Daily Digest - May 23: How to Pop a Housing Bubble Before It Starts

May 23, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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There will not be a new Daily Digest on Monday, May 26, in observance of Memorial Day. The Daily Digest will return on Tuesday, May 27.

The Shared-Responsibility Mortgage Could Help Bubbleproof the Housing Market (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

There will not be a new Daily Digest on Monday, May 26, in observance of Memorial Day. The Daily Digest will return on Tuesday, May 27.

The Shared-Responsibility Mortgage Could Help Bubbleproof the Housing Market (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Peter Coy looks at Atif Mian and Amir Sufi's bold suggestion for a new, safer mortgage structure in House of Debt, which would tie the cost of loan repayment to local housing prices.

It Wasn't Household Debt That Caused the Great Recession (The Atlantic)

Heather Boushey praises House of Debt for bringing in hard data to prove that banks targeting poorer communities for bad mortgages led to the recession, not general household debt.

Cutting Off Emergency Unemployment Benefits Hasn’t Pushed People Back to Work (Five Thirty Eight)

Most unemployed workers who no longer receive benefits are still struggling to find jobs, writes Ben Casselman, and nearly a quarter have dropped out of the labor force entirely.

McDonald's CEO Insists Fast-Food Giant Pays 'Fair Wages' as Protesters Rally (The Guardian)

Dominic Rushe reports on McDonald's chief executive Don Thompson's statement as protests against the company's pay practices continued outside its annual shareholder meeting.

Paul Ryan Now Wants to Solve Poverty with 'Love' and 'Eye to Eye' Contact. Don't Let Him. (The Week)

Elizabeth Stoker argues that Ryan's tough-love strategy of cutting aid programs won't actually help the poor, and that a truly loving approach would maintain government's obligation to all citizens.

A Progressive Alternative to Obamacare (MSNBC)

Geoffrey Cawley reports on Vermont's plan to implement single-payer health care as soon as 2017. This would be a step beyond the Affordable Care Act, though there are logistical hurdles.

Financial Crisis, Over and Already Forgotten (NYT)

Attacks on the Financial Stability Oversight Council demonstrate how quickly Washington has forgotten the source of the Great Recession, says Floyd Norris.

  • Roosevelt Take: "An Unfinished Mission," a report from the Roosevelt Institute and Americans for Financial Reform, lays out suggestions for the next phase of fixing the financial sector.

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Daily Digest - May 22: The Real Story of the Recession is About Housing

May 22, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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How Timothy Geithner Failed His Stress Test (AJAM)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal reviews Geithner's memoir and Atif Mian and Amir Sufi's House of Debt, raising questions about Geithner's focus on banks instead of the housing bubble.

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How Timothy Geithner Failed His Stress Test (AJAM)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal reviews Geithner's memoir and Atif Mian and Amir Sufi's House of Debt, raising questions about Geithner's focus on banks instead of the housing bubble.

Larry Summers: Student Debt Is Slowing the U.S. Housing Recovery (WSJ)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz concurred with Summers, calling the cost of higher education a crisis that is holding back the economy, reports Josh Mitchell.

Fed Panel Has Begun to Address How to Gradually Raise Rates (NYT)

Nelson D. Schwartz writes that the Fed is keeping its options open for tightening monetary policy amid concerns that inflation is still below target and the housing sector remains weak.

100 Arrested Near McDonald's Headquarters in Protest Over Low Pay (The Guardian)

Yesterday's protest of more than 2,000 people was met by police in riot gear, reports Dominic Rushe, and led to the shutdown of one building on the McDonald's corporate campus.

Republicans and Democrats Just Wrote Some Actual Legislation Together (Vox)

The legislation, which reorganizes federal jobs training programs, isn't exactly groundbreaking, says Libby Nelson, but it's still nice to see actual bipartisan action.

In Yesterday's Primaries, It Was Money That Mattered (TAP)

Paul Waldman points out that in the five major contested races on Tuesday, all of the results, including margins of victory, could be predicted by looking at fundraising.

U.S. Corporations Are Exploiting a Huge Tax Loophole, but the GOP Doesn't Want to Close It (TNR)

Proposed legislation would make it harder for U.S. companies to avoid taxes by merging with foreign firms, says Danny Vinik, but with no GOP support it isn't going anywhere.

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Daily Digest - May 21: What Do Consumers Get Out of Cable Mega-Mergers?

May 21, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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AT&T and DirecTV Team Up Against Customers (Bloomberg View)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford says that instead of overseeing mergers that will hurt consumers, regulators should be pushing cable companies to invest in infrastructure.

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AT&T and DirecTV Team Up Against Customers (Bloomberg View)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford says that instead of overseeing mergers that will hurt consumers, regulators should be pushing cable companies to invest in infrastructure.

To Lift the Poor, You Can’t Avoid Taxing the Rich (NYT)

The money for programs needed to help low-income Americans has to come from somewhere, writes Jared Bernstein, and simply promoting overall growth isn't a viable alternative.

A Super PAC for the Poor: How to Actually Get Something Done About Economic Suffering (Salon)

Blake Zeff argues that the best way to fight poverty is to take a page from the right's handbook and form a super PAC powerful enough to threaten lawmakers who don't support the cause.

Job Outlook for 2014 College Grads Puzzling (USA Today)

This is the sixth graduating class in a row to enter a profoundly weak labor market, writes Hadley Malcolm, and though unemployment is down, young people are leaving the work force.

No, Taking Away Unemployment Benefits Doesn’t Make People Get Jobs (ThinkProgress)

Bryce Covert reports on new data from Illinois, where two months after Congress allowed extended unemployment to lapse, 82 percent of those who lost benefits were still out of work.

As Court Fees Rise, The Poor Are Paying The Price (NPR)

Joseph Shapiro reveals the impact poverty has on Americans' experiences with the legal system, as fees increase for everything from public defenders to electronic monitoring devices.

Credit Suisse's Plea is Kabuki Theatre. Big US Banks are Still Getting Off Easy (The Guardian)

The Swiss bank's guilty plea won't harm its business, writes Heidi Moore, nor is it a sign that the Justice Department will start pursuing criminal charges against U.S. banks.

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Daily Digest - May 20: In a Weak Recovery, Even the Employed Feel Stuck

May 20, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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The Recession’s Effect on Job Churn (St. Louis Fed)

David Wiczer cites Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal's writing on the decline of job-to-job transitions and agrees that workers staying put highlights a weakness in the job market.

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The Recession’s Effect on Job Churn (St. Louis Fed)

David Wiczer cites Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal's writing on the decline of job-to-job transitions and agrees that workers staying put highlights a weakness in the job market.

  • Roosevelt Take: Mike argues that the struggles employed people face in finding work can tell us as much about the economy as the struggles of the unemployed.

Eric Holder, Michelle Obama talk about racism (The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren says Holder and Obama's speeches on the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board show the need for both policy and social change to fight racism.

Americans Owe $1.2 Trillion in Student Loans, Surpassing Credit Card and Auto Loan Debt Totals (NY Daily News)

As Senate Democrats prepare a bill that will allow student loans to be refinanced, Dan Friedman speaks to young people who feel their debt prevents their next steps forward.

  • Roosevelt Take: The Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network report "A New Deal for Students" lays out student-crafted policy proposals for solving the student debt crisis.

Thomas Piketty and the End of Our Peaceful Coexistence With Inequality (The Atlantic)

Moisés Naím looks at the rise of the "Piketty effect," which describes how the discussion of inequality and wealth spreads beyond academics into people's daily lives.

Here's The Painful Truth About What It Means To Be 'Working Poor' In America (HuffPo)

Nick Wing and Carly Schwartz introduce a new Huffington Post series on the working poor with quotes from many such workers that lay out the harsh realities they face.

Mortgage, Home-Equity Woes Linger (WSJ)

Underwater mortgages are still holding back the housing market, writes Conor Dougherty. When homeowners can't leave, inexpensive houses don't enter the market.

Credit Suisse Pleads Guilty in Felony Case (NYT)

Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg report that this is the first time in two decades that a bank has pled guilty on criminal charges, in this case conspiring to aid tax evasion.

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Thinking Bigger: New Fellows Expand the Scope of Roosevelt Institute's Economic Policy Work

May 19, 2014
When Franklin D. Roosevelt put his team together to craft the New Deal, he sought out thinkers and doers who could rise to the challenges of their time. As the Roosevelt Institute works to carry on that legacy and build a New Deal for the 21st century, the nation’s challenges remain daunting: a growing concentration of wealth and power, a labor force struggling against exploitative working conditions, and a compromised democracy that favors the few over the many.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt put his team together to craft the New Deal, he sought out thinkers and doers who could rise to the challenges of their time. As the Roosevelt Institute works to carry on that legacy and build a New Deal for the 21st century, the nation’s challenges remain daunting: a growing concentration of wealth and power, a labor force struggling against exploitative working conditions, and a compromised democracy that favors the few over the many. To aid in developing policy ideas that match the scale of these problems, the Institute is pleased to announce three new additions to its Four Freedoms Center think tank: Senior Fellow Damon Silvers and Fellows Susan Holmberg and J.W. Mason.
 
“Inequality in the United States is disturbingly on the rise, and Americans are eager to pursue bold and meaningful solutions,” said Felicia Wong, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute. “Activists, policymakers, and everyday workers are fighting for progress across the country, and these new additions to our roster of fellows will make the Roosevelt Institute an even stronger thought partner to allies.”
 
Silvers, Director of Policy and Special Counsel for the AFL-CIO, plans to focus his work at the Roosevelt Institute on policies and practical strategies that can revive the social vision of the New Deal. Holmberg, who also serves as the Roosevelt Institute’s Director of Research, will continue her ongoing investigation of executive pay and corporate governance structures as drivers of economic inequality. Mason, an assistant professor of economics at John Jay College, CUNY, will work with Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal to examine the financialization of the economy. Supporting Konczal and Mason will be Nell Abernathy, a Program Manager at the Roosevelt Institute who also works with Senior Fellow W. Bowman Cutter on the Next American Economy Project.
 
“Each of these new fellows is working on a distinct and important part of the overall puzzle, which is the shifting relationship among capital, labor, and democracy in the U.S.,” said David Palmer, Director of the Four Freedoms Center at the Roosevelt Institute. “Alongside existing Roosevelt Institute initiatives like the Future of Work, Women and Girls Rising, and the Next American Economy, this financialization and macroeconomic policy work will help set an ambitious agenda for reform.”
 
In addition to his work with the Roosevelt Institute and the AFL-CIO, Silvers serves on a pro bono basis as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York. He is also a member of the Investor Advisory Committee of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Treasury Department’s Financial Research Advisory Committee, and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s Standing Advisory Group and Investor Advisory Group. He received his J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School, an M.B.A. with high honors from Harvard Business School, and is a Baker Scholar.
 
Holmberg holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the premier center for research and teaching in heterodox economics. Prior to coming to the Roosevelt Institute, she worked with Econ4 and the Center for Popular Economics, organizations that work to foster economic literacy in the civic space and reform economics education in the classroom. She has also worked at the Political Economy Research Institute and as a Research Analyst and Community Organizer at the Center for Rural Studies in Vermont.
 
Mason did his graduate work at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago. In addition to his scholarly work, he has done policy work for the New York Working Families Party, the New York City Independent Budget Office, and the AFL-CIO, and has published popular articles in The NationIn These TimesThe American ProspectThe BafflerJacobin, and The New Inquiry, among other venues. He blogs on economics and politics at slackwire.blogspot.com.
 
Abernathy previously worked as an economics journalist in emerging markets including Nigeria, Ghana, Turkey, and China, and at the Clinton Global Initiative, where her focus was advanced manufacturing. She has a Master's Degree in International Finance and Economic Policy from Columbia University's School of International and Political Affairs and a B.A. from Brown University.
 
For a full list of current Roosevelt Institute Fellows, click here.
 
For more information or to request an interview, please contact Tim Price.
 

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Daily Digest - May 19: Workers Around the World Order Up Higher Pay

May 19, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Fight for Higher Wages Goes Global (Melissa Harris-Perry)

Guest host and Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren discusses the evolution of the fast food workers movement as it spreads beyond American borders.

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

Fight for Higher Wages Goes Global (Melissa Harris-Perry)

Guest host and Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren discusses the evolution of the fast food workers movement as it spreads beyond American borders.

How to Win Millennials: Equality, Climate Change, and Gay Marriage (The Atlantic)

A new survey of Millennials shows a decidedly progressive voting bloc, says John Tierney, with broad support for government involvement on the issues that matter to them.

The Odds You’ll Join the Ranks of the Long-Term Unemployed (WaPo)

Matt O'Brien looks at data showing how closely long-term unemployment is tied to the business cycle. Losing a job at the right moment makes all the difference for finding a new one.

The Deep Roots of Skilled Labor Shortages: Anti-Union, Anti-Worker Corporations (Working Economics)

The solution to shortages of skilled construction labor in Texas isn't training, writes Ross Eisenbrey. It's paying the higher wages skilled workers deserve, and welcoming unions.

The Republican War on Workers’ Rights (NYT)

Corey Robin examines the spread of state laws that harm workers since the 2010 midterms, from banning municipal sick leave guarantees to easing child labor restrictions.

Retailers Make More by Paying Their Workers Better, Researcher Says (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Ann Besler writes about new research proving that cutting labor budgets in retail leads to lower sales. Stores then cut labor even more, creating a vicious cycle of low profits.

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In Georgia, Lawmakers Taking Pride in Policies That Hurt the Poor

May 16, 2014Andrea Flynn

This post is the final in the Roosevelt Institute's National Women's Health Week series, which will address pressing issues affecting the health and economic security of women and families in the United States. Today, a close look at the state of Georgia, where the legislature is taking active steps against the Affordable Care Act.

This post is the final in the Roosevelt Institute's National Women's Health Week series, which will address pressing issues affecting the health and economic security of women and families in the United States. Today, a close look at the state of Georgia, where the legislature is taking active steps against the Affordable Care Act.

Georgia has taken the lead in the mad dash to thwart the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and prevent poor people from accessing health care. Last week, Governor Nathan Deal signed into law two bills that ensure the state won’t be expanding Medicaid any time soon, and that make it decidedly more difficult for people to gain coverage under the ACA. These laws – a notch in the belt of conservatives preparing for the fall election – compound the social and economic injustices already experienced by many low-income Georgians.

House Bill 990 moves the authority to expand Medicaid out of the Governor’s office and over to lawmakers. In a state where conservative politics run deep, HB 990 is Governor Deal’s clever way of way of ensuring Medicaid expansion will never get passed, and abdicating all responsibility for the health and economic consequences that will surely result. The second bill, HB 943, restricts state and local agencies and their employees from advocating for Medicaid expansion, bans the creation of a state health insurance exchange, and prohibits the University of Georgia from continuing its navigator program once its original federal grant expires in August. The University’s navigators have been working throughout the state – especially in underserved rural areas – to help demystify the ACA, assist individuals in gaining coverage on the national exchange, and help those who already qualify for Medicaid to enroll.

“Someone else will now have to re-invent the wheel and figure out how to get resources to people in rural areas," said Beth Stephens of Georgia Watch, a non-partisan consumer advocacy organization.

Like many other states that refuse to participate in Medicaid expansion, Georgia isn’t faring so well by most socio-economic indicators. The poverty rate, which now hovers around 20 percent, is 50 percent higher than it was in 2000. Nearly two million Georgians do not have health coverage, ranking the state fifth nationally in numbers of uninsured. Close to half of those individuals between the ages 18 and 64 have incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, many of whom would be covered under Medicaid expansion. Georgia has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates (seven percent) and today the average family makes $6,000 less than it did 10 years ago, when inflation is factored in. Individuals living outside of major cities have few health care options. In recent years eight rural hospitals have closed, leaving residents with scarce health resources and hospital workers without jobs.

To make matters worse, lawmakers in Georgia have been systematically dismantling the state’s social safety net. Of the 300,000 Georgian families living below the poverty line, only 19,000 receive TANF and more than three quarters of those cases involve children only. That means that fewer than seven percent of low-income Georgians are able to get the welfare assistance they badly need. On the same day that Governor Deal signed the aforementioned bills, he also signed HB 772, requiring certain individuals to pass – and foot the bill for – a drug test before receiving welfare and food stamps. That bill is thought to be the nation’s most stringent when it comes to public assistance.

The environment is especially hostile for Georgia’s women, 21 percent of whom live in poverty (33 and 36 percent of Black and Hispanic Georgian women, respectively). More women in Georgia die of pregnancy-related causes than women in all but two other states. The U.S. maternal mortality rate (MMR) is 18.5; that is the number of women who die for every 100,000 births. Georgia’s MMR has more than doubled since 2004 and is now 35.5 (a shocking 63.8 for black women and 24.6 for white women). Expanding Medicaid would extend health coverage to more than 500,000 uninsured Georgians, 342,000 of them women. That coverage would surely save women’s lives.

Expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do, and it makes good economic sense. It would support the development of 70,343 jobs statewide in the next decade. In that time it would bring $33 billion of new federal funding into the state, generating $1.8 billion in new state revenue. Despite all this, and despite the fact that poverty is increasing, access to health care is decreasing, and more women are dying because of pregnancy than in any time in the past 20 years, conservatives in Georgia proudly reject Medicaid expansion.

Grassroots groups in the state are working hard to counter anti-ACA sentiments. SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, an Atlanta-based non-profit that is educating and mobilizing Georgians on issues related to the ACA, released a statement in support of Medicaid expansion immediately after the Supreme Court determined states could opt-out. In addition to hosting press conferences at the capital and participating in public education events, SPARK is empowering young people to collect and tell their own stories – and those of their families – to illustrate the need for improved health access in the state and clear up confusion about how the ACA would benefit various communities. The organization is also collaborating with health navigators, particularly those working in low-income, LGBT, and black communities, to get across the message that all Georgia citizens deserve health security. “We are telling them they shouldn’t have to worry about sacrificing gas, transportation, prescriptions, etc. We are putting it back on our state and our policymakers to make it right for everyone," said Malika Redmond, SPARK’s executive director.  

The majority of Georgians want lawmakers to make it right. Polls show that 59.6 percent disagree with the state’s refusal to participate in expansion. That sentiment is shared by 64.9 percent of women and by 82.9 percent of African-Americans.

Conservative lawmakers don’t seem to care. They are busy patting each other on the back for sticking it to Obama and undermining the ACA. But the ACA isn’t going away. It’s only getting stronger. And the only people conservatives are sticking it to are the poor families in their state that are already reeling from policies that are costing them their health, their happiness, and their lives. 

Andrea Flynn is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. Follow her on Twitter @dreaflynn.

Banner photo via Flickr.

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Daily Digest - May 16: American Dreamers Wake Up to Inequality

May 16, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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It’s Now the Canadian Dream (NYT)

Nicholas Kristof quotes Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz on how inequality of opportunity has diminished the American Dream.

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

It’s Now the Canadian Dream (NYT)

Nicholas Kristof quotes Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz on how inequality of opportunity has diminished the American Dream.

  • Roosevelt Take: Stiglitz spoke to the Senate Budget Committee about growing inequality of income and opportunity in the U.S., and how policy can push back.

Harry Reid Backs Campaign Spending Amendment (Politico)

The Senate Majority Leader has backed a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United and McCutcheon, writes Burgess Everett, though it's unlikely to pass.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch calls for political organizing to protect democracy in the wake of McCutcheon.

Biggest Fast Food Strike Ever Attracts Global Support (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff reports on the expansion of the fast food strikes that began a year and a half ago in New York City. Yesterday brought strikes in 150 U.S. cities and 33 other countries.

Fast Food, Slow Movement (TAP)

Paul Waldman says the slow growth of the fast food movement could be to its advantage when it comes to developing demands, strategies, and leadership.

Another Conservative Governor Finds a Way to Expand Medicaid (WaPo)

Expanding Medicaid without provoking GOP opposition, as Indiana's governor is attempting to do, could be key to closing the coverage gap, writes Jason Millman.

New on Next New Deal

In Georgia, Lawmakers Taking Pride in Policies That Hurt the Poor

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn explains why Georgia's active efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act are making things worse in a state with an already high poverty rate.

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Rethinking Communities

May 15, 2014

National change begins in our own back yards. Learn how the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's Rethinking Communities initiative is making it happen.

National change begins in our own back yards. Learn how the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's Rethinking Communities initiative is making it happen.

Learn more at rethinkingcommunities.com and join the conversation using hashtag #RethinkingCommunities.

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Places for Hope in the Fight to Protect Women's Health and Rights

May 15, 2014Andrea Flynn

This post is the fourth in the Roosevelt Institute's National Women's Health Week series, which will address pressing issues affecting the health and economic security of women and families in the United States. Today's post looks at states that are taking positive, proactive steps on women's access to health care.

This post is the fourth in the Roosevelt Institute's National Women's Health Week series, which will address pressing issues affecting the health and economic security of women and families in the United States. Today's post looks at states that are taking positive, proactive steps on women's access to health care.

It’s National Women’s Health Week, but with conservative lawmakers around the country in a pissing match to see who can propose and pass more anti-women laws, it is sometimes difficult to find occasion to celebrate. However, there is reason for hope. A number of states are currently deliberating (or have passed) legislation that protects women’s access to health care, showing that states can be safe havens, not just hostile environments, for women and their families.

There has certainly been reason to despair. We are not even five months into the year and have already seen a barrage of anti women’s health legislation at the state level. 15 states have introduced abortion bans that would replace Roe v. Wade by instituting gestational bans as early as six weeks. 14 states have introduced regulations on abortion providers, similar to those that have shuttered 20 of the 44 clinics that provided abortions in Texas (in September when new restrictions are fully implemented, there will only be six left in the entire state). Seven states have proposed banning abortion coverage on insurance plans purchased through the Affordable Care Act’s health exchanges, eight have proposed banning such coverage in private health plans, and nine have proposed banning or regulating Medicaid coverage of abortion. 11 states have proposed legislation mandating abortion counseling and waiting periods, and four of those states use inaccurate information about the links between breast cancer and abortion. This compounds the crises created by the litany of anti-women’s health bills that states have passed in the last three years.

However, some states are moving in the opposite direction. California is modeling legislation that can protect women’s access to health care. Last fall, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that expands access to abortion by allowing nurse practitioners, midwives, and physician assistants to perform abortions during the first trimester. And a few weeks ago, State Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) introduced the Contraceptive Coverage Equity Act, which reinforces the ACA’s requirement that insurance companies cover all FDA approved contraceptive methods and counseling without cost-sharing. It also mandates insurance coverage of birth control for men without cost-sharing.

A number of states (including CA) had contraceptive equity laws in place before the ACA was implemented. However, there are vague provisions in the ACA, such as allowing insurers to limit benefits through “medical management techniques,” which are sometimes being used by physicians and insurers to deny women the contraceptive method of their choice (certainly was not the intent of the ACA). Older equity laws do not necessarily protect women who fall through confusion in the law. Updates like California's are necessary to ensure continuity of care.

California is far ahead of the pack, but it’s not alone. Legislators in New York are again attempting to pass the Women’s Equality Act (WEA), an omnibus bill that aims to protect reproductive health and abortion rights by codifying Roe v. Wade at the state level. It would also prevent income, housing, pregnancy, and family status discrimination; reduce human trafficking; protect victims of domestic violence; and stop workplace sexual harassment, among other provisions. The WEA was introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo last year but failed in the final minutes of the legislative session because of disagreements over the bill’s abortion provision. The bill moves the issue of abortion access from the margins and puts it exactly where it should be: in the context of women’s economic and social security. After failing to pass the bill last year, legislators and advocates are working to advance the agenda again this year.

Lawmakers in Washington state are deliberating a measure that would require all health plans (including those in the state's exchange) that provide coverage for maternity care to also include coverage for abortion services. At a time when states are aggressively working to restrict insurance coverage of abortion, the Washington bill (which does include religious exemptions), stands out as a model of pro-choice legislation.

If passed, these bills would be great news for women in those respective states. Unfortunately, women who live outside these states won’t be so lucky, particularly those living in states that refuse to participate in Medicaid expansion. It’s hard to believe that in 2014 we need to resort to one-off pieces of legislation that protect only some women’s access to basic health care. But such are the times. The ACA was meant to be a path to health insurance for most Americans, and for many it has drastically improved access to quality, affordable healthcare. But challenges and changes to the law have left some of those in greatest need without coverage.

Conservatives have been so successful at passing anti-women’s health legislation because they have scores of ready-made bills at their fingertips when they come into office. Progressives need those same resources to protect the rights of women and families. The bills in California, New York, and Washington are important models for advocates and lawmakers in other states and municipalities who are working to counter the tide of anti-women’s health legislation that is sweeping the nation. Perhaps they will spark a quiet groundswell of pro-woman and pro-family laws. Now that would be something to celebrate. 

Andrea Flynn is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. Follow her on Twitter @dreaflynn.

 

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