Editors and designers for the Harvard Political Review – a top undergraduate journal on politics and public policy supported by Harvard’s Institute of Politics – have released the FY 2013 Annual Report of the USA (ARUSA), a research tool offering an examination of the federal budget and challenges facing American taxation and spending policy.
Published in partnership with the nonprofit American Education Foundation (AEF), the report provides straightforward and nonpartisan analysis of major spending areas and the tough decisions facing policymakers. First created in 1995 by Harvard undergraduate Meredith Bagby, ARUSA’s FY 2013 edition encourages bipartisanship on federal spending woes and cuts through the gridlock on government spending. The report presents special reports on the federal deficit and the debt; health care, social security, and Medicare and Medicaid; and a detailed review of federal spending on foreign relations, security and defense, education, science and technology, immigration, agriculture and other areas.
KEY FINDINGS FROM THE REPORT INCLUDE:
- Without reform, Social Security beneficiaries will face a 23 percent benefit cut in 2033. By 2087, beneficiaries will receive 28 percent less than calculated under the current benefit formula.
- Annual growth in Medicare costs has fallen from 7.1 percent between 2000 and 2005 to 3.8 percent between 2007 and 2010. Though experts disagree on why health costs have slowed, federal health care spending over the next 10 years will be $770 billion lower than current projections should the trend continue.
- Many tax expenditures disproportionately benefit high-income taxpayers. For instance, taxpayers at the bottom of income distribution can only reap benefits from refundable tax credits, yet 81 percent of tax expenditures are non-refundable deductions or exclusions.
- In FY 2014, the Obama administration requested $75 billion in mandatory spending for early childhood education over the next ten years, with $1.3 billion requested for 2014. The “Preschool for All” initiative would create a federal-state partnership that incentivizes states to provide a preschool education to all 4-year olds residing within their borders.
- Between 2007 and 2011, average monthly participation in SNAP, or the food stamp program, grew nearly 77 percent. The cost of the program grew as well: it was up to $71.8 billion in 2011 from $30.4 billion four years earlier. This made it the most expensive part of the farm bill, though House Republicans unsuccessfully sought to separate the SNAP program from the rest of the farm bill in July 2013.
“Fiscal year 2013 was a disappointing year in federal budget policy, with only small signs of hope in the compromises made since last fall’s government shutdown – and starkly reflected our elected leaders’ preference for inaction,” said Daniel Backman, ARUSA student executive editor and president of the HPR.
“By presenting essential budgetary information in an easy-to-understand format, the writers of ARUSA hope to help Americans keep their politicians accountable on the issues that matter.”
“It’s tax time. All of us pay taxes, but how many of us understand where that money goes?” said Meredith Bagby, American Education Foundation executive director and Harvard Institute of Politics Spring 2004 resident fellow. “These scholars have produced an insightful, nonpartisan account of how the government spends our money and the difficult choices we all face to reign in our collective debt.”
All proceeds from sale of the FY 2013 report, available on Amazon.com in paperback or as a Kindle e-book, will be dedicated toward creation and production of future editions of ARUSA. ARUSA partners will continue to promote the reports as an educational resource for a variety of constituencies including government officials and policymakers, the media and America’s citizens.