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  • Commentary posted February 12, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Puerto Rico Can Move Forward Without Congress

    Congress and the president have proposed various federal interventions and bailouts to save the cash-strapped and economically troubled commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Congress last month claiming that "only Congress can enact the legislative measures necessary to fully resolve this problem." Yet the island is working within its…

  • Issue Brief posted December 10, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Misguided Plan for Puerto Rico Would Set Dangerous Precedent

    Puerto Rico faces an imminent financial crisis caused by decades of economically harmful policies, prolific government spending, and broken—if not corrupt—governance. Claiming that this U.S. territory has no options on its own, the President and some Members of Congress have called for a bailout of Puerto Rico, including access to retroactive bankruptcy and other federal…

  • Issue Brief posted December 10, 2015 by Rachel Greszler The Multiemployer Pension Reform Act: Inadequate Response to Looming Pension Fund Insolvency

    According to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation’s (PBGC’s) own 2015 annual report, the government entity tasked with insuring private-sector pensions faces a $76.3 billion shortfall.[1] In other words, the backstop that Congress created to prevent workers from losing their promised pensions could be worthless. Without further, significant reforms, the PBGC’s…

  • Issue Brief posted November 24, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Time to Cut Out the SSA as Middleman in SSDI Representation

    Unlike traditional attorney-client relationships in which the client pays the attorney at the conclusion of a case, attorneys who represent Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants receive payment directly from the Social Security Administration (SSA), even though it is not the SSA’s money. SSDI claimants enter into private contracts with representatives to…

  • Issue Brief posted October 28, 2015 by Paul Winfree, Romina Boccia, Justin T. Johnson, Daren Bakst, Nicolas Loris, James L. Gattuso, Jason Snead, Rachel Greszler, Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., David R. Burton, Curtis S. Dubay Analysis of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015

    The federal budget is on a dangerous trajectory and immediate corrective action is required. The U.S. national debt is at $18.1 trillion. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), if the government remains on its currently planned course, it will spend $7 trillion more over the next 10 years than it will receive in taxes, piling on even more debt. Heritage…

  • Backgrounder posted October 23, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Improving Social Security Disability Insurance with a Flat Benefit

    Social Security’s Disability Insurance (SSDI) program has existed for nearly 60 years. Over that time, it has morphed from a relatively small-scale, anti-poverty program into a massive system that provides benefits to one out of every 20 working-age individuals. Despite its size and expense, the program fails to keep millions out of poverty. Rather than maintaining the…

  • Backgrounder posted July 30, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Bankrupt Pensions and Insolvent Pension Insurance: The Case of Multiemployer Pensions and the PBGC’s Multiemployer Program

    A growing number of private, multiemployer pension plans are projected to become insolvent over the coming years, as is the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the government entity that insures them. Absent substantial reform, the PBGC will be unable to pay promised benefits to the retirees of the failed pension plans that it insures. If Congress does not alter…

  • Issue Brief posted July 27, 2015 by Rachel Greszler, Salim Furth, Ph.D. An Economic Crisis Is the Heart of Puerto Rico’s Financial Crisis

    Puerto Rico faces a severe fiscal crisis, but this is merely a symptom of Puerto Rico’s primary disease: a lack of economic growth. Over the past decade, as Puerto Rico’s debt has expanded rapidly, the economy has contracted more than 10 percent. If the economy were growing, Puerto Rico would be much better positioned to address its fiscal crisis and might have averted it…

  • Backgrounder posted July 24, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Social Security Trustees: Disability Insurance Program Will Be Insolvent in 2016

    A‌ccording to the 2015 Social Security Trustees Report, the Social ‌Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund is on course to run dry in 2016, six decades after the program began in 1956.[1] Absent reform, disability benefits will be cut across the board by almost 20 percent, and the average disabled worker’s benefit will fall below the federal poverty level. For…

  • Commentary posted July 21, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Private option could help save disability insurance — and disabled workers, too

    The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program has many problems. For starters, it will run out of money next year, which could mean 20 percent benefit cuts. The program also suffers from excessive wait times, complicated rules and procedures, inconsistent decisions, deficient rehabilitation services, and insufficient protections against fraud. Introducing an…

  • Backgrounder posted July 20, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Private Disability Insurance Option Could Help Save SSDI and Improve Individual Well-being

    The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program will run out of money in a little over a year. Absent reforms, SSDI benefits will be cut about 20 percent, bringing the average benefit to below the poverty level. Before jumping to the quickest, allegedly easy, fix—a reallocation of payroll taxes from the Social Security retirement program to SSDI—policymakers need…

  • Backgrounder posted March 26, 2015 by Rachel Greszler, Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ph.D. Time to End the Federal Subsidy for High-Tax States

    Under federal tax law, individuals may deduct the income and property taxes that they pay to their state and local governments. In recent years, individuals have been allowed to choose between deducting their income tax or sales taxes.[1] Because federal tax deductions effectively spread the costs of these deductions across all taxpayers in the form of higher federal tax…

  • Commentary posted December 3, 2014 by Rachel Greszler As the Pension Agency Falters, Who Gets Stuck With Bill?

    The latest annual report from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation makes for some very uncomfortable reading. The deficit in PBGC’s multi-employer program quintupled in 2014, soaring to $42.4 billion from “only” $8.3 billion in 2013. That massive deficit is problematic for millions of workers who now stand to receive mere pennies on the dollar in promised pension…

  • Commentary posted October 8, 2014 by Rachel Greszler For the Economy’s Sake, it’s Time to Deep-Six the Death Tax

    Death and taxes are two of life’s certainties, but the tax on death itself should certainly be eliminated. A recent analysis by The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis found that doing away with the federal death tax would provide a much-needed, long-lasting boost to the nation’s economy. Indeed, it would increase economic growth by $46 billion over the next 10…

  • Backgrounder posted September 23, 2014 by John L. Ligon, Rachel Greszler, Patrick Tyrrell The Economic and Fiscal Effects of Eliminating the Federal Death Tax

    The federal estate tax (often referred to as the death tax) is a tax on a person’s lifetime accumulated property. In 2014, the death tax applies a 40 percent tax to all accumulated wealth above $5.34 million.[1] While the death tax applies to relatively few Americans and raises only tiny amounts of revenue for the federal government, it imposes substantial costs on the…