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Social Security Reform: Testimony of Peter R. Orszag before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance (Testimony)
Peter Orszag

In his testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance, Peter Orszag argued that individual accounts can and should be strengthened on top of Social Security, where they belong. Orszag also examined other proposals for Social Security solvency. [ Brookings Institution]

Posted to Web: April 26, 2005Publication Date: April 26, 2005

Saving Social Security: The Diamond-Orszag Plan (Article)
Peter A. Diamond, Peter Orszag

Social Security is one of America’s most successful government programs. It has helped millions of Americans avoid poverty in old age. To be sure, the program faces a long-term deficit and is in need of updating. But Social Security’s long-term financial health can be restored: the projected deficit is small enough that it can be eliminated through a progressive reform that combines modest benefit reductions and revenue increases. [ Brookings Institution]

Posted to Web: April 13, 2005Publication Date: April 13, 2005

The Automatic 401(k): A Simple Way To Strengthen Retirement Saving (Article/Tax Break)
William G. Gale, J. Mark Iwry, Peter Orszag

The "automatic 401(k)" is a simple concept with enormous potential. An automatic 401(k) plan would have intelligent defaults at each phase of the 401(k) savings cycle: participation, contribution levels, investment allocations, rollovers, and withdrawal options. Workers would be free to opt out of these defaults if they chose to. For example, under an automatic 401(k) workers would participate unless they actively choose not to. For workers, the automatic 401(k) helps ensure that they make appropriate financial choices even if they are not financial experts. For plan sponsors, the automatic 401(k) improves nondiscrimination results by increasing lower paid employees to participate and offers a possible way to provide fiduciary and non discrimination safe harbors. The steps involved in building an automatic 401(k) are not complicated, and the benefits could be substantial; indeed, a growing body of empirical evidence suggests that the automatic 401(k) may be the most promising approach to bolstering retirement security for millions of American families.

Posted to Web: March 07, 2005Publication Date: March 07, 2005

The Saver's Credit: Expanding Retirement Savings for Middle- and Lower-Income America (Occasional Paper)
William G. Gale, J. Mark Iwry, Peter Orszag

The Saver's Credit, enacted in 2001, provides a government matching contribution, in the form of a nonrefundable tax credit, for voluntary individual contributions to 401(k)-type plans, IRAs, and similar retirement savings arrangements. This paper provides background on the evolution and design of the Saver's Credit, discusses the rationale behind the Saver's Credit and the role of such a credit in the retirement income security system as a whole, examines empirical data and models of the revenue and distributional effects of the Saver's Credit, and discusses measures that would expand the scope and improve the efficacy of the Saver's Credit.

Posted to Web: March 01, 2005Publication Date: March 01, 2005

The Outlook for Fiscal Policy (Article/Tax Break)
William G. Gale, Peter Orszag

The new budget projections released by the Congressional Budget Office (2005) provide an opportunity to assess fiscal policy in the first four years of the Bush administration and to discuss prospects for the next four years and beyond. This report examines the baseline CBO projections, adjusts the official data in ways that more accurately reflect the current trajectory of tax and spending policies, and discusses some of the implications.

Posted to Web: February 14, 2005Publication Date: February 14, 2005

Individual Income Tax Refunds (Article/Tax Facts)
Peter Orszag

Income tax refunds have recently grown markedly. This Tax Fact documents the growth and current magnitude of income tax refunds.

Posted to Web: January 31, 2005Publication Date: January 31, 2005

Should the Budget Exclude the Cost of Individual Accounts? (Article/Tax Break)
William G. Gale, Jason Furman, Peter Orszag

Proposals to replace part of Social Security with individual accounts are now a focus of attention, with the President expressing a strong desire to push forward on creating individual accounts within Social Security. This paper considers the appropriate budgetary treatment of proposals to create such accounts. The paper concludes that borrowing to finance such accounts should count as part of the unified deficit and that the transfer of funds into such accounts should count as outlays.

Posted to Web: January 24, 2005Publication Date: January 24, 2005

Exempting Dividends, Interest, and Capital Gains From Taxation (Article/Tax Facts)
Peter Orszag

This article uses the TPC tax model to examine the direct effect of exempting all dividends, interest, and capital gains from income taxation.

Posted to Web: December 06, 2004Publication Date: December 06, 2004

Bush Administration Tax Policy: Summary and Outlook (Article/Tax Break)
Peter Orszag, William G. Gale

This is the eighth and final installment in a series that evaluates tax policy in the Bush Administration, covering the years 2001 to 2004. The paper summarizes our principal findings, and discusses some of the key tax and fiscal issues facing the Administration in its second term.

Posted to Web: November 29, 2004Publication Date: November 29, 2004

Bush Administration Tax Policy: Starving the Beast (Article/Tax Break)
William G. Gale, Peter Orszag

This paper examines links between the Bush Administration's tax cuts and the goal of "starving the beast"--that is, holding down government spending. It is at best unclear whether tax cuts are effective in restraining spending. The data appear more consistent with the view that once fiscal discipline erodes on one side of the budget, it tends to erode on the other side, too. Moreover, aiming to reduce spending does not justify regressive tax cuts, since most spending cuts would be regressive. Even if "starving the beast" justified the original 2001 tax cuts, the strategy does not justify making the tax cuts permanent because the government will face future budget deficits even without extending the tax cuts.

Posted to Web: November 15, 2004Publication Date: November 15, 2004

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