urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

Fiscal Cliff Toolkit

Data, analyses, and commentaries on the fiscal cliff debate in one easy-to-access place.

Five-Questions

Five Questions with Rich Johnson: Social Security and the Fiscal Cliff

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1. Why are some people calling for changes to Social Security to get us past the fiscal cliff? Isn’t it separate from the rest of the federal budget?
2. Is it fair to use Social Security payroll taxes earmarked for retirement benefits to help reduce the government’s debt?
3. How does the payroll tax holiday figure into the debate?
4. What changes to Social Security are being discussed?
5. What’s the longer-term prognosis?

Five Questions with Donald Marron: Taxes and the Fiscal Cliff

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1. Can paring down tax deductions both raise enough revenue to reach a fiscal cliff deal and streamline the tax code?
2. What are the economic effects of reducing or eliminating deductions on things like mortgage interest and charitable contributions?
3. If Congress and the president agree on one of the proposals on the table, would only high-income earners face a tax increase?
4. What about the expiration of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) patch? Will that affect only high-income earners?
5. Many economists have said that the fiscal cliff is more of a slope than a steep drop and going over would not severely harm the economy immediately. What would happen in January, and what are the longer-run implications of going over?

Five Questions with the Health Policy Center Researchers: Medicare, Medicaid, and the Fiscal Cliff

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1. Is Medicare and Medicaid spending out of control?
2. To bring spending under control, does Medicare need to be based on defined contributions, instead of defined benefits?
3. How could we rein in Medicare spending, while retaining the program’s current structure?
4. What are the options for reining in Medicaid spending?
5. Can we view Medicare and Medicaid spending in isolation, or does it need to be considered in the context of the overall health care system?

 

 

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