The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released its annual report on the federal government’s long-term budget outlook, which unsurprisingly remains bleak. Policymakers have known for years that the federal government’s long-term fiscal situation is unsustainable. Unfortunately, they have taken little action to address the situation. The longer Washington waits to get its financial house in order, the more difficult it will be to rectify the situation.
This week’s chart is a re-creation of a chart produced by the Richmond Fed. The share of financial sector liabilities subject to implicit or explicit government protection from losses grew from 45 percent in 1999 to 60 percent in 2013 and amounts to a staggering $26 trillion.
This week's charts compare the lifetime tax rates of couples in five different income brackets at three ages and for three separate tax scenarios: the current tax regime, a 57 percent tax increase in 2013, and a 69 percent tax increase in 2034. As the charts show, increasing federal taxes would raise each family’s lifetime tax rate and decrease each family’s lifetime spending. Delaying the tax increase would lower the burden on current taxpayers, helping the elderly now but shifting the tax bill onto future generations.
Federal agencies issue guidance documents that typically consist of sets of instructions or announcements written to inform regulated parties how to stay in compliance with the law. Owing to a confusing set of events, it is unclear whether these documents are receiving executive branch oversight from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). In the case of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), hundreds of guidance documents appear on its website, yet there is almost no evidence of oversight from OIRA.
An uninformed listener hearing the debate over the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank would think that, in most states, most exports are backed by financing from Ex-Im. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The charter of the US Export-Import Bank is set to expire on June 30 unless it is reauthorized by Congress. Scare tactics aside, the end of Ex-Im would not mean the loss of thousands of American jobs. Economists have long understood that subsidies doled out by government credit agencies such as the Ex-Im Bank are not merely unnecessary: they can actually harm the economy. In their quest to keep the subsidies flowing, proponents of the bank are claiming that failure to reauthorize its charter would lead to massive job losses. This blatant fearmongering has succeeded in causing concern among some lawmakers.
The cause of last week’s tragic crash of Amtrak train 188 in Philadelphia remains unknown. Some policymakers and pundits immediately pinned the blame on a lack of federal funding for the government-owned and -managed passenger rail operator. This week’s chart shows the annual amount of federal operating and capital funding that Amtrak has received since it was created by the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, including a generous allocation in 2009, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
The existence of a CON program is detrimental to the welfare of the residents of the state, regardless of the number of restrictions. Even for states with only a few restrictions, Stratmann and Russ find that the presence of a CON program in a state is associated with fewer hospital beds, Computed Tomography (CT) scanners, and MRI machines.
Using the bank’s own data, the chart shows that, of the total amount of financing authorized by the Ex-Im Bank from FY 2007 to FY 2014, only 23 percent benefitted small businesses. Minority-owned and women-owned firms received a paltry 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively. While government programs should operate on the principle that everyone is “equal under the law,” it would seem that this principle does not apply to the Ex-Im Bank’s export subsidies.
Rebounding after disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods can be daunting. Communities must have residents who can not only gain access to the resources that they need to rebuild but can overcome the collective action problem that characterizes post-disaster relief efforts.