In the News

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3 Questions: Michael Greenstone on the experimental method in environmental economics

MIT News • April 17, 2014 • Peter Dizikes

Advisory Council member and former Hamilton Project director Michael Greenstone discusses experimental method in environmental economics with MIT news. 

A Better Way to Run Rating Agencies

The Wall Street Journal • April 17, 2014 • Alan S. Blinder

In a new piece in The Wall Street Journal, Advisory Council member Alan S. Blinder discusses a better way to run credit card rating industries.

Do you remember the financial crisis of 2007-09? (I imagine so.) Do you remember that one of its chief causes was a mountain of egregiously high credit ratings assigned by the rating agencies? (Maybe not.) Do you remember that Congress, in debating the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, considered a number of ways to fix, or at least ameliorate, the credit-rating problem? (You don't, do you?) Finally, was the problem ever solved? (Don't guess: The answer is no.)

How the tax code penalizes people for getting married

The Washington Post • April 16, 2014 • Catherine Rampell

Catherine Rampell takes a closer look at how the current tax system creates "marriage penalties," and impacts working and low-income families. 

Several months ago the Hamilton Project at Brookings released an in-depth report that estimated how large those disincentives are. The report, by Melissa S. Kearney and Lesley J. Turner, found that once you account for higher tax rates, lost means-tested benefits (like food stamps), and additional child-care costs, secondary earners typically take home less than half of what they “earn.”

Obama, Biden pitch job training: Do reforms go far enough?

Christian Science Monitor • April 16, 2014 • Mark Trumbull

The Christian Science Monitor cites findings from a Hamilton Project paper in a discussion on spending for job training. 

Federal money for job training has been falling. Training funds went up for a time as unemployment surged following the 2008 financial crisis, a 2011 report from the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution noted. In general, though, “spending on training has fallen from a high in the early 1980s,” the report said. Since then, a squeeze on federal discretionary spending has made training budgets tighter.

Congress could make tax filing easier

Houston Chronicle • April 15, 2014

The Houston Chronicle explores ways the IRS could make filing taxes easier, citing a Hamilton Project paper by Austan Goolsbee on "Simple Return."

According to a 2006 study by Brookings Institution economist Austan Goolsbee, which was recently discussed by Vox Media, most taxpayers receive their income from a single employer and only take the standard deduction. This wage and withholding information is already known by the IRS, and there is no reason why the IRS couldn't fill in the blanks and connect the dots for people who do not want to spend time doing it themselves.

L.A. Spends 30% More on Wall Street Fees than Streets, and That’s Just Half the Story

All Gov • April 15, 2014

All Gov reports that Los Angeles spends more on Wall Street fees than on the budget for its Bureau of Street Services, and cites Hamilton Project paper "Lowering Borrowing costs for States and Muncipalities Through CommonMuni."

While the city readily provides a budget figure for what it spends on municipal functions like street maintenance and improvement, it is not so forthcoming on Wall Street fees. That is no surprise. “Municipal markets are characterized by poor information and illiquidity,” according to a study (pdf) published by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution.

Report: Broadcast Evening News Ignores Relationship Between Tax Rates And Economic Inequality

Media Matters for America • April 15, 2014 • Craig Harrington

A report on the impact of tax rates on economic inequality cites a Hamilton Project economic analysis, "Just How Progressive Is the U.S. Tax Code?"

According to a blog post by Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney of the Brookings Institution, federal tax rates for higher earners have declined at the same time that income inequality has widened.

You are the IRS’s worst-paid employee

Vox • April 15, 2014 • Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein from Vox features economist Austan Goolsbee, and cites his Hamilton Project paper, as he discusses a simpler option for filing taxes.

In a paper for the Hamilton Project, Goolsbee estimates that a national system along these lines could save taxpayers about 225 million hours and $2 billion in tax preparation fees every single year.

How America Pays Taxes - in 10 Not-Entirely-Depressing Charts

The Atlantic • April 15, 2014 • Derek Thompson

The Atlantic highlights important facts on the U.S. tax system, including a chart from The Hamilton Project which asks, "Who Pays Taxes?"

While it's true that about 50 percent of families don't pay a positive federal income tax, remember than an equal share of federal government revenue comes from payroll taxes. Practically all earners in their prime-working years pay a total federal tax, as this Hamilton Project graph shows.

Why Do Tax Laws Still Punish 2-Income Families?

Money Talk News • April 14, 2014 • Krystal Steinmetz

When it comes to paying taxes, two-income married couples can be at a disadvantaged, reports Money Talk News, citing Hamilton Project director Melissa Kearney on how the current tax system affects working families.

Melissa Kearney, director of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, told NPR that the tax system was not designed to penalize working spouses, but it can, and it does.

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