Research Roundup: Flip It To Fix It, Regulation Saves Lives and Much More

In this week’s PSN Research Roundup:

Reports by the Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative on a fairer and more responsive proposal for addressing state budget shortfalls, the Economic Policy Institute on how government workplace regulations have saved lives, the Commonwealth Fund on how the Affordable Care Act helps young adults stay covered, the Department of Health and Human Services on the perils faced by families who lack health insurance, and Citizens for Tax Justice on the extremely negative effective tax rate paid on $171 billion in corporate profits by 12 companies receiving $62 billion in subsidies.

Flip It to Fix It: An Immediate, Fair Solution to State Budget Shortfalls - As conservatives propose balancing budgets on the backs of the middle class, this new study, by the Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative at United for a Fair Economy, explores a fairer and more responsive proposal for addressing state budget shortfalls: inverting each state’s tax structure, or, as the summary describes, “taking each state’s current distribution of state and local taxes and flipping it, with a pivot point at dead center (the 50th percentile).” Under such a tax structure, the wealthiest 20 percent would pay the share of state and local taxes currently imposed on the least wealthy 20 percent, and vice-versa.

Government regulations save lives on the job - In this brief, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) finds that since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, every industry has experienced substantially less on the job fatalities. EPI notes, “Since the 1980s,on-the-job fatalitieshave fallen by more than 30%, to 4,340 in 2009, or 11.9 deaths per day (with a workforce almost twice as large as in 1970).  While still far too many deaths, the improvement is a remarkable achievement that saves thousands of families from tragedy, grief, and financial loss.”

How the Affordable Care Act Is Helping Young Adults Stay Covered - This report recently issued by the Commonwealth Fund, finds that before reform was enacted, young adults were one of the demographic groups most likely to be uninsured. According to 2009 census data, 15 million of them lacked coverage. In addition, the report notes that “45 percent of young adults reported delaying needed care because of costs in 2010, up from 32 percent in 2001, and 39 percent reported problems paying medical bills,” a trend will hopefully be reversed by the provision of the Affordable Care Act allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s plans until age 26.

The Value of Health Insurance: Few of the Uninsured Have Adequate Resources to Pay Potential Hospital Bills - The Department of Health and Human Services recently released this analysis of the number of families who lack health insurance that have the financial ability to pay hospital bills. It found that the median assets for middle-income families earning four times the poverty level, or $89,000 a year for a family of four, were below $4,100, and that the cost of an in-patient hospital stay typically exceeds $10,000 and can often exceed $100,000. Among the report’s conclusions were that “lacking health insurance poses a greater risk of financial catastrophe than lacking car insurance or homeowner’s insurance.”

Analysis: 12 Corporations Pay Effective Tax Rate of Negative 1.5% on $171 Billion in Profits; Reap $62.4 Billion in Tax Subsidies - In this analysis, Citizens for Tax Justice reviews the pretax U.S. profits, federal taxes paid and effective tax rates of 12 companies, American Electric Power, Boeing, Dupont, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, General Electric, HoneywellInternational, IBM, United Technologies, Verizon Communications, Wells Fargo and Yahoo, and finds incidence of extreme corporate tax avoidance. CTJ reports: “From 2008 through 2010, these 12 companies reported $171 billion in pretax U.S. profits. But as a group, their federal income taxes were negative: –$2.5 billion; All but two of the dozen companies enjoyed at least one no-tax year over the 2008-10 period,despite reporting substantial pretax U.S. profits in those no-tax years; Eight of the twelve companies reported net tax benefits over the full three-year period.”