Archive for the ‘Economic Security’ Category

Why the Next Debt Limit Debacle Might be Worse

Congress’s latest flirtation with debt-limit default caused barely a ripple in the financial markets. Rates on short-term Treasuries spiked in early October, before quickly subsiding to more normal levels. The spread between one- and three-year Treasuries temporarily widened, but quickly fell back to a more normal trend. All told, financial markets barely blinked. Unfortunately, the […]

Protecting the Child Tax Credit at the Fiscal Cliff

The Child Tax Credit (CTC), a key piece of the safety net for low- and moderate-income families, is in jeopardy as the nation hurtles towards the fiscal cliff. Not only could the 2001 expansion of the credit die, but so could provisions in the 2009 stimulus that made the credit much more available to low-income […]

How Government Limits Upward Mobility

Upward mobility has been a foundation of America’s self-image since the 18th century. If you work hard enough, nothing can stop you from getting ahead. That, at least in the minds of many Americans, is what distinguishes us from much of the rest of the world. Yet, according to my always-provocative Tax Policy Center colleague […]

News Flash: Antipoverty Programs Can Reduce Poverty

In 1998, when I was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis at the Treasury Department, I asked my staff expert on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) how many people the EITC had lifted out of poverty. Her answer shocked me: technically, zero. Poverty statistics don’t account for the EITC or any other federal anti-poverty measure. […]

What the GOP Candidates’ Tax Plans Leave Out

The economy needs fixing, all agree. So naturally, every Republican presidential candidate has a plan for changing the federal tax system. Herman Cain has his 9-9-9 plan (or 9-0-9 if you’re low-income) and Rick Perry touts a 20 percent flat tax. Newt Gingrich would move to a consumption tax while Ron Paul would kiss the income […]

So…Who Should Pay Income Taxes?

David Walker, a former Government Accountability Office head, thinks it’s a problem that half of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes. At the June 22 IRS-Tax Policy Center Research Conference, he argued that more people ought to have “skin in the game” when it comes to paying these taxes so they will be invested in […]

Why We Run Subsidies through the Tax System

I disagree with former IRS Commissioner Don Alexander. Sometimes the IRS is the best, most efficient agency to administer a subsidy. And if we want to encourage low-income families to work—a key premise of welfare reform—refundable tax credits make a lot of sense.

High Wire and Hospital: Two Books You Should Read

I've just finished two terrific new books: High Wire: The Precarious Financial Lives of American Families by long-time LA Times reporter Peter Gosselin, and Hospital by Julie Salamon. In quite different ways, each illuminates some of the critical social policy issues of our time.