What could the candidates' tax plans mean for you?

March 25, 2016

How could the presidential candidates' tax plans affect you? Tax Policy Center and Vox partnered to create a calculator that shows how much your federal tax liability could change under each plan.

Here's an example that illustrates what a single filer with one child and making $40,000 a year would pay, according to the plans and proposals laid out by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders.

Tax Policy Center and Vox tax calculator

Find out what the candidates' tax plans could mean for you.


In the news: The truth about trade and job losses

March 18, 2016

Most of the current presidential candidates have been making sweeping negative statements about US agreements for freer trade. Both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders have made this opposition a main talking point. While Trump talks about “losing to every country” that has out-bargained us, Sanders prides himself on having voting against every “disastrous” free trade agreement because they lead to American job loss and declining earnings.

The reality of trade is much more complex. While trade does contribute to job loss and lower earnings, its effect is much smaller than many believe. And those negatives are offset by clear gains, both for the United States and other countries. A real debate on trade should look at winners and losers and compare the effects of trade for each.

Read the rest in Washington Monthly.


Trump and Clinton plans for veterans leave out affordable housing

March 3, 2016

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have both released plans to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to help veterans and their families. Both plans call for better access to health care, especially for treating posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Our recent study on veterans at risk of homelessness highlights the importance of these issues. But both plans are vague in details and, more important, both plans leave out a big issue that especially affects recent veterans: affordable housing and homelessness prevention.

As I have written before, almost 1.5 million veteran households spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent. That’s too much of their monthly budget, leaving them at serious risk for eviction and homelessness.

Compared with veterans from earlier conflicts and wars, the problem is worse for veterans who served after September 11, 2001. And the problem is pervasive: 87 percent of extremely low-income veterans in this cohort pay too much for rent. It’s worth noting that about 70 percent of veterans who served in earlier conflicts are also severely rent burdened.

Many veterans are rent burdened
Note: "Extremely low income" is 0-30 percent of Area Median Income (AMI); very low income: 31-50 percent of AMI; low income: 51-80 percent of AMI. So, for example, in Maricopa County, Arizona, AMI is $64,000.Extremely low-income at 30 percent of AMI would be $19,200 per year.

The Obama administration has made significant progress in reducing homelessness among veterans. Both candidates should be thinking about how to finish the job of ending veteran homelessness, and how to prevent veterans from becoming homeless in the future. To do so, they need plans that increase veterans’ access to affordable housing.

A promising solution is to create a housing voucher program for veterans that links housing subsidies with employment assistance. Such a program could go a long way in making sure we are honoring our obligation to those who served our country.



From TaxVox: Trump would slash taxes for the top 0.1 percent by an average of $1.3 million, add nearly $10 trillion to the debt


December 22, 2015

Donald Trump’s tax plan would add $9.5 trillion to the national debt from 2016 to 2026 and another $15 trillion in the following decade (before added interest), according to a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center. Nearly all households would get a tax cut under the plan, averaging about $5,100 in 2017. However, the benefits would be overwhelmingly skewed to the highest-income taxpayers, with those in the top 0.1 percent (who make $3.7 million or more) getting an average tax cut of more than $1.3 million.

Trump has said he’d pay higher taxes under this plan. Because the GOP presidential hopeful has not released his income tax returns, we don’t know how the proposal would affect him personally. However, it would boost after-tax incomes for those in his income class by nearly 20 percent.

By contrast, the lowest-income households would receive a tax cut of about $130, about one percent of their after-tax income, and middle income households would get an average tax cut of $2,700, or about five percent of their after-tax income. Overall, one-third of the benefits of Trump’s tax cuts would go to those in the top 1 percent (who make $737,000 or more), according to TPC.

Trump taxes

Read the rest on TaxVox.


What the data really say about race and homicide


November 24, 2015

On Sunday, Donald Trump tweeted out an image of 2015 homicide statistics from the "Crime Statistics Bureau" of San Francisco that purported to show that the majority of black homicides were committed by other black Americans. Black-on-black homicides were shown to be 97 percent of all black homicides, while white-on-white homicides were a mere 16 percent of all white homicides.

If that difference sounds too incredible to believe, that’s because it is.

These statistics have already been roundly and rightly taken apart. The Crime Statistics Bureau doesn’t exist, and we don’t have public homicide statistics by race for either San Francisco or the nation for 2015. This isn’t a controversial scholarly question of how you slice the data or whether one arcane statistical test or another is the right tool: the data simply don’t exist.

Trump’s numbers are wrong. But what is most revealing is how the numbers are wrong.

The most glaring error isn’t the black-on-black homicide statistic, which in 2014 (the last year for which we actually have national data) was 90 percent of black homicides. The most glaring error is the white-on-white homicide statistic. In 2014, 82 percent of white homicides were committed by other white people. That means that while black-on-black homicide is overstated by 7 percentage points, white-on-white homicide is understated by a whopping 66 percentage points.

The myth of extreme black criminality looms large in American discussions of crime, supported by misrepresentations like these. This myth persists despite recent research demonstrating that racial differences in criminal offending are limited, particularly for serious, juvenile offenders, who often feature conspicuously in discussions of violent crime and homicide. When socioeconomic differences are controlled for, the case for black hypercriminality gets even weaker.

Despite the research, violence in black communities is frequently brought up to derail policy conversations about the justice system and its effect on black communities. In fact, this routine is so common that we saw it at the exact same time last year. When asked about police violence in black communities, Rudy Giuliani noted that 93 percent of blacks are killed by other blacks. This time, white-on-white violence was not misreported but simply left unsaid, once again with the implication that black Americans are uniquely violent.

Both Trump and Giuliani’s remarks draw on the myth of black hypercriminality to short-circuit policy conversations. Trump’s tweet came on the heels of a confrontation with a Black Lives Matter protester at one of his rallies, while Giuliani employed the trope to defend existing police tactics that were being sharply criticized. In both cases, high levels of black-on-black homicide were cited as if they were unique to black communities, when in fact, most violence tends to occur between people of the same race.

Trump’s numbers are dead wrong. However, the fiction of black hypercriminality they support is even more grossly inaccurate.