Congress is starting to take notice of the fact that more than 1.3 million people will lose their jobless benefits on Dec. 28 unless lawmakers renew an emergency aid program for the unemployed that's set to expire this year.
House Democrats said on Thursday that they won't support a budget deal unless it includes a one-year extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which would cost roughly $25.1 billion. In response, Republican Speaker John Boehner said he would "entertain" the idea of an extension but wants to see a specific proposal from the White House first.
As a reporter who has covered the Affordable Care Act, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to uninsured Americans. Aside from the daily federal updates and traffic statistics, it’s been one of the more helpful ways to understand how the health-care law is working — and what its rocky rollout will mean.
Our friends at the Monkey Cage are starting to forecast the 2014 House election and the conclusion, basically, is that there's not going to be a wave in 2014. There won't be one for Democrats, certainly. But there probably won't be one for Republicans, either. The baseline forecast right now is that Democrats lose five seats in the House.
While the rhetoric in President Obama's big inequality speech Wednesday was characteristically soaring, the policy proposals were largely rehashes of past administration initiatives. What's more, a surprising number of them had little to do with tax or transfer programs. Things like increasing exports, reducing certain regulations, boosting spending on scientific research and other investments, and raising the minimum wage are intended to reduce inequality before taxes or transfer programs like Social Security and the Earned Income Tax Credit come into the picture.
Perhaps the most interesting paper here is economist Jared Bernstein's exploration (pdf) of whether rising income inequality in the United States is bad for economic growth. His conclusion: There are compelling reasons to believe that inequality can harm growth, but it's surprisingly difficult to prove this is happening.