures that limit the supply of fossil-fuel energy.¬† However, it is not inevitable that consumers face undue hardship as a result, and ‚Ä¶
More than 25 million Americans belonging to minority groups lack health coverage; minorities constitute 34 percent of the nation‚Äôs population but nearly 55 percent of the uninsured. Enactment of comprehensive health reform that achieves universal coverage would therefore disproportionately benefit minorities.
One way to help finance universal coverage, as President Obama has noted, would be to curb excessive payments to the private insurance companies that serve some Medicare ‚Ä¶