To wrap your brain around Illinois' complicated, worst-in-the-nation public pension conundrum, it helps to consider the parable of the leaky roof. At first, it may cost a little to fix. But ignoring the problem by simply shuffling around pots and pans to catch the drips only invites an expensive gusher of a home repair down the road.More
Isn’t there something creepy about Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz having “asked his Washington-area employees to write ‘Come Together’ on each customer cup today, tomorrow and Friday, as a gesture to urge leaders to resolve the fiscal cliff”?
Nearly half a century ago, I dropped out of graduate school and enlisted as a foot soldier in America’s War on Poverty. Today, I’m still on the front lines, working to move people out of dependency and into employment. But with an important difference: I’ve become fed up with the useless policies that I once supported, and I’m trying to change the strategy of our bogged-down army.More
Switzerland has achieved private-sector universal coverage.More
A range of new economic data cast doubt on the nation's recovery.More
The president can succeed in avoiding the fiscal cliff if he returns to his 2011 position of raising revenues without raising tax rates by eliminating deductions and loopholes in the tax code.More
A simple ensemble in 1956 of Sears‘s lowest-priced women‘s clothing — blouse, jeans, pumps, panties and bra — cost the typical worker in 1956 5.2 hours of work time. A similar ensemble of clothing today costs the typical worker a mere 2.9 hours of work time. That is, such clothing is today 44 percent less costly, in terms of work time required to earn enough money to purchase it, than it was in 1956.... More
In the United States, natural gas and renewables are taking a bite out of coal’s market share. But outside America’s borders, massive electricity demand is fueling an insatiable demand for the stuff.More
A vote last month that makes Californians among the highest-taxed residents in the country is sparking debate about whether the Democrat-back initiative will backfire, by forcing high-earners to join a long exodus from the cash-strapped state.
Metropolitan areas in Texas and Oklahoma are leading the nation in their overall recovery from the recession while cities in Florida and California continue to struggle at the bottom, according to the latest report from the Brookings Institution.More
Instead of providing a focus on the victims, or a focus on the nation’s bottom line, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have focused on pork-barrel projects as far from Sandy’s impact zone as one gets in the United States.
Raising Medicare’s retirement age increases the progressivity of government health benefits, and protects minorities: the opposite of what opponents contend. Indeed, reducing Medicare spending via Congress’ traditional rationing methods is far more harmful to low-income seniors.More
Rather than balance their budget, New York legislators have used some $25 billion in one-shot revenues and other gimmicks over the past decade to spend more than they take in, during good times and bad.More
While the "fiscal cliff" of looming tax increases and spending cuts dominates political conversation in Washington, some Republicans and business groups see signs of a "regulatory cliff" that they say could be just as damaging to the economy.More
The $300 billion in US charitable giving, highest per capita among OECD nations, provides the lifeblood for medical research, higher education, the arts and a range of programs that assist and uplift the poor. Even a relatively modest change long-favored by the Obama White House—limiting the tax benefit of a charitable donation to 28 percent of its value, even for those paying higher tax rates—would,... More
California assumed it would rake in $1 billion in revenues from its new cap and trade auctions. The real take was much less.More
If the two parties fail to come to a deal by Jan. 1, taxes on the average middle income family would rise about $2,000 over the next year. That would follow a 12-year period in which median inflation-adjusted income declined 8.9 percent, from $54,932 in 1999 to $50,054 in 2011.More
Limiting the tax deduction could make muni bonds less popular, resulting in higher borrowing costs for state and local governments, particularly those in the weakest financial positions.More
The Congressional stalemate over the two top individual tax rates and rates on dividends and capital gains have been central to the dispute because many business owners (including those with S-Corps., partnerships, limited liability companies and sole proprietorships) pay taxes on their business profits through their individual tax returns.
There are fiscal cliffs, then there are fiscal black holes. The difference? The cliff, you fall over just once. But a black hole increases its pull on you more and more each day. And that’s a disturbingly accurate description of the problem now faced by Rhode Island and virtually every other state: the ever-growing challenge of underfunded pensions for government employees.... More
For more than a year, politicians have been fighting over whether to raise taxes on high-income people. They rarely mention that affluent Americans will soon be hit with new taxes adopted as part of the 2010 health care law. The new levies, which take effect in January, include an increase in the payroll tax on wages and a tax on investment income, including interest, dividends and capital gains.More
As the state attempts to reach the goal of producing one-third of its electricity from wind and solar sources by 2020, more reliable sources of traditional power will be needed as a backup.More
One of the less remarked-upon aspects of Britain’s current economic downturn is the mushroomlike growth of the charity shop—the rough equivalent of Goodwill stores in the United States. Charity shops have always been with us here, but not nearly as many.More
In Rhode Island, a pension-reform plan hailed as a national model is being challenged as unconstitutional. Striking down reform would be a disastrous move -- not only for budgets but also for constitutional governance itself.More
The U.S. birth rate has hit a record low led by a big drop in the portion of immigrant women having babies.
The path to infrastructure wealth is to remove the obstacles to private investment in our public infrastructure.
If the 2001 tax cuts -- which were extended in 2010 -- expire as scheduled on Jan. 1, 2013, the federal estate tax will revert to its 2001 status, bringing back higher tax rates and lower exemption levels, which will have an impact on the state death taxes, also.More
Should debt-ridden and economically struggling Western governments be doing everything possible to reduce their deficits? Should we cut spending or hike taxes to reduce our debt-to-GDP ratios? This column argues that the answer is obvious: the cheapest, most effective and confidence-inspiring route is to cut spending.More
New York State looks to be a big loser in any deal to avoid the federal fiscal cliff.More
For all of women’s success, there’s one area in which the rumor of male demise has been greatly exaggerated. At the top of every industry, men remain in charge. Finance, law, medicine, business, government, media, academia—you’ll have a tough time finding enough alpha-level women in any of these fields to fill a Davos conference room.More