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Joint Economic Committee Democrats Chairman - Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)

Reports & Issue Briefs

Fiscal Responsibility: Which Party has a Better Record?

When it comes to fiscal responsibility, Democratic administrations have a proven track record. The great majority of our national debt has been incurred by the past three Republican administrations. Instead of building up surpluses in preparation for the upcoming retirement of the Baby Boom generation, the current Bush administration has abandoned fiscal discipline and permitted the debt to skyrocket.

Sharp Contrast Between Parties on Annual Public Borrowing

• The U.S. government has borrowed over $5 trillion from the public in the past thirty years. In 2007, American taxpayers will pay $235 billion in net interest payments to service this debt, or 9.1 cents on every dollar of government revenues.

Over One-Third of the Total National Debt Has Been Incurred Under the Current Administration

• About $3.2 trillion of our $8.9 trillion total national debt has been accumulated during the past six years of the current Administration.

• Almost three-quarters of the total national debt has been accumulated under the past three Republican administrations – Reagan, George Bush Sr., and the current George Bush.

For the full text of this report, please click on the file listed under "Related Resources."

American Families are Losing Ground on Bush's Watch; Income Down, Poverty Up Since 2000

The U.S. Census Bureau released its 2006 report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage in the United States . Although median household income rose slightly in 2006, after adjusting for inflation, the report showed that all but the richest of American households have seen their incomes decline since 2000. The JEC compiled highlights of the Census Bureau's report and analysis of economic conditions under the Bush administration in three fact sheets focusing on poverty, income, and health insurance.

 

Poverty

Each year, the Census Bureau releases new estimates on the number and percent of Americans living in poverty. Under the Bush administration, the number of Americans living in poverty has increased by 4.9 million people. Today, nearly one out of every eight Americans is living below the federal poverty line.

Income

New estimates by the Census Bureau show that real (inflation-adjusted) median household income increased slightly between 2005 and 2006. From 2000 to 2006, however, real median household income fell by 2.0 percent, with the poorest households experiencing disproportionately large declines even as the richest households saw their incomes rise. Those data confirm that the vast majority of Americans have not benefited from economic growth over the past six years.

Health Insurance

Both the number of Americans without health insurance coverage and the uninsured as a percentage of the population rose in 2006, according to the latest estimates by the Census Bureau. The number of people without health insurance is the largest on record and has increased in every year since President Bush took office.

 

For the full text of these reports, please click on the files listed under "Related Resources."

 

 

 

CHIP Makes Economic Sense

As the Senate prepares to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee and a member of the Senate Finance Committee, released a new fact sheet highlighting the benefits of reauthorizing and expanding CHIP.  According to the fact sheet, entitled “CHIP Makes Economic Sense,” CHIP has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured children since its creation in 1997.  Over one million children currently covered by the program stand to lose coverage under the President’s reauthorization proposal, as states would face a total federal funding shortfall of as much as $7.6 billion over the next five years.

 

Key Facts

 

·          CHIP has dramatically reduced the percentage of uninsured children.

·          Together with Medicaid, CHIP has ensured that disadvantaged children receive critical preventive care.

·          Investing in children’s health insurance is a sound public investment.

·          Children with health insurance are more likely to enter adulthood with greater employment and earnings potential.

·          CHIP is a cost-effective way to ensure that millions of low-income, uninsured children receive quality health care.

·          CHIP is not “government-run health care”.

·          Despite CHIP’s success, about nine million children remain uninsured.

 

 

For the full text of this report, please click on the file listed under "Related Resources."

Report Update: Sheltering Neighborhoods from the Subprime Foreclosure Storm

In an update to the Joint Economic Committee's March report, "Sheltering Neighborhoods from the Subprime Foreclosure Storm," the JEC finds that foreclosures continue to rise across the nation as more and more subprime borrowers’ loans reset to higher rates in a weak housing environment.

 Key Facts

·          Home Foreclosures are on the Rise.

·          Foreclosures Exact a High Toll on Families.

·          Foreclosures are Costly to Communities.

·    Neighboring Homeowners Lose 1 Percent in Property Value Per Foreclosure on  their Block.

·      A Vacant Property Can Cost Local Taxpayers $20,000 in Annual Maintenance.

·   Foreclosure Prevention Counseling Saves Families’ Homes and Communities.

·          Foreclosure Prevention is a Cost-Effective Strategy.

 

 

For the full text of this report, please click on the file listed under "Related Resources."

  

 

 Energy Efficiency is a Bright Idea

Each time a family decides to change a light bulb, upgrade a heating or cooling system, or buy a new appliance or a new car, that family is making a decision that impacts both its pocketbook and the environment. High energy prices and rising awareness of the consequences of global warming have led more consumers to factor energy and environmental costs into their decisions to invest in new homes, appliances and vehicles. Even so, many Americans remain unaware of the private and social benefits of energy-efficient technologies and practices. Energy efficiency translates into lower household energy costs, less pollution and fewer greenhouse gas emissions for all of us. Additionally, increasing household energy efficiency can work to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign fuel sources.

For the full text of this report, please click on the file listed under "Related Resources."

 

 

 

 Money in the Bank, Not in the Tank

In the past week, retail gasoline prices have surged to their highest levels ever to a national average of over $3.22 a gallon. As the Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer driving season, many industry analysts expect that gas prices will only continue to rise.

There are a number of reasons that gasoline prices have hit these unprecedented levels, including increased demand, reduced refinery capacity, and the impact of consolidation in the petroleum industry. As gas prices rise, the costs to American families become more onerous. This year alone, families with children can expect to spend an average of $3,180 to fill up their tanks. This is money that would be better spent on education, health care, and saving for retirement, but instead it ends up in our nation’s gas tanks.

There is little question that the long-term solution to our energy problems lies with encouraging the production and use of alternative fuels. But it will take a long time to achieve such basic shifts in energy use. In the near-term, American families need policy solutions that will provide them with real savings.

For the full text of this report, please click on the file listed under "Related Resources."

 

 

 

 

As the costs of raising a child continue to increase, working families need assistance to make ends meet and manage the difficulties of balancing work and family. Several provisions in the federal tax code are available to help families with children: the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Dependent Care Assistance Programs. This report provides a summary of the maximum federal values of these credits and similar state credits.

For the full text of this report, please click on the file listed under "Related Resources."

 

 

 The Economic Benefits of Investing in High-Quality Preschool Education

Future fiscal challenges, global economic competition, and shifting demographic trends all highlight the need for policies to improve the skills and productivity of American workers and thereby increase future living standards. A promising strategy for achieving these aims is expanding government investment in high-quality preschool education.

Government funding of education in general has long been justified on the grounds of the significant public good that comes of having an educated population. Reliable evaluations of high-quality preschool have shown that this argument extends to preschool specifically.

High-quality preschool programs improve the futures of participants by raising their ultimate educational attainment and earnings levels and by reducing the likelihood that they will engage in socially harmful behaviors. These outcomes in turn ease the burden on public resources, allowing government spending to shift toward more productive uses. As much as 80 percent of the projected benefit of high-quality preschool for disadvantaged children goes to the public. In the long term, investing in high-quality preschool available to all children has been estimated to increase gross domestic product by as much as 3.5 percent, further enhancing U.S. living standards.

For the full text of this report, please click on the file listed under "Related Resources."

 

 

 Most Baby Boomers are Saving Enough, But Many are at Risk of Significant Shortfalls

As the first wave of baby boomers reaches the traditional retirement age next year, the question of whether workers are preparing adequately for retirement has become more important than ever. Despite numerous media reports on boomers’ dire retirement prospects, by various measures the average baby boomer household is on track to retire comfortably. Nevertheless, a significant minority of boomers—particularly those at the bottom of the income and wealth distributions—is at risk of a substantial decline in living standards during retirement. Moreover, the baby boom generation faces a number of uncertainties that may leave them less prepared for retirement than what the data would suggest.

The U.S. retirement system has traditionally been described as a three-legged stool made up of Social Security, employersponsored retirement plans, and personal saving. It is important that Social Security and private pension plans remain stable and secure, and that all families, but particularly those with less income and wealth, have the opportunity and incentive to increase their own personal saving.

For the full text of this report, please click on the file listed under "Related Resources."

 

 SPECIAL MOTHER'S DAY REPORT: Helping Military Moms Balance Family and Longer Deployments

This Mother’s Day marks the fourth year of the U.S. military’s presence in Iraq and the sixth year of the U.S. military's presence in Afghanistan. Women make up a significant percentage of the current active duty force, representing one in seven U.S. military personnel in Iraq.1 Mothers in the military, those in the active duty force and the spouses of male service members, make up a substantial portion of women in the military.

Like mothers in the civilian world, mothers in the military face challenges in balancing work with family, such as meeting monthly expenses, finding and accessing high quality child care, and accessing quality health care services for their families and themselves. Yet, military moms often face the added burden of lengthy and more frequent deployments and separation from their children and spouses. While the military has taken steps to address the needs of mothers within its ranks, the added strain on the military caused by the long mission in Iraq putting even more stress on military mothers.

Key challenges facing military mothers include the following:

Child care services are not meeting current needs, or increased demands due to deployment;

Short family leave periods after child birth and adoption impact the retention of mothers in the military; and

Limited resources dedicated to mental health services to help military mothers and their children

For the full text of this report, please click on the file listed under "Related Resources."