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April 10, 2015 / Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

The U.S. spends more, gets less

There’s lots of news to share, so here’s your regular Daily WRAG edition instead of the Friday roundup. Happy Friday!

Government programs that support the poor are often subject to heavy criticism and are considered a wasteful burden. A new study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics , however, points to tax breaks as the real culprit of wasteful spending in the American system (WaPo, 4/9):

Witness the recent outrage over welfare recipients eating steak, visiting swimming pools, and driving a Mercedes while receiving public funds. But a new study argues that the real waste in the American system comes not from welfare programs like food stamps, but from widespread tax breaks that subsidize spending on things like health care and housing.

Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the non-partisan Peterson Institute for International Economics, argues in a new report that once you take these kinds of tax breaks into account, the U.S. actually devotes far more resources than many other countries to “social spending” — spending on pensions, health care, family support, unemployment, housing assistance, and similar benefits meant to help people out in hard times. And, compared with most advanced countries, the U.S. gets far less bang for its buck in terms of health outcomes and equality.

HEALTH | Mayor Muriel Bowser is set to launch a new health and fitness initiative for District residents that will link them to nutrition and physical fitness resources in an effort to promote healthier lifestyles and reduce chronic diseases. (DCist, 4/9)

RACIAL EQUITY | The Atlantic takes a close look at America’s cities with high rates of racially concentrated areas of affluence (RCAAs), and the problematic way public policy has worked to address poverty. (Atlantic, 4/10)

GENDER EQUITY | Opinion: In the fight for gender equality, many have called for more support from men to further push for change. Four male Maryland legislators have become pioneers by becoming the first men to join the Women Legislators of Maryland – something that has never been done anywhere else in the country. (WaPo, 4/9)

ENVIRONMENT | The Troublesome Connection Between City Trees and Income Inequality (CityLab, 4/9)

FOOD | Schools becoming the ‘last frontier’ for hungry kids (USA Today, 4/5)

INEQUALITY | Opinion: According to the Social Progress Index for 2015, the United States ranks 16th overall. But in a country that constantly touts itself as “number 1,” have we become far too complacent to earn that distinction? (NYT, 4/9)

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– Ciara


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