Posts from January 2012

Social Insurance

Graph: Busting the Myths about Food Stamps

Post by: Benjamin Landy , on January 24, 2012

Last week, I commented on a terrific graph published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that refuted presidential candidate Mitt Romney's false claim that the majority of federal funding for poverty prevention programs like Medicaid and food stamps (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) is wasted on "massive overhead," leaving few dollars for the intended beneficiaries. In fact, the CBPP found that the administrative expenses for these and other social programs range from less than 1 percent to just 8 percent of total costs, hardly the bureaucratic bloodsucking Romney claimed.

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Workers & Economic Inequality

Graph: Capital Gains Drive Inequality

Post by: Benjamin Landy , on January 4, 2012

As the mainstream Republican establishment begins to coalesce around Mitt Romney following his caucus victory in Iowa, the former Massachusetts governor should also come under increased scrutiny for his hardline conservative positions on tax policy, which many Americans rightly perceive as out of touch with both fiscal reality and growing economic inequality. Romney’s stated opposition to any new income taxes and his promise to lower capital gains tax rates and eliminate the estate tax look particularly out of touch in light of a new report from the Congressional Research Service, which concludes that capital gains—the primary source of income for Mitt Romney and others in the top 1 percent—are now the single greatest driver of income inequality today.

According to the report, GDP grew a healthy 38 percent in the decade between 1996 and 2006 (the last year before the boom-bust cycle of 2007-2008), with average inflation-adjusted after-tax income increasing about 25 percent. But that average conceals an astounding divergence in outcomes between the nation's richest and poorest citizens: while income of the wealtheist 1 percent nearly doubled, the bottom 20 percent actually saw their income decrease by 6 percent. And because the CRS analysis only used data from active tax filers, those numbers may even underestimate the true width of the income gap.

Growth in real after tax income by group 96-06

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