Jared Bernstein & Ben Spielberg

Jared Bernstein is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

Ben Spielberg is a research associate with the CBPP, where he manages its Full Employment Project.

Recent Articles

The Progressive Agenda Now: Jobs and Medicare for All

Playing defense is necessary, but Democrats need some compelling ideas on offense as well.

(Photo: Sipa USA via AP)
(Photo: Sipa USA via AP) Hundreds of members of National Nurses United and "Medicare for All" supporters rally in New York City on January 15, 2017. T he coming years will require progressives to play extremely tough defense if we hope to preserve gains we’ve made. That means highlighting the disconnect between the promises that Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers have made and their actual proposals, and hammering home who their plans are designed to help: people who are already very wealthy. It also means mobilizing in our communities to exert pressure on politicians, as progressives did with considerable success during the recent health-care debate. But it’s obvious that defense isn’t enough. To win over and mobilize the public, social justice advocates must articulate what we’re for, not just what we’re against. The American people deserve better than what’s currently on offer from team Trump, but for many, the status quo also falls short. If progressives are to fulfill one of...

The Republicans’ $370 Billion Cut to Medicaid

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite House Speaker Paul Ryan meets with reporters on Capitol Hill. trickle-downers.jpg A ccording to Republicans in the House of Representatives, block grants “give states the freedom to tailor their individual programs to address the diverse needs of communities.” According to the historical record, block grants are thinly disguised budget cuts . In their newly released plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are proposing to convert Medicaid—the program that provides health coverage to almost 100 million low-income Americans each year—from a program that expands with need and thus provides a reliable safety net, to a type of block-grant program called a per capita cap . This funding mechanism provides states a fixed amount of federal Medicaid dollars per recipient with loose restrictions on how the money can be used. But the level of funding provided to the states declines dramatically. According to a new estimate , the House...

Three Reasons Trickle-Down Tax Cuts Don’t Work

(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock) History shows that bad economic ideas almost never die, especially when they serve the wealthy and powerful. There’s no better example of this truth than trickle-down tax cuts. As we write this, the Trump administration is teeing up a tax plan that slashes taxes for the wealthy and the corporate sector, does little for everyone else (repealing the Affordable Care Act actually raises taxes on some with low and moderate incomes), and stiffs the U.S. Treasury to the tune of $6.2 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center’s estimates. Evidence does not hurt this zombie. We and others have shown the lack of correlation between tax changes and the indices of growth—GDP, jobs, incomes—touted by the trickle downers. Among those claiming that Trump’s plan will spur economic growth are the same folks who told us that a trickle-down tax cut experiment in Kansas in 2013 would bring an “immediate and lasting boost” to the state’s economy. Four years later, that immediate...

Watch Out for Even More Tax Breaks -- for the Rich

How we squander resources through the tax code, and how that could get a lot worse in the age of Trump

(Photo: AP/Matt Rourke)
(Photo: AP/Matt Rourke) This article will appear in the Winter 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . trickle-downers.jpg T hink, if you will, about taxing and spending. The former—taxing—occurs when the government levies some claim on your income. It could be a local sales tax on a tube of toothpaste, a Medicare or Social Security deduction from your paycheck, or an income tax check to the federal IRS. Spending is what the government does with tax revenue. Local governments spend your property taxes on public schools; the feds finance social insurance, defense, the safety net, and so on. Many people think that taxing and spending, while complementary, are entirely distinct. Not so. There’s an important way in which the federal government spends through the tax code. The technical term is tax expenditures. These include tax credits, deductions, and exemptions. You can’t begin to understand the scope, the inequities, and some of the venerable benefits of our tax...

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