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Featured Publication

What History Tells Us About The Public Option

“The Budget and Tax Effects of a Federal Public Option After COVID-19” by Lanhee J. Chen, Tom Church, Daniel Heil

“A public option that follows historical trends would become the third-largest federal spending program and increase deficits by almost $800 billion over ten years. These increases are particularly problematic given the significant increases in deficits fueled by the relief packages enacted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We examine a variety of tax hike scenarios that could finance a public option and return federal debt projections to their pre-COVID-19 levels. Limiting the tax increases to high-earning households would produce marginal federal income tax rates of 60 percent in 2050, higher than any point in the last 40 years. Using broad-based taxes would require increasing all personal income tax rates by over 30 percent in 2050, raising taxes on middle-income families by over $2,000 a year. Alternatively, financing the public option with payroll taxes would require increasing the Hospital Insurance payroll tax by 180 percent in 2050, with taxes for typical families rising by over $3,900. In short, policymakers will likely need to choose between a number of significant tax hikes to help finance the high costs of a politically realistic public option.”

Read the paper here.