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When Debt Rises, the Treasury Rebalances to Long-Term Securities

To finance government spending above tax revenues, the federal government issues debt. According to USAFacts, in 2015 the federal government paid more than $220 billion in interest on this debt. Moreover, interest on the federal debt is growing larger, and it is becoming an increasingly important part of PWBM’s long-term budget projections. To make more accurate projections of interest paid on the federal debt, PWBM will begin projecting the maturity structure of federal debt.

Penn Wharton Budget Model's Social Security Simulator

Penn Wharton Budget Model's Social Security Simulator

Click Here for Interactive Simulation

  • Penn Wharton Budget Model’s updated Social Security Simulator allows users to build Social Security reform plans to see the budgetary and economic impact of those plans.

  • Users can try up to 648 different policy combinations.

  • The model can handle a much wider range of Social Security policy options, which are not shown to conserve space. Policymakers, major media outlets and thought leaders who want to test different Social Security reforms can contact us for estimates.

Social Security’s Worsening Financial Condition

Social Security’s Worsening Financial Condition
  • Since the major Social Security reforms were passed in 1983, Social Security Trustees have slowly reduced their projected Social Security trust fund exhaustion date from at least 2058 to 2034. Yet, Trustees’ estimates still don’t incorporate key future macroeconomic variables, including the nation’s growing debt.

  • Using a model that incorporates future macro-economic forces, PWBM projects that the Social Security trust fund depletes in 2032. More importantly, we project much larger future annual cash-flow shortfalls. Relative to the payroll tax base, we project a cash-flow shortfall in 2032 that is 36 percent larger than the Trustees’ estimate for that year. By 2048, our projected cash-flow shortfall is 77 percent larger.

  • If Social Security shortfalls continue to contribute to the federal government’s unified deficits, consistent with no changes in taxes or benefits, we project that the federal debt-to-GDP ratio will exceed 200 percent by 2048, a path that is not sustainable.

Can Governments Use Blockchain?

Kevin Werbach, professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at Wharton and founder of Supernova Group, spoke at Penn Wharton Budget Model’s Spring Policy Forum. He discussed the uses and risks of blockchain, a technology he argues is the “most overhyped technology of our time” as well as “the most significant fundamental advance in digital platform since the Internet.”

86% of Gains Indexing Capital Gains Goes to Top 1%

Alan Rappeport and Jim Tankersley of The New York Times cite Penn Wharton Budget Model’s forecast of the fiscal and social effects of adjusting capital gain taxes for inflation in their piece, Trump Administration Mulls a Unilateral Tax Cut for the Rich.

Cost of Tax Reform Meets PWBM’s Expectations

Earlier this month, the Treasury Department reported that federal tax receipts fell seven percent from June 2017 to June 2018, largely due to a 34 percent decline in corporate income tax receipts. While significant revenue loss is expected in 2018 following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) last December, the size of the recent decline raised concerns that the legislation may be costing more than anticipated.

Strong 2018 Q2 Economic Growth Unsustainable

Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell uses Penn Wharton Budget Model’s analysis of tax reform to delve into the implications behind strong second quarter U.S. economic growth in The economy’s great. That doesn’t mean Trumponomics is.

Public Infrastructure: Avoiding the Bridge to Nowhere

This June, PWBM’s First Spring Policy Forum discussed what real world evidence has to say about public infrastructure policy. PWBM’s Jon Huntley looked at how infrastructure plans can be designed to maximize growth while Ernst & Young’s Mike Parker shared a broad picture of the impact of federal spending on infrastructure.

TCJA Projected to Lower 2018 Charity Giving by $22 Billion

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) overhauled many elements of the US federal tax code, some of which will serve to reduce the tax incentive to make charitable contributions.

Consumers Getting Hit at the Pump

In Small Towns Are Booming, Thanks to Rising Oil Prices, The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Elliot and Harriet Torry cite PWBM research on the recent rise in gas prices.

Steve Ballmer Talks USAFacts with Andy Serwer at PWBM’s First Spring Policy Forum

Yahoo Finance Video shows Andy Serwer’s interview with Steve Ballmer from the Penn Wharton Budget Model’s June 22nd Spring Policy Forum. Steve Ballmer, co-founder of USA Facts, owner of the LA Clippers former CEO of Microsoft, spoke on the potential of USAFacts to promote fact-based public policymaking.

New Tax Law Set to Trigger Conversions From Pass-Through Entities to C-Corporations

Politico’s Ben White and Aubree Eliza Weaver write about the Penn Wharton Budget Model’s projection of business entity classification conversions in the aftermath of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in Morning Money: The Big Switch from Pass-Throughs.

Projecting the Mass Conversion from Pass-Through Entities to C-Corporations

Projecting the Mass Conversion from Pass-Through Entities to C-Corporations
  • We project that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will cause 235,780 U.S. business owners---77 percent of whom have incomes of at least $500,000---to switch from pass-through entity owners to C-corporations, primarily to take advantage of sheltering their income from tax by converting to C-corporations.

  • The biggest switchers include doctors, lawyers and investors, especially if owners can afford to defer receipt of business income to a later year. Other business owners, who are qualified to use the 20 percent deduction for pass-through business income, including painters, plumbers, and printers, are more likely to remain as pass-through entities.

  • We project that about 17.5 percent of all pass-through Ordinary Business Income will switch to C-corporations.

Recent Rise in Gas Prices Offsets Some Households’ Gains from Tax Cuts

As noted in our brief, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the direct tax liability of individuals by an estimated $1.3 billion, before considering macroeconomic feedback effects, over the period 2018-27. This reduction was achieved through a number of provisions that changed the individual income tax structure. Table 1 presents the average tax cut received by Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) percentile in 2018. The overall median tax cut is $401, with larger cuts going to groups with larger AGI.

Capitol Hill Push to Change Taxes on Capital Gains

Naomi Jagoda relies on the Penn Wharton Budget Model’s analysis of the push on Capitol Hill to change tax law to adjust capital gains for inflation in Senate Dems to Mnuchin: Don't index capital gains to inflation.

The Jobs and Infrastructure Plan for America’s Workers

The Jobs and Infrastructure Plan for America’s Workers
  • Senate Democrats propose spending $1,022 billion on public infrastructure over the next 10 years, financed with taxes on personal income and corporate income.

  • An additional dollar of federal aid could lead state and local governments to increase total infrastructure spending by less than that dollar since state and local governments can often qualify for the new grant money within their existing and planned infrastructure programs. Based on an extensive literature review, we estimate that infrastructure investment across all levels of government increases between $225 billion and $1,039 billion, including the $1,022 billion federal investment.

  • Depending on how much state and local governments spend on infrastructure in response to federal aid, we estimate that the plan changes GDP between -0.1 and 0.1 percent by 2032 relative to no policy change. By 2042, the plan changes GDP between -0.3 and -0.2 percent.

Senator Ted Cruz’s Proposal to Index Capital Gains to Inflation

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently introduced a bill titled the “Capital Gains Inflation Relief Act of 2018”. The proposal would let investors adjust asset cost basis for inflation, resulting in a lower tax bill upon realizing capital gains.

Why Are Recent Immigrants Better-Educated Than Ever Before?

In a previous blog post, I described two significant changes in the characteristics of newly arriving immigrants (legal and unauthorized) to the U.S. between 1997 and 2017. First, the share of recent immigrants aged 25 and older who had bachelor’s or advanced degrees rose from 30 percent to 48 percent. Second, the origins of new immigrants to the U.S. shifted dramatically, as immigration from Mexico and Europe declined in importance while immigration from Asia and Africa grew. In this post, I examine the relationship between these two changes.

Senate GOP Wary of New Tax Cut Sequel

In his article “Senate GOP wary of new tax cut sequel,” Alexander Bolton described Republican reactions to the CBO scoring of the new tax bill and opinions over making the individual tax cuts permanent. He cites projections from Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) in order to demonstrate the likely effects on the national debt from extending the individual tax cuts.

W2018-3 How Initial Conditions Can Have Permanent Effects: The Case of the Affordable Care Act