Policy Backgrounders

Policy Backgrounders are designed as briefing papers on public policy issues for people with limited time and a need to know about public policy issues.

The Marriage Penalty

A marriage penalty results when a married couple pay more taxes by filing jointly than they would pay if each spouse could file as a single person. A couple face the marriage penalty only when both sp…

The 1997 Budget Deal - What It Means to Taxpayers

The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 is important more as a political statement than for its economic impact. As the first major tax cut since 1981, it marks the end of the paralysis in fiscal policy that…

Making Welfare Work

Welfare reform that emphasizes putting welfare recipients to work is the most successful public policy initiative of this century.

The Case for Abolishing Death Taxes

The estate tax is a bad tax. It raises little revenue. It does not redistribute wealth. It imposes large costs on the economy. And it is complicated and unfair. It should be abolished.

An Environmental Report Card on the 104th Congress

Some environmentalists portrayed congressional attempts to modify clean air, clean water and safe drinking-water laws as giving corporations license to pollute and to endanger America's children. Othe…

The Case For An Across The Board Tax Rate Reduction

Federal taxes have reached their highest level in history. To bring federal taxes to a tolerable level will require not just tax reform, but a complete overhaul of the federal budget as well.

Tax Reform's Third Rail: Mortgage Interest

The mortgage interest deduction has long been considered the untouchable third rail of tax reform. However, a close look at a flat-rate tax suggests that, on balance, homeowners would gain more from i…

What's Happening To Americans' Income?

April 1995 marked the beginning of the fifth consecutive year of U.S. economic expansion.  Despite this good news, media reports often paint a bleak picture of the average American worker's prospects.…