While the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has proven to be one of the most effective tools for fighting poverty, it is consistently in the crosshairs of conservative lawmakers. These persistent threats cause SNAP proponents to be wary of any significant changes. The Washington Post’s Leana S. Wen provides five reforms, such as reducing food deserts, that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree on: 

When I served as Baltimore’s health commissioner, the city partnered with a supermarket to deliver groceries to senior centers and libraries. We helped corner stores, which for some residents are the only source of accessible food, to improve refrigeration and stock produce. There are many such efforts in communities around the country. But while there is hardly any political opposition to them, little appetite exists to fund them through municipal budgets. Private philanthropy should continue funding these pilots, but cities and states also need to invest in increasing food access.

America needs to invest in its future 
Americans currently achieve lower educational attainment levels, live shorter lives and experience longer travel times than their counterparts in other developed countries. But it hasn’t always been this way. During the 20th century, the United States made significant and recurring investments in programs focused on the future that other countries strove to emulate. Unfortunately, this philosophy faltered under President Ronald Reagan’s administration in the latter part of the century and the country has never fully recovered. The New York Times’ David Leonhardt examines what it would take to revive this spirit:

After becoming president in 1953, Eisenhower recognized that if government did not make vital investments, nobody would. “The principal contradiction in the whole system comes about because of the inability of men to forgo immediate gain for a longtime good,” he once wrote. “We do not yet have a sufficient number of people who are ready to make the immediate sacrifice in favor of a long-term investment.” … Whatever happens, the stakes should be clear by now. A government that does not devote sufficient resources to the future will produce a society that is ultimately less prosperous, less innovative, less healthy and less mobile than it could be. 

Covid-relief fiscal cliff
The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds provided $350 billion to keep state, local and tribal governments afloat during the pandemic. But those funds are set to expire by the end of 2026. While some states, such as Louisiana, were responsible and used relief for one-time or short-term purposes, others allocated dollars for recurring expenses. Route Fifty’s Beverly S. Bunch and William Glasgall outline how states can prevent budget shortfalls when federal relief dollars dry up. 

One-time funds should be used for one-time purposes. … Other state budgeting practices should facilitate a multiyear planning approach. States should develop long-term revenue and expenditure forecasts, which could address the loss of federal funds. Along with conducting stress tests to gauge budget performance and maintaining sufficient rainy day funds and other reserves, this strategy will help officials recognize the risk of a fiscal cliff and give them time to avoid it.

Life expectancy falling faster for adults without college degrees
Average life expectancy for adults without bachelor’s degrees has declined over the past decade, according to new research from Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. Anne Case, co-author of the paper, sat down with the Brookings podcast to discuss the troubling mortality gap between those with and without college degrees. 

So in all three periods that we lay out in this paper, the gap in adult life expectancy grew from a little more than 2 years in the early 1990s, to 5 years at the eve of COVID, and more than 7 years by the end of 2021. And before we move on, I just want to make note of the fact that that decade-long decline in life expectancy for people without a B.A. from 2010 to 2020, when life expectancy was moving in different directions for these groups, that’s almost unheard of in modern times. The only other place that that was seen was in Eastern Europe just after the breakup of the Soviet Union, which gives you some sense of the company that the U.S. is currently keeping.

Number of the Day
48.36% – Percentage increase in federal funds for Louisiana from fiscal year 2019 through 2021. The national average was 42.87%. (Source: Pew analysis of data from U.S. Census Bureau, 2021 Annual Survey of State Government Finances)