Kalena Thomhave

Kalena Thomhave is a writing fellow at the Prospect.

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Recent Articles

Rent Increases and Work Requirements for the Poor, Mortgage-Interest Deductions for the Rich

The Trump administration’s proposal to reduce housing assistance for the poor couldn’t contrast more sharply from the housing assistance showered on the rich. 

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson takes his seat before testifying before a House Committee on Appropriation subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill T he Trump administration’s proposal to reform housing programs for the poor, unveiled last week, is just one among its many plans to gut anti-poverty programs, even as its authors bleat platitudes about getting people “back to work.” The proposal from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), outlined in the 2019 president’s budget, would raise rents on around four million families who receive federal rental assistance. HUD proposes increasing recipients’ rent payments from 30 percent of gross income to 35 percent, and also triples the minimum required rent payment from a $50 cap to about $150. On average, people would see their rents raised by about 44 percent . In addition to forcing people living in poverty to hand over money that’s probably already earmarked for other...

Even the CBO Says the GOP Tax Reform Will Incentivize Corporate Offshoring

The Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the new tax law suggests it could incentivize companies to offshore investments and jobs, which is directly at odds with GOP claims about the tax law.

Lars Halbauer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Lars Halbauer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images A fter the release of the GOP’s tax reform plan, several outlets, including the Prospect , noted that new tax provisions would incentivize corporate offshoring, instead of protecting jobs and raising wages as promised. But recently, even the Congressional Budget Office, the independent entity charged with nonpartisan analysis for Congress, agreed that tax reform could encourage companies to stash profits overseas—and also offshore American jobs. In December, House Speaker Paul Ryan published on his website that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act benefits “job creators of all sizes” as it “Prevents American jobs, headquarters, and research from moving overseas by eliminating incentives that now reward companies for shifting jobs, profits, and manufacturing plants abroad.” Observers like the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy and the Tax Policy Center pointed out that that wasn’t the case. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities...

Audits Endanger Tax Credits for the Working Poor

When workers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit are audited, they’re less likely to claim the credit, a powerful anti-poverty tool, in the following years.

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) A professional tax preparer views a Form 1040. I n 2017, 27 million families received the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable tax credit available to people with low incomes who work. While the EITC has been described as a subsidy for low-wage employers, the credit still materially puts, on average, $2,445 in the pockets of low-income people. But a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) finds that EITC claimants who are audited are less likely to claim the credit in the following years. This is particularly significant because House Republicans recently proposed expanding Internal Revenue Service review of EITC returns. The NBER researchers looked at the behavior of taxpayers who received the EITC—both those who were audited (through correspondence audit ) and those who weren’t. Their study found that, after receiving a correspondence audit, people who claimed the EITC in a particular year were 30 percent less likely to...

A Tough Week for the Social Safety Net

States from Tennessee to Wisconsin are mirroring the Trump administration’s enthusiasm for eviscerating anti-poverty programs.

(AP Photo/Scott Bauer)
(AP Photo/Scott Bauer) Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker describes his proposal to reduce food stamp benefits for parents who do not meet work requirements on January 23, 2017. T he past few days have been difficult, on both the state and federal level, for the country’s already frayed social safety net. Several states, taking their cues from the Trump administration, have restricted and made cuts to anti-poverty programs, and this week, too, the federal government has joined in the shredding of welfare assistance. The week began with the tiniest of hopes, as the Republican-dominated Tennessee State Legislature voted Monday to raise cash assistance levels for the first time in 22 years. But the abysmal increase brings total benefits for a family of three to just 16 percent of the poverty line, and that same state legislature is moving forward with Medicaid work requirements that could strip health care from thousands of adults with children. In Wisconsin on Tuesday, Republican Governor...

Tennessee Republicans Experience Cognitive Dissonance on Poverty

Tennessee has increased welfare benefits for the first time in 22 years, while also proposing to kick people off medical and food assistance.

AP Photo/Mark Zaleski Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam speaks at the General Assembly W ith this week’s “welfare reform” executive order from President Trump, which calls for work requirements in public assistance programs across the board, the outlook for anti-poverty programs is bleak. And this current anti-welfare climate has also made it easier for states to overhaul their public assistance programs. Tennessee, which has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, is one such state. Republican Governor Bill Haslam has proposed a number of welfare reforms that he has asked the Republican-controlled legislature to pass. In two moves supported by the Trump administration, the governor has already announced that the state will further limit food assistance for adults without children, and the legislature may well impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients ( using dollars earmarked for the cash assistance program to implement and monitor those requirements. But at least some...

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