With the income-tax filing deadline approaching and many people focusing on how much they owe in taxes, it may come as a surprise that federal tax burdens for most income groups— and, in particular, for middle-income households — are at their lowest levels in decades, and were low by historical standards even before the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.
In a new study, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, economists who have done groundbreaking work on the historical evolution of income inequality in the United States, examine how the progressivity of the federal tax system has changed over time. Unlike previous analyses, theirs examines effective federal tax rates going back to 1960, including income, payroll, corporate, and estate taxes, and provides data for income groups reaching up to the top one-hundredth of one percent (.01 percent) of the population. Several crucial findings emerge from their study.
Poor families in many states face substantial state income tax liability for the 2006 tax year. In 19 of the 42 states that levy income taxes, two-parent families of four with incomes below the federal poverty line are liable for income tax. In 15 of the 42 states, poor single-parent families of three pay income tax. And 29 of these states collect taxes from families of four with incomes just above the poverty line.
Extensive research has documented the positive effects that health insurance has on a child’s physical, developmental, social, and emotional health. Children who have health insurance are more likely to have a relationship with the same doctor over time, receive regular well-child checkups, and have their medical, dental, vision, and other health care needs met. But what happens when an uninsured child is seriously injured or develops a condition that requires hospitalization? Does health insurance make a difference in the child’s treatment and health outcomes? The answer is an emphatic “yes.”
In 2005, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen made the largest cuts in health coverage in our nation’s history. Thousands upon thousands of people were dropped from TennCare, the state’s innovative Medicaid program. Others who remained in the program had their benefits slashed. It was obvious that these drastic cuts would cause enormous harm. The governor, however, dismissed these concerns and moved forward with his plan.
Governor Bredesen not only touted his plan within Tennessee, but he also recommended that other states make similar changes. At the time he was promoting Medicaid cuts, many states were facing budget crunches and looking for ways to cut costs. The TennCare cuts became a potential forerunner of what could happen to health coverage programs across the country.
Against this backdrop, it is instructive to look beyond the numbers and see what has happened to the real people affected by the TennCare cuts—that is what this book is designed to do.
Source: Mental Health Weekly, Vol. 17 no. 17, April 30, 2007
Legislation, which includes violence protection training, soon to become law.
House bill 1456, also known as the Marty Smith bill would provide backup for mental health professionals during home visits. The bill is names in honor of Smith, a County Designated Mental Health Professional (CDMHP) at Kitsap Mental Health, a private not-for-profit community mental health center in Bremerton, Wash., who was killed on Nov. 4, 2005 when he went to provide care for a client during a home visit.
Texas is amassing an unprecedented amount of information on its citizens
Piece by piece, Gov. Rick Perry’s homeland security office is gathering massive amounts of information about Texas residents and merging it to create the most exhaustive centralized database in state history. Warehoused far from Texas on servers housed at a private company in Louisville, Kentucky, the Texas Data Exchange—TDEx to those in the loop—is designed to be an all-encompassing intelligence database. It is supposed to help catch criminals, ferret out terrorist cells, and allow disparate law enforcement agencies to share information. More than $3.6 million has been spent on the project so far, and it already has tens of millions of records. At least 7,000 users are presently allowed access to this information, and tens of thousands more are anticipated.
What is most striking, and disturbing, about the database is that it is not being run by the state’s highest law enforcement agency—the Texas Department of Public Safety. Instead, control of TDEx, and the power to decide who can use it, resides in the governor’s office.
Source: Mental Health Weekly, Vol. 17 no. 17, April 30, 2007
A national center for clinical social work was recently formed with the hope of representing the nation’s 200,000 clinical social workers, who constitute the largest mental health profession in the United States, said officials from the Salem, Mass., based Canter for Clinical Social Work, Inc. The Center is intended to be a unifying force amid the diversity and dynamism of the profession, said center officials.
Soldiers returning from Iraq aren’t receiving their education stipends until it’s too late
…Many veterans who applied under the 1984 Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) say they faced black-hole bureaucracy and college costs that far exceeded benefits….
…Because many colleges require payment upfront, and benefit checks from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) typically arrive months after the semester begins, veterans often have to pony up thousands of dollars in tuition, fees and living expenses to enter school…
Source: Joe Connor, Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, Vol. 50 no. 2, March-April, 2007
It is hard to find any evidence that tax increases reduce the work-effort of high-income earners, according to this economist. Meantime, traditional families in the lower-income half of our population have been faring badly for most of the past quarter century even without comparing them to the top fifth and especially to the top 5 percent who have done so well. The only good years the traditional family has had in the past twenty-five followed a tax increase in 1993. All those gains have been lost since the tax decrease in 2001.