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  • Author: C. Eugene Steuerle, Rudolph G. Penner
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Fiscal policy is simply out of control. It's not the deficit per se, however—we have had deficits before. Usually, they could be easily contained in subsequent years simply by allowing revenues to grow as the economy expanded while enacting only small or no increases in appropriations for discretionary programs, most of which were newly funded every year. But discretionary programs now constitute less than 40 percent of spending, whereas they were almost 70 percent of spending in 1962. In fiscal year 2006, mandatory spending and interest made up 62 percent of spending.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Karen C. Tumlin, Wendy Zimmermann
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: The federal welfare reform act of 1996 (the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, or PRWORA) dramatically revamped the welfare system, turning it into a block grant program run by the states, imposing new, stricter work requirements and setting a five-year lifetime limit on benefit receipt. For immigrants the law did all that and much more. In a major departure from previous policy, the law sharply curtailed noncitizens' eligibility for welfare and other major federal benefits.
  • Topic: Government, Human Welfare, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: C. Eugene Steuerle, Rudolph G. Penner
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: In 1995 the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform concluded that “If we do not plan for the future, entitlement spending promises will exceed financial resources in the next century. The current spending trend is unsustainable … If we fail to act, we have made a choice that threatens the economic future of our children and our nation” (U.S. Congress 1995). Now, well into the next century, we have still failed to act. Yet the problem not only remains, but in many ways has intensified simply because we are years closer to the day of reckoning. Relative to both available revenues and societal needs, we have promised more than we can afford to an elderly and fairly well-off near-elderly population that will soon grow very rapidly as the baby boomers retire and life expectancy continues to increase.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Leonard E. Burman, Jeff Rohaly
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: The President has requested an additional $87 billion to finance the war and reconstruction costs in Iraq. Commentators and some members of Congress have expressed an interest in options to offset these additional costs so as not to add on to the burgeoning budget deficit, which CBO estimates to be $480 billion in fiscal year 2004. This note considers four options to raise approximately enough revenue to finance the additional war costs. The estimates are approximate because they do not account for additional tax avoidance that higher rates might provoke, a significant factor in official revenue estimates.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Michael E. Fix, Jeffrey S. Passel, Kenneth Sucher
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: The Policy Imperative Naturalization is the gateway to citizenship for immigrants and to full membership and political participation in U.S. society. The importance of naturalization—and citizenship—has risen since the mid-1990s, when welfare and illegal immigration reform based access to public benefits and selected rights increasingly on citizenship.
  • Topic: Demographics, Government, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randy Capps, Michael E. Fix, Dan Perez-Lopez, Jeffrey S. Passel
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Immigrant integration is now a key issue for communities across the nation. States and communities that had seen few immigrants as recently as 1990 are now welcoming new arrivals in unprecedented numbers. Although new immigrants continue to settle in the traditional U.S. centers of immigration—including California, Florida, New York, and Texas—the states with the currently fastest growing immigrant populations have not seen similar inflows for almost a century, if ever. According to the 2000 Census, these new destination states include North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee (at the top of the list) and other states in the Southeast, as well as states across the Midwest and up into the Pacific Northwest.
  • Topic: Demographics, Government, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, California, Georgia, Texas, Florida
  • Author: William G. Gale, Alan J. Auerbach, Peter Orszag, Samuel R. Potter
  • Publication Date: 05-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Establishing a sustainable fiscal policy is central to the nation's long-term economic prospects, but requires a clear understanding of how past and current policies affect future resources. The federal budget should, but does not, provide this information, both because the task is difficult and current accounting practices are deficient. This paper shows that adjusting the official budget for many accounting and economic issues implies a bleak fiscal outlook that presents policymakers with difficult choices. We also explore options to restore fiscal sustainability directly and to improve the budget process that governs fiscal decisions.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jane G. Gravelle
  • Publication Date: 02-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: The Enron debacle had potential implications in three areas of tax policy: tax-favored retirement plans, stock options, and differences in book versus tax accounting. The most important issue relates to the increasing riskiness of retirement plans that (1) can pay in a lump sum amount, (2) are of the defined contribution variety, and (3) may be excessively concentrated in employer stock. Proposals to remedy this issue even in a limited way may be unsuccessful if they do not address the especially favorable tax treatment of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). Most stock options do not benefit from preferential treatment, although for both book and tax purposes it may be desirable (and feasible) to recognize compensation payments at the time of grant. Stock options may not be accomplishing their purposes efficiently, and special benefits (such as those for qualified stock options) might either be reconsidered or restricted to plans with desirable features. The spectacle of a purportedly profitable company paying little or no tax has become a common phenomenon. The Enron case suggests the need for more disclosure regarding the sources of book versus tax differences, if not some substantive corporate tax reforms.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randy Capps, Michael Fix, Dan Perez-Lopez, Jeffrey Passel, Leighton Ku, Chris Furgiuele, Rajeev Ramchand, Scott McNiven
  • Publication Date: 02-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: In 1996, debates about welfare reform and immigration converged and reshaped federal policies about the eligibility of legally admitted immigrants for means-tested public benefits programs, including the Food Stamp Program (FSP), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Before the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) was enacted in 1996, legal immigrants were eligible for benefits on terms similar to those of native-born citizens. The new law significantly limited the eligibility of legally-admitted immigrants for means-tested federal benefit programs, particularly immigrants entering the United States after the welfare reform law was passed in August 1996.
  • Topic: Government, Human Welfare, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Wayne Vroman
  • Publication Date: 07-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: This is a paper about measurement. It originated within a project that is examining the performance of unemployment compensation (UC) programs from a cross-national perspective. At the current time the larger project has assembled data on the UC programs of more than 20 countries along with supporting labor market data. Within the set of OECD countries, the project has singled out for particular attention six English speaking countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. An analysis of the unemployment protection systems in these six countries was recently completed by Brusentsev (2002).
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand