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Understanding the Rates, Causes, and Costs of Churning in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (Testimony)
Gregory B. Mills

In this testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Nutrition, Greg Mills presents research findings on participant churning in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) including the rates, causes and costs of participant churn in SNAP, which occurs when households receiving SNAP exit the program and then re-enter within several months. Findings include that churn rates across the six states that were studied range from 17 to 28 percent for FY 2011 and that the causes of churn are due primarily to procedural difficulties experienced by participants rather than fluctuations in the earnings of SNAP recipients.

Publication Date: February 26, 2015

What Every Worker Needs to Know About an Unreformed Social Security System (Testimony)
C. Eugene Steuerle

In this testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security, Eugene Steuerle, Institute Fellow and Richard B. Fisher Chair at the Urban Institute discusses the fairness, efficiency and adequacy questions that arise almost no matter how much growth Congress maintains in Social Security. In particular he addresses three troubling aspects of an otherwise successful program: unequal justice; middle age retirement; and impact on the young.

Publication Date: July 29, 2014

Abuse of Structured Financial Products: Misusing Basket Options to Avoid Taxes and Leverage Limits (Testimony)
Steven Rosenthal

In this testimony before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Steve Rosenthal describes how two hedge funds, with the help of two investment banks, purported to convert short-term trading profits into long-term capital gains with derivatives—which lowered the tax rate on their gains from 35% to 15% (the difference in rates for short-term and long-term gains for most of the years in question). He explains why he believes the funds stretched the tax law to achieve their goal. He also recommends legislation to address the misuse of derivatives more comprehensively.

Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Lessons from the States: Responsible Prison Reform (Testimony)
Nancy G. La Vigne

In this testimony before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, Urban's Director of the Justice Policy Center, Nancy La Vigne, highlights the lessons learned from responsible prison reform in the states and discusses the federal prison system, its challenges and opportunities for reform. She also discusses the importance of both front- and back-end changes to yield meaningful and lasting reforms.

Publication Date: July 15, 2014

Tax Issues Facing Small Business (Testimony)
Donald Marron

In testimony before the House Small Business Committee, Donald Marron examines how tax policy affects small business. Complying with the tax code places a disproportionate burden on small businesses. On the other hand, small businesses are more likely to underpay their taxes, sometimes inadvertently, sometimes not. Tax reform could shift the relative tax burden of small and large businesses and recalibrate the balance between pass-through and C corporation structures. The effect will depend on the details and may vary among businesses of different sizes, industries, and organizational forms. Reform also provides an opportunity to reduce compliance burdens on small businesses.

Publication Date: April 09, 2014

Policies to Support the Middle Class (Testimony)
Leonard E. Burman

In this testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Len Burman outlines some of the challenges facing the middle class in 2014 and explores policy options that might help better equip them to meet those challenges, including improving access to higher education and job training and consolidating and targeting education tax subsidies; slowing the growth of spending on health care; eliminating the carried interest loophole; encouraging saving by offering automatic contributions to 401(k)-like accounts for low- and moderate-income households; and replacing automatic price indexing with annual indexation adjustments designed to partially counterbalance changes in the distribution of income on a revenue-neutral basis.

Publication Date: March 13, 2014

Addressing the "Benefits Cliff" and Encouraging Work for Welfare Recipients (Testimony)
Heather Hahn

In this testimony before the State of Vermont House Committee on Human Resources, Heather Hahn discusses proposed changes to Vermont's TANF program, and more generally, the "benefits cliff" and work incentives that participants experience as they strive for self-sufficiency. Hahn explains how the key policy levers - asset tests and the earned income disregards - affect the benefits cliff and work incentives. She also places Vermont's Reach Up rules in the context of other states' TANF rules and discusses other important issues to consider in conjunction with changes in these rules.

Publication Date: February 26, 2014

The Future of Long-Term Care Policy: Continuing the Conversation (Testimony)
Judy Feder

In testimony before the US Senate Special Committee on Aging Feder speaks about a path forward for long-term services and supports. She establishes that there is much work to be done. Although policymakers are grappling with the challenges of assuring Americans affordable access to quality health care, they have yet to seriously tackle the equally important issue of long-term services and supports.

Publication Date: December 18, 2013

Housing Finance Reform: Fundamentals of Transferring Credit Risk in a Future Housing Finance System (Testimony)
Laurie Goodman

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both recently completed deals in which they transferred some of the risk from their guarantor book of business to private investors. As we contemplate a new housing finance system in which private entities take the first loss, backed up by a catastrophic government guarantee, the obvious question arises: how are these deals applicable to the new housing finance structure? While lessons can be learned from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac deals, there are additional considerations in an environment without government-sponsored enterprises.

Publication Date: December 10, 2013

Testimony Before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform U.S. House of Representatives (Testimony)
Judy Feder

In this testimony before the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) impact on premiums and provider networks, Feder concludes that by filling the gaps in the current financing structure and slowing the growth in health care costs, the ACA has enormous potential to address the flaws in the country's health care system. The biggest barrier Feder sees to realizing the law’s potential is the political resistance to the law’s implementation.

Publication Date: December 12, 2013

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