November 4, 2018

BETTER HURRY TO THE MEMORY HOLE:

Kamala Harris's Big Policy Idea Is Even Worse Than I Thought (JORDAN WEISSMANN, NOV 04, 2018, Slate)

This bill would put a lot of money into the hands of working families, and lift millions out of poverty. So what's wrong with it? Last month, I noted three issues: First, it's extremely similar to a program that already exists--the Earned Income Tax Credit--and it's not clear why you'd want to add even more complexity to our hard-to-navigate welfare state by creating a totally new benefit rather than modernize and expand the one that already exists. Second, because only workers (and some college students) receive the bill's benefits, it offers nothing to the absolute poorest Americans--those who don't have jobs. At the same time, it give zilch to families who make more than $100,000. And whether or not you think those households--which make up about 29 percent of the country--need any help, that fact alone will probably undercut its political support.

Which is a problem, since a program this expensive would be an enormous political lift. Harris's office did not score the bill before circulating it (which seemed like a bit of a gamble). But since then, the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Wharton Budget Model has concluded it would cost $3.1 trillion over a decade. The conservative Tax Foundation estimates it would be slightly cheaper: $2.8 trillion. Either way, you're talking about a big, fat chunk of federal change. If one were to total up all of the money that Washington is expected to spend on Obamacare's private insurance subsidies, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Social Security Disability Insurance program over the next ten years, that only gets you to $2.7 trillion.

As a couple of anti-poverty experts pointed out to me, the LIFT Act also contains a fairly serious design flaw. As it's currently written, the bill creates a serious financial penalty for getting married.

Posted by at November 4, 2018 5:40 PM

  

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