Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tax code spending disproportionately helps the wealthy; LSU students host forum on budget cuts; No funding for presidential preference primary and; Affordable Care Act gaining popularity

Tax code spending disproportionately helps the wealthy

A new study finds that much of the  federal spending channeled through the tax code benefits the wealthiest taxpayers. The study by the the Corporation for Enterprise Development says the top 1 percent of income earners received $95 billion of the $340 billion in federal tax subsidies in 2013. The bottom 80 percent, meanwhile, received $90 billion. As the New York times reports:


Those at the tippy-top of the income scale — the top 0.1 percent, with an average annual income of $7.6 million — received an average of $33,391 in federal tax payouts analyzed by the group. Those in the bottom 60 percent, who earn less than $65,000, got less than $1,000 on average, altogether about 12 percent of the billions handed out. A 2013 report from the Congressional Budget Office that looked at the 10 largest tax subsidies, worth a total of $900 billion, found that more than half went to households in the top fifth on the income scale.”


LSU students host forum on budget cuts

Questions about the consequences of looming budget cuts and a general anxiety that a Louisiana degree will lose value as a result were on the minds of students at an LSU forum last night. The Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp reports:


LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander, one of the panelists, said leaders are forced to face the worst-case scenario as they plan for the coming school year: a cut of up to $800 million, he said…Alexander and [ULL System President Sandra] Woodley’s answers: There could be canceled classes. Depending on whether programs have to be cut, degrees could lose value. If it’s worst-case, then all campuses could be at risk, but it’s unlikely there will be closures.


The forum was sponsored by Geaux Vote LSU, a student organization that plans to lobby legislators and push back against budget cuts. LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander, for one, seems to be a supporter of more student engagement.


“Be annoying,” Alexander advised students at one point. “Sometimes, you don’t have to be so polite. This is a time when you need to fight.”


No funding for presidential preference primary

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed budget has no funding for elections held after December, which means the presidential preference primary election slated for Spring of 2016 may not happen. The Advocate reports that Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says giving Louisiana a voice in the process is important, but “We think the Secretary of State should find other ways to balance his budget and fund the primary.”


Secretary of State Tom Schedler told the House Appropriations Committee that he wants to hold a primary, but only if there is money in his budget to pay for it.                                                            

The Secretary of State’s office is slated to receive $75 million next fiscal year, down from $79 million last year. Schedler said that he also will have to close down a voter outreach program and limit most museums to one day weeks and won’t run any elections in 2016.


Affordable Care Act gaining popularity

The New York Times reports that the number of Americans who embrace the Affordable Care Act continues to grow, citing a Kaiser Health poll showing 41 percent polled have a favorable view of the health care law while 43 percent do not. Those numbers are significantly closer than numbers received last July when only 37 percent of those polled approved of the ACA while 53 percent gave it a thumbs down.


Forty percent of respondents said they would like to see Congress repeal or scale back the law, while 46 percent said they would prefer that Congress move forward with carrying out the law or expand what it does. Still, Mr. Altman (president of the Kaiser Family Foundation) noted, most Republicans continue to oppose the law, and most Democrats continue to favor it. “Opinion on the A.C.A. is still stuck in an intractable partisan divide,” he said. The poll also found that a majority of respondents were worried about the potential impact of a case before the Supreme Court that could limit health insurance subsidies available under the law to people in states that run their own online marketplaces. Sixty-two percent said such a ruling would have a negative impact on the country, while 23 percent said the impact would be positive.


Number of the Day

$3,960 – The average subsidy in 2015 to help pay health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act. (Source: The New York Times)