Daily Digest - May 12: Walmart Sets the Wrong Example for a Progressive Future

May 12, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Did Obama Make a Mistake by Touting Solar Power at Walmart? (All In with Chris Hayes)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren says this speech rewarded a company that is failing on the environment and on inequality, which makes it a confusing political choice.

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Did Obama Make a Mistake by Touting Solar Power at Walmart? (All In with Chris Hayes)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren says this speech rewarded a company that is failing on the environment and on inequality, which makes it a confusing political choice.

Thousands in Pierce County Trapped in Underwater Mortgages (Tacoma News Tribune)

Kathleen Cooper speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal, who says these mortgages slow economic growth because homeowners spend so much on debt payments.

Making Ends Meet at Walmart (NYT)

When Walmart reviewed its financials to determine performance pay for executives, it made adjustments to ensure larger bonuses despite a rough year, reports Gretchen Morgenson.

Undocumented NYC Domestic Workers Clean Up with Collective (AJAM)

Forming an environmentally friendly cleaning co-op has ensured fair wages, steady income, and safety for some undocumented workers, writes Kaelyn Forde.

Heller May Try to Attach Unemployment Extension to Tax Cut Bill (Roll Call)

Humberto Sanchez reports that an upcoming set of corporate tax breaks with bipartisan support could be key to a deal that would renew unemployment benefits.

FCC Head to Revise Broadband-Rules Plan (WSJ)

Gautham Nagesh says FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is trying to address public backlash with this latest revision of rules, which could be a good thing for net neutrality.

New on Next New Deal

For U.S. Mothers, Conservative Policies Can Be Deadly

Maternal mortality rates have increased in the U.S., and Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn argues that conservative policies like refusing Medicaid expansion make things worse.

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Daily Digest - March 26: Worker Misclassification Leads to Missing Wages

Mar 26, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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The Death of an Employer Scam (TAP)

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The Death of an Employer Scam (TAP)

Workers who are misclassified as independent contractors lose out on wages, benefits, and workplace protections - but Harold Meyerson says recent crackdowns could signal the end of industry-wide misclassification.

Unemployed, and Heading Toward Foreclosure (MSNBC)

More than half of the long-term unemployed live in owner-occupied homes, reports Suzy Khimm, and now they're struggling to keep their homes with no income and less-than-successful safety net programs.

America's Class System Across The Life Cycle (PolicyShop)

Matt Bruenig borrows charts from a wide variety of sources to look at how income inequality effects full lives, from childhood stress levels, to college completion rates, to age of death.

The Right's New "Welfare Queens": The Middle Class (The New Yorker)

George Packer says that Republican Senators at a recent committee hearing preferred to pin the economy's problem on adults choosing not to work instead of income inequality.

Democrats, as Part of Midterm Strategy, to Schedule Votes on Pocketbook Issues (NYT)

Jeremy W. Peters and Michael D. Shear report that the Senate Democrats' goals are less about passing legislation to fight inequality than getting Republicans on record opposing these bills.

U.S. Banks Enjoy 'Too-Big-to-Fail' Advantage: Fed Study (Reuters)

Emily Stephenson and Jonathan Spicer report on a new series of research papers by Federal Reserve economists that confirm that "too big to fail" advantages continued into 2009, after the financial crisis.

Will a For-Profit Degree Help You Get a Job? (The Atlantic)

Graduates of 72 percent of for-profit college career programs earn less than high school dropouts, reports Sophie Quinton. That's led to concerns that such schools waste federal financial aid, and calls for tighter standards.

New on Next New Deal

How the Weakening of American Labor Led to the Shrinking of America’s Middle Class

In the second post in his series describing his new report on labor organizing reform, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch looks at the era in which corporations began to shift profits away from workers.

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Daily Digest - March 11: What is the GDP of the Internet?

Mar 11, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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The Benefits of Internet Innovation are Hard to Spot in GDP Statistics (The Guardian)

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The Benefits of Internet Innovation are Hard to Spot in GDP Statistics (The Guardian)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz explains why technological innovation has little effect on measurements of economic success, even though most agree that it improves quality of life.

This is What a Job in the U.S.’s New Manufacturing Industry Looks Like (WaPo)

Lydia DePillis profiles one of the rising number of temp workers at factories in Tennessee, for whom the return of manufacturing hasn't meant the return of solid middle-class jobs.

Finding Home: Voices of the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program (The Century Foundation)

Stefanie DeLuca and Jessi Stafford examine the program's successes in moving families from low- to high-opportunity neighborhoods through two families' stories. They suggest this could break the cycle of poverty.

Let Them Eat Dignity (TAP)

Republicans think that accepting government handouts harms the soul, says Paul Waldman – but only if you're poor. No one talks about the lack of dignity in the mortgage interest deduction.

More Evidence That SNAP Caseloads Have Started Falling (Off The Charts)

For the fourth straight month, Dottie Rosenbaum reports, food stamps have dropped compared to the previous year. Critics can stop worrying about out-of-control safety net spending.

Schools Across the Country Offering Universal Free Lunch (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff reports on districts adopting community eligibility for school lunch: if over 40 percent of students qualify, then the entire district can get rid of the paperwork and give every student free lunch.

No, Americans Are Not All To Blame for the Financial Crisis (TNR)

Subprime mortgage holders shouldn't be blamed for today's economy, writes Dean Starkman. He places all the fault with Wall Street and the culture of profit above all.

When the 1 Percent Opposes Long-Term Economic Growth (The Week)

Ryan Cooper suggests that the wealthy care about long-term growth only as far as it helps them. When pro-growth policies would probably mean higher inflation, they don't see an urgent need for growth.

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Daily Digest - March 10: Main Street Pays Rent to Wall Street

Mar 10, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Could a Wall Street Firm be Your Landlord? (Melissa Harris-Perry)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren points out the possibility that new rental-backed securities from Wall Street could pose a civil rights problem if they capitalize on communities of color.

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Could a Wall Street Firm be Your Landlord? (Melissa Harris-Perry)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren points out the possibility that new rental-backed securities from Wall Street could pose a civil rights problem if they capitalize on communities of color.

US Postal Service Inspector General Proposes Launching Low-Fee Public Bank (Real News Network)

Postal banking would aim to help low-income Americans who are currently unbanked, says Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal, without the predatory fees they would face at traditional banks.

The Real Story Behind the Detroit Pension Fight and What it Means to America's Future (Alternet)

Lynn Stuart Parramore speaks to Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Rob Johnson about the so-called pensions crisis. The key takeaway: cutting pensions is a choice, one that will cause harm for generations.

More on CBO and the Limits of Economic Analysis (On The Economy)

Jared Bernstein responds to a critique from Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick, arguing that what needs to change isn't the Congressional Budget Office's analyses, but our lack of skepticism.

Unemployment in February Remains Elevated Across the Board (Working Economics)

Heidi Shierholz compares February's jobs report to pre-recession numbers, and argues that the sustained high unemployment across the board is proof that the jobs crisis comes from a lack of demand.

Why Americans Should Take August Off (The Nation)

Vacationing isn't a sign of laziness, writes Bryce Covert; it boosts spending and productivity, both of which would be great for the U.S. economy.

New on Next New Deal

What Les Misérables Can Teach Us About Paul Ryan's Poverty Plan

"Honest work, just reward" is a central conceit in GOP anti-poverty plans, but Nell Abernathy, Program Manager for the Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative, says this ignores the realities of low-income work.

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Daily Digest - February 19: The Misleading Math on the Minimum Wage

Feb 19, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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In Its Minimum-Wage Report, the CBO Places Its Thumb on the Scale (TNR)

The new report, which predicts a $10.10 minimum wage could cost as many as 1 million jobs, overstates the potential downside and understates the benefits, argues Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal.

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In Its Minimum-Wage Report, the CBO Places Its Thumb on the Scale (TNR)

The new report, which predicts a $10.10 minimum wage could cost as many as 1 million jobs, overstates the potential downside and understates the benefits, argues Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal.

Student Debt May Hurt Housing Recovery by Hampering First-Time Buyers (WaPo)

Dina ElBoghdady reports that new rules could be keeping young would-be homeowners with student loans out of the market, and that has implications for the housing market and the broader economy.

Businesses Are Swimming in Money: Profit Protection Will Not Help With Economic Recovery (Pacific Standard)

Martin Hart-Landsberg uses charts to demonstrate just how much money businesses are sitting on today. He says this data shows that pro-business policy won't speed up the recovery for everyone else.

New on Next New Deal

In VW Vote, Republicans Fight the Really Radical Idea that Workers Should Have a Voice in Business

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch explains how the GOP influenced the United Auto Workers' loss at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant, even though the company wasn't opposed to the union.

Finding Affordable Housing Solutions in Boston

Gavin O'Brien, a member of the Greater Boston chapter of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline, lays out possible policy solutions to the soaring cost of living in Boston, from cooperative arrangements to affordable housing trusts.

Snowed Under: When Keeping Schools Open Puts Low-Income Students Further Behind

Attendance data doesn't support the claim that NYC schools needed to stay open during last week's snowstorm so kids could eat, says Sarah Pfeifer Vandekerckhove, the Roosevelt Institute's Director of Programmatic Operations.

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Finding Affordable Housing Solutions in Boston

Feb 18, 2014Gavin O Brien

Innovative solutions are needed to solve the serious problem of housing affordability in the Boston area.

Innovative solutions are needed to solve the serious problem of housing affordability in the Boston area.

The housing affordability crisis is reaching dramatic levels in Massachusetts. Case in point: according to The Boston Foundation’s Greater Boston Housing Report Card, “during the last eight years, the cost of living in Greater Boston has increased twice as fast as the median household income of homeowners and three times faster than the median household income of renters.” Affordability is a problem for 40 percent of homeowners in the area. For many families, owning a home is not even an option. The U.S. Census ranks Massachusetts 44th in homeownership and also 44th in income equality. These two rankings are not coincidental.

Homeownership increases social mobility and acts as a buffer against falling into poverty. For example, as an inheritance, a home can improve the economic outlook for future generations. Homes also have strong symbolic value as a key component of the American Dream. For these reasons, increasing access to homeownership is an important tool in the fight against inequality in America. Federal policies like the home mortgage interest deduction provide large financial incentives for homeownership. Other incentives and assistance may be needed.

Comprehensive efforts to maintain and increase the availability of affordable housing must involve all levels of government, in addition to nonprofits like local community development corporations. The private housing market will continue to drive up prices, so there is a need for creative solutions that avoid or reduce normal market pressures.

For example, cohousing or cooperative arrangements can allow for cost sharing and rent moderation. In a limited equity cooperative, members buy shares of a corporation that owns the housing. The corporation makes decisions democratically, can pay for building improvements, and removes the profit motive from property ownership. The value of a share is limited. There is, however, need for more bank financing of housing cooperatives, which could be addressed through state regulations or the use of community development financial institutions (CDFIs) – locally-based financial institutions targeting underserved populations.

Another possible solution is affordable housing trust funds operated at the city level, which are financed through property taxes, government funds, or fees levied on building developers. The trust funds can subsidize construction of new housing and provide direct subsidies to homeowners. The city of Somerville near Boston operates such a fund that loans money for down payments to first-time homebuyers and renters.

Affordable housing solutions must also involve local colleges and universities. Greater Boston has a large student population. Graduate students in particular are increasing in number, which drives up the cost of housing for student and non-student residents alike. City government could work with colleges to construct additional low-cost student housing to alleviate some of this upward price pressure.

High housing prices affect the ability of young professionals and families to remain in the Boston area. This in turn reduces the city’s economic and social potential.  Pipeline Greater Boston is organizing a series of discussions to examine possible solutions to housing issues that affect these groups. There is a need for civically engaged young people in Boston to implement new policy ideas and address the housing crisis that is affecting them, their neighborhoods, and the city as a whole.

Gavin O'Brien is a recent graduate of Brandeis University's Master of Public Policy program and a core member of the Greater Boston City Network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline.

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Daily Digest - February 11: Raising Wages from Coast to Coast

Feb 11, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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The Minimum Wage Fight: From San Francisco to de Blasio’s New York (Reuters)

Mayor de Blasio and others should learn from San Francisco's example when it comes to lifting standards for low-wage workers, write Ken Jacobs and Michael Reich.

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The Minimum Wage Fight: From San Francisco to de Blasio’s New York (Reuters)

Mayor de Blasio and others should learn from San Francisco's example when it comes to lifting standards for low-wage workers, write Ken Jacobs and Michael Reich.

Horrible Bosses (TAP)

Paul Waldman writes that some employers are blaming the President and his health care policies for benefit cuts and stagnant wages. But workers should know: their bosses are lying.

Labor Battle at Kellogg Plant in Memphis Drags On (NYT)

As the lockout approaches four months, Steven Greenhouse says these workers are determined not to accept a contract that could replace them all with "casuals," or lower-paid temps.

New York AG To Put Heat On Banks for Foreclosed Properties (WSJ)

Eric Schneiderman wants to require banks to take better care of so-called "zombie properties" they've foreclosed on, reports Andrew R. Johnson, and his proposed bill would reduce neighborhood blight.

Obama's Partly to Blame for the Postal Service's Backward Ways (TNR)

Progressive reform, including postal banking, is in reach for the USPS, says David Dayen, if only the president would step up and fill the five empty seats on its Board of Governors.

Support the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights (Blog of the Century)

Jill Silos-Rooney says Senator Warren's proposal bets that college grads who have fewer struggles with debt will be better for the economy than government profits on student loans.

House GOP Rolls Dice on Debt Limit (Politico)

Jake Sherman and Ginger Gibson report on the GOP's plan to pass a debt ceiling increase by tying it to fixing military benefit cuts. That probably won't sway Democrats from a clean bill.

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Daily Digest - December 10: A Reminder That Policy Affects Human Lives

Dec 10, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Invisible Child (NYT)

Andrea Elliot reports in great depth on the life of a homeless girl in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. By placing this story in context with Mayor Bloomberg's housing and homelessness policies, she makes the effects of bad policy on human lives crystal clear.

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Invisible Child (NYT)

Andrea Elliot reports in great depth on the life of a homeless girl in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. By placing this story in context with Mayor Bloomberg's housing and homelessness policies, she makes the effects of bad policy on human lives crystal clear.

Study: U.S. Poverty Rate Decreased Over Past Half-Century Thanks to Safety-Net Programs (WaPo)

Zachary Goldfarb reports on a new study from Columbia University, which contradicts the official poverty rate significantly. The researchers traced back poverty using newer standards, and found that the safety net is particularly effective at protecting kids from poverty.

How Inequality Became as American as Apple Pie (The Nation)

Jessica Weisberg compares the concepts of inequality and mobility, ways to discuss poverty that appeal to opposite ends of the political spectrum. The right may prefer to talk about mobility, but social mobility in the U.S. is pretty terrible, which maintains inequality.

Let's Get This Straight: AIG Execs Got Bailout Bonuses, but Pensioners Get Cuts (The Guardian)

Dean Baker asks why the White House had to maintain AIG's contractual obligations during the bailout, even when it meant paying bonuses in March 2009, but Chicago can ignore its contracts to pensioners today.

Robbing Illinois's Public Employees (TAP)

David Dayen explains how pension theft has become a new norm. Public employees can no longer count on ever seeing the pension funds they negotiate for today, and the current retirees are in an even worse place, because many don't receive Social Security.

Tea Party Representative Supports Wasteful Government Program, Because YOHO (NY Mag)

Jonathan Chait says there's one clear tie among the government programs supported by Republican obstructionists: private profits. When sugar subsidies are "accepted norms," as Rep. Yoho (R-FL) said, it must be better to cut SNAP or Medicaid.

More Than Three-Quarters of Workers Missing from the Labor Force Are Under Age 55 (Working Economics)

Heidi Shierholz looks at a breakdown of "missing workers" (those who are neither employed nor looking for work) by age. Only a quarter of the missing workers could be early retirees, and the other 4.3 million will probably reenter the job market when it picks up.

New on Next New Deal

Think Global, Act Hyper-Local: Campus Network Rates Colleges on Economic and Social Impact in Their Communities

Roosevelt Institute Associate Director of Networked Initiatives Alan Smith explains a new Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network initiative, in which students will help their schools find ways to improve how they affect local communities.

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Daily Digest - November 7: Remember The Last Time Wall Street Invested in Housing?

Nov 7, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The Best City for the Next Generation of Artists Just Might Be Jackson (Atlantic Cities)

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The Best City for the Next Generation of Artists Just Might Be Jackson (Atlantic Cities)

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz continues her series on cities where Millennials can succeed. She reports on the art scene in Jackson, MI, where young creatives are taking advantage of cheap available space to try new projects.

Wall Street Slumlords’ Outrageous New Scheme: How They Could Wreck the Economy Again (Salon)

David Dayen reports on Wall Street's newest housing-based investment vehicle, which are backed by rental payments. Ratings agencies have given these securities triple-A ratings, but mortgage-backed securities had the same rating.

The One Mortgage Fix Washington Isn’t Talking About (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisenger considers the pros and cons of keeping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in government, even though policymakers are ignoring that option. He thinks it might be the simplest and most effective choice - but it's the direct opposite of current policy trends.

A Booster Shot for Social Security (In These Times)

Sarah Jaffe explains the plan some progressive Democrats are presenting to expand Social Security. They call chained CPI a tax on life itself for seniors, because it assumes people will substitute cheaper goods when possible - but health care has no substitutes.

Ten States Have Banned Cities And Counties From Passing Paid Sick Days (ThinkProgress)

Bryce Covert looks at the states that passed preemptive laws banning municipalities from enacting paid sick leave. These states apparently know better than their cities, which may want to eliminate the lost productivity that comes with sick workers on the job.

Unemployment Benefits Set To Expire For 1.3 Million At End Of Year (HuffPo)

Arthur Delaney says that Congressional patterns of cutting close to the deadline for extending federal unemployment benefits should be cause for concern again this year. With Congress's disinterest in preventing SNAP cuts, he wonders if the same could happen here.

A Hunger Expert Explains What Happens Now That Food Stamps Are Cut (WaPo)

Dylan Matthews speaks to Joel Berg of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger about how SNAP cuts will affect food-insecure Americans, and how he would structure policy around hunger. Berg thinks that benefits weren't enough before the cuts.

New Student Loan Rules Add Protections for Borrowers (NYT)

Ann Carrns explains new rules from the Department of Education meant to helped borrowers get out of default. Income-based rehabilitative payments and increased ease in requesting forbearance should make a big difference for struggling graduates.

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Daily Digest - September 23: Fishing For Solutions to Underwater Mortgages

Sep 23, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Is Richmond’s Mortgage Seizure Scheme Even Legal? (WaPo)

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Is Richmond’s Mortgage Seizure Scheme Even Legal? (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal looks at the questions raised by Richmond, CA's proposal to use eminent domain to reduce underwater mortgage debt. He argues that the plan has plenty of legal precedent, and clear benefits for the residents of Richmond.

Mike Konczal on Economic Collapse, Hugh MacMillan on Fracking Study (CounterSpin)

Mike appears on FAIR's weekly radio show to discuss what has and hasn't changed in the five years since Lehman Brothers's bankruptcy. He argues that the crisis really started in 2007, with the first wave of foreclosures on subprime mortgages.

This Week in Poverty: New Data, Same Story (and Same Dangerous House Republicans) (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann sees the latest Census data on poverty as proof that even though the needed steps in the fight against poverty are known, they aren't being implemented. Unfortunately, all the policies he wants to see are anathema to the GOP.

Jackie Speier Protests Food Stamp Cuts With Steak, Vodka, Caviar (HuffPo)

Robin Wilkey reports on Rep. Speier's speech calling out her peers who favor cutting SNAP for their excessive travel bills paid by the government. But caviar and filet must come before necessities for the poor, since the $40 billion in cuts passed.

American Bile (NYT)

Robert Reich argues that Americans are divided over many issues, but their anger comes from stagnant economic growth and widening inequality. The people who see the economy as rigged against them, whether by government or business, are the angriest.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline and Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network will join Reich for a conference call on his new film "Inequality for All" on Wednesday.

It's the Austerity, Stupid: How We Were Sold an Economy-Killing Lie (MoJo)

Kevin Drum explains how the now-infamous Reinhart and Rogoff paper on debt as a killer of economic growth kicked off the austerity regime that has reduced U.S. economic growth by as much as two percent. It's been disproved, but we're still on the austerity train.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal was one of the first to look at the UMass paper that disproved the Reinhart-Rogoff paper.

The Shutdown Showdown: What Happens Now? (MSNBC)

Kasie Hunt looks at the likely timeline for the continuing resolution now moving into the Senate, which contains language defunding the Affordable Care Act. It's expected that Harry Reid will strip out that language before the Senate passes the bill.

The Most Important Lesson the Fed Taught the World This Week (The Atlantic)

Zachary Karabell argues that the Fed's announcement of no taper for now is a reminder that there is no certainty in markets. There's no excuse for businesses using "uncertainty" as a reason to not hire, especially when they then blame government dysfunction.

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