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Upside Down: The $400 Billion Federal Asset-Building Budget

Resource Information

Author(s): Ida Rademacher, Beadsie Woo, Jillien Meier

Date Published: September 2010

File Type: PDF

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Published by CFED, Annie E. Casey Foundation

Upside Down: America’s $400 Billion Federal Asset-Building Budget, is an investigation into federal expenditures aimed at encouraging savings and investment.

Among the most compelling findings included in the report is that of the nearly $400 billion spent by the federal government in 2009, most funds went toward tax breaks. However, more than half of these breaks went to the wealthiest five percent of taxpayers, and for households making more than $1 million, the average asset subsidy was nearly $96,000 each. On the other hand, less than 5% of the federal expenditures benefited the Americans earning the least. The bottom 60% of taxpayers averaged just $5 each.

This finding and a series of others likely evoke immediate frustration, pointing to yet another barrier keeping low- and moderate-income Americans from getting ahead and achieving the American dream. Yet, with this information comes unprecedented opportunity. As CFED Founder and Board Chair Robert Friedman elucidates, “Taken together, this suggests we have a monumental opportunity not only to save by curbing existing ineffective tax incentives, but to increase net savings significantly by extending effective incentives to the asset-poor majority.

CFED Initiative:

CFED Research

Issue Areas:

Cross-Cutting: Communicating about Assets

Cross-Cutting: Data on Financial Security and Opportunity

Cross-Cutting: Policy/Advocacy

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