Hundreds of thousands of federal government workers were recently on furlough due to a partial lapse in appropriations. Furloughed employees are barred from working and are not paid, but recent legislation guarantees that they will receive back pay “on the earliest date possible after the lapse ends.” The ambiguous status of federal workers on furlough--employed, but not working--will be reflected in next Friday’s jobs report. Furloughed federal workers will be counted as both employed and unemployed in January.
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.
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.”
- The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) plans to shift airwaves from TV broadcast to wireless use to respond to shifts in airwave demand.
- In 2016, the FCC held a two-phase auction. In the first phase, TV broadcasters determined the lowest acceptable selling price. In the second phase, wireless data companies determined the highest acceptable purchase price. Taxpayers kept the difference which can be used to cover the cost of license reassignment.
- However, simulations show that the FCC’s auction rules don’t maximize taxpayer value. When one company owns multiple TV broadcast licenses, it’s possible for that company to increase the selling price by limiting the supply of licenses available on the auction. Therefore, companies with multiple licenses can shift wealth from taxpayers to themselves.