Why Americans Dislike the Tax System

Pew Research: “Americans don’t much like the federal tax system… But it’s not, as you might imagine, because they think they pay too much. Rather, they think people other than themselves don’t pay their fair share.”

“Some six-in-ten Americans in the Pew Research survey said they were bothered a lot by the feeling that ‘some wealthy people’ and ‘some corporations’ don’t pay their fair share. Only 27% cited their own tax bills as something that bothered them a lot, even though 40% thought they paid more than their fair share given what they get from the federal government.”

Why Abolishing the IRS is a Bad Idea

Catherine Rampell explains why abolishing the IRS—most recently floated by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in his presidential campaign announcement at Liberty University—”is a phenomenally bad idea.”

“Well, sorry to say it, but someone has to collect the money that keeps our government up and running, funding everything from Medicare to the military. The IRS is a cash-flow-positive agency, collecting an estimated $255 for every $1 appropriated to it, and dumping it would vastly widen existing government deficits.”

“One reason Americans have long hated the IRS, needless to say, is that paying taxes is painful. Not just because doing so means handing over money to the government, but because it’s so darn complicated… But this is not the IRS’s fault. This is Congress’s fault, for it is Congress that writes the Internal Revenue Code and clutters it with myriad carve-outs, loopholes, preferences, deductions and complicated categories for what counts as income and what doesn’t, and under what circumstances. The IRS is tasked with implementing, interpreting and enforcing these laws.”

How to Improve Graduation Rates at Community Colleges

“Community colleges are intended to be gateways to careers or to four-year colleges offering bachelor’s degrees. Unfortunately, they have very low graduation rates. Just 20 percent of full-time students seeking a degree get one within three years. That number rises to 35 percent after five years, but by then another 45 percent have given up completely and are no longer enrolled. With graduation rates that low, community colleges can be dead ends rather than gateways for students,” the Upshot reports.

“Graduation rates are low in part because community colleges can’t exclude poorly prepared students. Unlike selective schools, they are required to take anyone who walks in the door, and they have to work harder to get those students to graduation.”

“But an initiative at the City University of New York shows enormous promise for improving graduation rates at community colleges. The program, Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), nearly doubled the share of students graduating within three years (to 40 percent from 22 percent). ASAP also increased the share enrolling in a four-year college (to 25 percent from 17 percent), so it may also, in time, increase the share earning a bachelor’s degree.”

Where Are People Most Optimistic About Their Children’s Future?

Pew Research: “In general, countries that have experienced higher economic growth since 2008 are more optimistic for the next generation than publics that have had less growth. For example, in China, which has experienced an average GDP growth of 9% between 2008 and 2013, 85% of the public says young people will be better off financially than their parents. Meanwhile, Italians, who have seen their economy contract by an average of 2% per year over the course of the global recession, are much less optimistic (15%).”

GDP Growth and Optimism about Children's Future

Fight Continues to Save State Renewable Energy Policies

“There was a series of attempts in 2013 and 2014 to repeal or weaken state laws that set targets for increasing the use of renewable energy. States across the country—including Wisconsin, Kansas, Texas and North Carolina, among others—faced campaigns against their renewable energy standards. All of those attempts were unsuccessful except in the case of Ohio,” EcoWatch reports.

“Passed in 2008 with nearly unanimous support from both Republican and Democratic legislators, Ohio’s energy standards required utilities to meet 12.5 percent of electricity demand with renewable energy and to decrease energy use by more than 22 percent by 2025, with interim targets each year beforehand. The standards also required half of the renewable energy to come from in-state facilities.”


Beshear Offers Kentucky as Obamacare Model for Red States

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) “is touting his state as an example of making ObamaCare work in a Republican stronghold,” The Hill reports.

“The state has drawn national attention for setting up its own ObamaCare marketplace and expanding Medicaid under the law.”

Said Beshear: “Let me be clear: We welcome the attention, because we know we have boldly seized the opportunity to change the course of history in our state… Look, I’m well aware of the so-called ‘politics’ of the ACA. President Obama didn’t get a lot of votes in Kentucky. We’re represented in the Senate by two high-profile Republicans who have no love for either the president or his signature program. But there’s a huge disconnect between the rank partisanship of national politics and governors whose job it is to help beleaguered families, strengthen work forces, attract companies and build a balanced budget.”

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Stalled in 2014

New data from the International Energy Agency  “indicate that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn.”

Said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol: “This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today.”

“Global emissions of carbon dioxide stood at 32.3 billion tonnes in 2014, unchanged from the preceding year. The preliminary IEA data suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought.”

There Is a Cost to Global Political Uncertainty

Working Capital Review: “As news of Greece’s revised bailout out plan sinks in, questions turn once again around the intersection of government action(s) and global markets.”

While on the one hand “Eurozone finance ministers on Tuesday approved Greece’s plan meant to ease the hardships created by its international bailout, extending that loan program by four more months,’ the paper simultaneously adds: ‘But though the eurozone ministers were leading the negotiations on behalf of their countries, the response from two of the other creditors — the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — conveyed a certain skepticism of whether Greece could live up to the terms of the new agreement.'”

“Indeed, there remains great lack of clarity of what the ultimate outcome will be. “

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