Weekly Roundup

Weekly Roundup

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In a July 14 study, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget examined the long-term impact on the federal budget from the recently enacted health care reform, finding that it will lower the budget deficit by a small amount.

On July 14, the Employee Benefit Research Institute released data showing that the elderly have seen a significant increase in income over the last 34 years. Between 1974 and 2008, the median real income of those aged 65 or older (in 2009 dollars) has risen to $18,001 from $13,262, and the average real income has risen to $28,778 from $18,715.

Also on July 14, the Council of Economic Advisers released its fourth quarterly report on the stimulus program. It finds that as of the second quarter of 2010, GDP was higher by between 2.7 percent and 3.2 percent than would be the case without stimulus. It estimates that employment was between 2.5 million and 3.6 million higher.

And on July 14, the House Budget Committee held a hearing on last's year's stimulus bill. Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center was highly critical, Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute argued that it worked pretty much as advertised.

The Mercatus Center released a working paper on July 14 by economists Robert J. Barro and Charles Redlick that finds a negative economic effect from government purchases and higher average marginal tax rates.

In a July 13 study, the Center for Economic and Policy Research examined various proposals currently under discussion for reducing Social Security benefits in order to put the system on a long term sustainable basis. It finds that these cuts would primarily impact those with low and middle incomes.

In a July 12 article, law professors Marvin Chirelstein and Lawrence Zelenak discuss the impact of expiration of the Bush tax cuts next year primarily in terms of the impact on income inequality. They suggest that the income be tax be indexed to changes in pretax income inequality.

A July article by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis economists Natalia A. Kolesnikova and Yang Liu examined the economic progress of black men in major cities between 1970 and 2000. They find that although educational attainment improved a great deal, wages and annual incomes relative to white men showed very little progress.

A July NBER working paper by economists Gary Engelhardt and Jonathan Gruber found that the welfare gain to the elderly from Medicare Part D was quite modest because it largely replaced private insurance coverage.

In a June 25 study, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that the incomes of the ultra-rich continued to grow much faster than all other income groups through 2007, based on Congressional Budget Office data.

On June 21, the Business Roundtable and the Business Council sent to the White House a report on "policy burdens inhibiting economic growth." (Note: In my opinion, while some of these issues may be meaningful, the vast bulk have been kicking around for many years or are trivial in nature, in macroeconomic terms, reflecting a "laundry list" approach rather than a serious effort to put forth a program that would deal with current economic conditions.)

Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He blogs daily and writes a weekly column at The Fiscal Times. Read his most recent column here. Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006).

Previous posts:

July 15: Tax Policy 
July 14: Do Tax Cuts Starve the Beast?
July 13: Focus on Value-Added Tax 
July 12: Focus on Stimulus 

Bruce Bartlett’s columns focus on the intersection of politics and economics. The author of seven books, he worked in government for many years and was senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House.