Why Must Congress Pay for Extending UI Benefits but Not Tax Cuts?

Dollars and Sense

Tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, the Senate should finally pass an extension of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to more than 2.5 million unemployed workers who have gone without a check for over six weeks. Central to this delay were Republican and a moderate Democrat's demands that Congress pay for the emergency extension. Many of those same members of Congress, however, change their tune when it comes to extending the Bush Tax Cuts.

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What's New for Taxes in '11

A new report by the Joint Committee on taxation details what will happen to the tax code in 2011 should the Bush tax cuts expire. It's good primer (actually a little more detailed than that) on the landscape as it is as advocates turn to the looming tax debate in Congress.

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CTJ Shows Tax Proposals in Rep. Ryan's 'Roadmap' Lead to Disaster

Luckily, No One was Hurt...

In a report released yesterday, Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) critically examine the tax policies proposed recently in Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget alternative, conventionally titled, "A Roadmap for America's Future." Claims of the proposal "balancing the budget" and "reforming entitlements" have already been thoroughly debunked, but CTJ has contributed a valuable analysis of the young Republican's tax policies, which will actually cost the government "$2 trillion over a decade even while requiring 90 percent of taxpayers to pay more" than they already do in taxes.

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Bunning and Co. Jerk American Workers Around

The Puppet Master

At the end of last week, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) and the Senate Republican caucus decided to take a stand on government spending by demanding that Congress offset an important tax extenders bill. The bill, which, among other things, sought to extend eligibility for unemployment benefits, COBRA premium assistance, a Medicare doctors' fix, and highway funding, failed to pass because of the GOP's intransigence. While offsetting spending is a sensible policy, this was hardly the appropriate moment to make a point on the issue, as blockage of the extension bill will likely have serious consequences for both jobless Americans and our weak, recovering economy.

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Oregon Ballot Initiatives Could Show Path Forward in Federal Tax Debate

The Great State of Oregon

In the midst of the media's recent myopic focus on the election of Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), the fourth estate has largely overlooked the fact that Oregon voters approved measures at the ballot box in January to increase taxes on wealthy citizens and corporations to help bring the state back into fiscal balance. Earlier this week, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released a short paper on the implications those votes could have in Congress on the debate over the expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts.

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Krugman: Unhinged Deficit Fears Create Misguided Policy Priorities

Paul Krugman

If you missed Paul Krugman’s op-ed in the New York Times this past Thursday, I strongly recommend reading it. The Nobel Prize-winning economist and Princeton scholar adroitly explains why “the sudden ubiquity of deficit scare stories,” which “isn’t being driven by any actual news,” is leading Washington to focus on the wrong fiscal priorities.

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Is the Senate Going to Allow the Estate Tax to Die?

R.I.P, Estate Tax...For Now

According to a Wall Street Journal article published this morning, efforts to pass some sort of estate tax extension in the upper chamber broke down late Wednesday afternoon. It seems the Democratic caucus can't agree on whether to permanently or temporarily extend 2009 estate tax levels. Though legislators are already promising to address the issue as soon as they return from the holidays, there is still time left to pass something. OMB Watch and a host of other organizations have submitted a letter to the Senate urging them to take action. Ironically enough for those who would champion the tax's death on Jan. 1, the consequences of inaction for small businesses and farms are costlier than extension.

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Deconstructing the Deficit

When discussing the federal budget deficit, I should be clear that reducing it right now is absolutely the wrong policy to pursue. It will likely strangle the meager recovery that's underway, and attention should primarily be focused on reducing the growing cost of health care. Having said all that, if deficit reduction must be addressed right now, it's important to first understand its composition.

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Shortsighted Tax Policy to Generate Windfall for the Rich


According to Howard Gleckman over at TaxVox, the blog of the Urban and Brookings Joint Tax Policy Center, due to a shortsighted revenue generator Congress put in place several years ago, wealthy individuals will soon be able to convert taxable investments into tax-free nest eggs, and deny the government needed revenues down the road. It's a perfect example of the unintended consequences of public policy and one of those things that make you either want to scratch your head or beat it against the wall, or both.

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CTJ: For Some in Congress, Priorities Lie With the Rich

Citizens for Tax Justice

According to a new report released today by Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush, which provide benefits mostly to the rich, will cost the country $2.5 trillion over the decade after they were first enacted (2001-2010). A number of lawmakers who voted for the Bush tax cuts have recently been arguing against health care reform legislation aimed at helping all Americans, claiming reforms are "too costly." How can this be?

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