Ten years into what will soon be the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, 40% of families say they are still struggling, according to a new report from the Urban Institute. “Nearly 4 in 10 nonelderly adults reported that in 2018, their families experienced material hardship—defined as trouble paying or being unable to pay for housing, utilities, food, or medical care at some point during the year—which was not significantly different from the share reporting these difficulties for the previous year,” the report says. “Among adults in families with incomes below twice the federal poverty level (FPL), over 60 percent reported at least one type of material hardship in 2018.”
“The health care services that rack up the highest out-of-pocket costs for patients aren't the same ones that cost the most to the health care system overall,” says Axios’s Caitlin Owens. That may distort our view of how the system works and how best to fix it. For example, Americans spend more out-of-pocket on dental services ($53 billion) than they do on hospital care ($34 billion), but the latter is a much larger part of national health care spending as a whole.
Despite the Republican tax overhaul, businesses aren’t significantly increasing their capital expenditures. “The federal government will have to borrow an added $1 trillion through 2027 to pay for the corporate tax breaks,” says Bloomberg’s Mark Whitehouse. “So far, it’s hard to see what the country is getting in return.”
Roll Call reports that trade, infrastructure and health care issues including prescription drug prices “dominated the lobbying agendas of some of the biggest spenders on K Street early this year.” Here’s Roll Call’s look at the top lobbying spenders so far this year:
The Congressional Budget Office released an interactive tool Wednesday that shows how some widely discussed policy changes would affect the long-run financial health of the Social Security system.
“This interactive tool allows the user to explore seven policy options that could be used to improve the Social Security program’s finances and delay the trust funds’ exhaustion,” CBO said. “Four options would reduce benefits, and three options would increase payroll taxes. The tool allows for any combination of those options. It also lets the user change implementation dates and choose whether to show scheduled or payable benefits. … The tool also shows the impact of the options on different groups of people.”