Daily Digest - October 14: Americans Are Too Vulnerable to Downward Mobility

Oct 14, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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The Age of Vulnerability (Project Syndicate)

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The Age of Vulnerability (Project Syndicate)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz points out that inequality isn't just about lack of upward mobility, but also risk of downward mobility, and the U.S. economy has made people particularly vulnerable.

The Score: Does the Minimum Wage Kill Jobs? (The Nation)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert say the answer is probably no; for one, the states that have raised their minimum wage this year are experiencing higher employment growth.

In Texas and Across the Nation, Abortion Access is a Sign of Women's Well-Being (The Hill)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn and Shulie Eisen connect access to abortion with the larger picture of women's health and economics. States that limit abortion don't do well on related issues either.

Youth Convention Gathers Crowds, Pols Over Brutality, Employment, Immigration, Ed and Transport (The Youth Project)

Jason Mast reports on the NextGen Illinois conference, profiling a few of the student organizers who are pursuing political change in their state now instead of waiting until they're older.

Revenge of the Unforgiven (NYT)

Paul Krugman says an excess of virtue surrounding debt is killing economic growth. Forgiving more debt would increase the other spending needed to kick-start the economy.

Them That's Got Shall Get (TAP)

Nathalie Baptiste follows up on the impact of the foreclosure crisis on black family wealth, focusing on the wealthiest black community in the country: Prince George's County, Maryland.

‘Citizens United’ is Turning More Americans into Bystanders (WaPo)

E.J. Dionne argues that massive independent political spending is turning voters off, as it deepens our divisions and the sense that no one will work together after the election.

New on Next New Deal

Does the USA Really Soak the Rich?

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal says that recent arguments against more progressive taxation use a nonsensical definition in which inequality drives up tax progressivity.

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Daily Digest - October 10: Feminists Leading the Charge in Global Development

Oct 10, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

Please note: There will not be a new Daily Digest on Monday, October 13, in observance of Indigenous People's Day. The Daily Digest will return on Tuesday, October 14.

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Please note: There will not be a new Daily Digest on Monday, October 13, in observance of Indigenous People's Day. The Daily Digest will return on Tuesday, October 14.

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Connected Feminism Shows A Muscular Commitment To Change - And Civil Rights (Forbes)

Tom Watson reflects on the Women and Girls Rising conference, praising it for demonstrating the power of feminism in the development world today.

Change in Derivatives Doesn’t Resolve Question of Safe Harbors (NYT)

Stephen J. Lubben says that a change in bankruptcy laws so that other investors can be pulled into proceedings when one goes bankrupt doesn't go far enough.

  • Roosevelt Take: Lubben wrote a chapter in An Unfinished Mission, the Roosevelt Institute and Americans for Financial Reform's report on the questions that remain in financial reform post-Dodd-Frank.

After Huge Tax Incentive Package, Boeing Still Ships Jobs out of Washington (WaPo)

Boeing's tax incentive package was the largest any state had ever offered any one company, writes Reid Wilson, but that has not prevented Boeing from relocating a few thousand jobs.

  • Roosevelt Take: Washington's Boeing workers are largely unionized, and Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch praised them for rejecting a contract that harmed newer and younger workers last year.

From Lagging 'Job Creation' to Lower Charity Giving, the Wealthy Give Less Back to Society (The Guardian)

Suzanne McGee questions why the wealthiest Americans give the lowest percentage of their income to charity, when presumably they have enough funds to do more.

Voter ID Laws Cut Turnout By Blacks, Young (HuffPo)

Alan Fram reports on a new study by the Government Accountability Office, which shows steep drops in turnout in states with new voter ID laws.

Supreme Court Blocks Wisconsin's Voter ID Law (USA Today)

With this emergency stay and a related decision by a district court judge in Texas, some of the most restrictive voter ID laws will not be in effect this November, says Richard Wolf.

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Obama Administration Defends Amazon’s Low Pay – Again

Oct 9, 2014Richard Kirsch

It's hard for workers to trust the President's support for policies that help them when the administration sides with Amazon at the Supreme Court.

Amazon’s business model is based on quick easy buying and low prices. One way it does that is to force its warehouse workers to wait a long time to leave work, without getting paid. And that’s just fine with the Obama administration, which continues to have a blind spot when it comes to decent pay and working conditions at Amazon.

It's hard for workers to trust the President's support for policies that help them when the administration sides with Amazon at the Supreme Court.

Amazon’s business model is based on quick easy buying and low prices. One way it does that is to force its warehouse workers to wait a long time to leave work, without getting paid. And that’s just fine with the Obama administration, which continues to have a blind spot when it comes to decent pay and working conditions at Amazon.

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard a case (Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk) in which workers are suing the temp firm that staff’s Amazon warehouses. The workers are in court because they don’t get paid for the time they are forced to stand on line for a security check when they leave work to be sure they haven’t stolen anything. The security screening itself reveals the poor working conditions and lack of respect that Amazon has for its workers. Workers who are well paid and have job security will not take the risk of stealing. The lack of pay adds costly insult to their injury.

The legal issues revolve around whether the security screenings, which can take 20 minutes or more, are “integral and indispensable” to the job, which would trigger pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Amazon certainly thinks so; the screenings aren’t optional. Still the firm, which pays warehouse workers around $11 or $12 an hour, cheaps out by denying the workers pay when they are waiting on line to leave.

As Jesse Busk, the lead plaintiff in the case, told The Huffington Post, "You're just standing there, and everyone wants to get home. It was not comfortable. There could be hundreds of people waiting at the end of the shift."

While President Obama has made numerous passionate speeches about giving Americans a raise, his administration is taking Amazon’s side at the Supreme Court, filing an amicus brief, alongside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business lobbies.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing new about this from the administration. Last August, as I wrote at the time, “President Obama gave a great speech on why good jobs are the foundation for his middle-out economic strategy... from a huge Amazon warehouse where the workers do not have good jobs.”

The President told the Amazon warehouse workers who were in the audience, “we should be doing everything we can as a country to create more good jobs that pay good wages.”

Everything, it turns out, except being sure they get paid for all the time they are required to be at work.

The Obama administration may wonder why the President does not get more credit for the economic progress the nation has made coming out of the Great Recession or more recognition for his calls for raising the minimum wage. The core reason is that for too many Americans too low wages, too few hours at work, and job insecurity or no job at all remain their reality.

The President’s defense of Amazon reveals another reason. Americans see that he is unwilling to take on the powerful forces that are driving down the living standards and hopes of American workers. They see his embrace of Amazon and Wal-Mart, where he gave a speech on energy earlier this year. And too many come to the conclusion that it is only campaign contributors that matter, despairing of finding leaders who understand what really is going on in their lives – and who are willing to take their side against the powerful.

Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a Senior Adviser to USAction, and the author of Fighting for Our Health. He was National Campaign Manager of Health Care for America Now during the legislative battle to pass reform.

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Daily Digest - October 6: Despite New Rules, Corporations Still Seek Tax Loopholes

Oct 6, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Are Obama's New Corporate Tax Rules Working? (Melissa Harris-Perry)

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Are Obama's New Corporate Tax Rules Working? (Melissa Harris-Perry)

As guest host, Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren moderates a discussion of corporations' attempts to dodge paying taxes through loopholes like inversion.

Unemployment is Finally Under 6 Percent, But Don’t Expect a Raise Anytime Soon (WaPo)

Matt O'Brien says that while the September jobs report was solid, continued "shadow unemployment" and low wage growth will keep the Fed from increasing interest rates just yet.

Facebook’s Bus Drivers Seek Union (NYT)

The drivers who shuttle Facebook employees to their Silicon Valley offices, unhappy with their low pay and difficult split shift schedule, are seeking to unionize through the Teamsters, writes Steven Greenhouse.

The U.S. Has a Jobs Crisis. Here's How to Fix It (The Guardian)

Heidi Moore speaks to four experts – two politicians and two economists – about the best ways to solve the jobs crisis. Common themes include immigration reform and a minimum wage hike.

Huh? Walmart Foundation Battles Hunger As Walmart Workers Turn to Food Stamps (Inside Philanthropy)

David Callahan critiques Walmart for its big charitable push to solve hunger when it has been widely documented that its own workers are relying on the social safety net to eat.

U.S. Restaurant Patrons Support Minimum Wage Hike (Reuters)

Lisa Baertlein contrasts the restaurant industry's lobbying against raising the minimum wage with a new survey that shows broad support for a higher wage among its customers.

New on Next New Deal

A Crisis Turned Catastrophe in Texas

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn explains how the latest court decision on Texas's anti-abortion laws will bring Texas women's access to reproductive health care to the brink of disaster.

The Big Mistake in President Obama’s Economic Pivot: Overlooking the Grassroots

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network National Director Joelle Gamble says the President would be better served by focusing on local rather than federal initiatives to improve the economy.

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Daily Digest - October 3: Will the Senate Deny Minimum Wage to Home Care Workers?

Oct 3, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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GOP Senators: Don’t Raise Home Care Worker Wages (The Hill)

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GOP Senators: Don’t Raise Home Care Worker Wages (The Hill)

Ramsey Cox reports that this group of Senators claims giving home care workers minimum wage is unaffordable because of increased costs for Medicaid.

S.F., Oakland at Forefront of U.S. Minimum Wage Movement (SF Chronicle)

A proposition on the ballot this November will raise San Francisco's minimum wage to $15 an hour by July 2018, and it's expected to pass by wide margins, writes John Coté.

Americans Have No Idea How the Government Spends Money (WaPo)

Christopher Ingraham reports on a quiz given by the Pew Research Center. The results show that a third of Americans incorrectly think the government spends more on foreign aid than Social Security.

What to Watch on Jobs Day: Nominal Wages, Teacher Gap, and Upward Revisions (Working Economics)

Elise Gould explains why these three data points will be her focus in analyzing the jobs report, and says this month is a good time to look at the teacher gap to see whether public education jobs have bounced back.

People Who Warned the Fed Are Very Smart and Very Wrong (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Peter Coy looks back at a 2010 letter from a group of economists to the Federal Reserve, which warned against quantitative easing. He shares some of the writers' explanations for their incorrect predictions.

Poverty Isn't Just About Not Having Much; It's About Never Knowing How Much You're Going to Have (Vox)

Danielle Kurtzleben looks at data on the vast swings in monthly income that low-to-moderate-income households experience, which make it nearly impossible to plan ahead.

Chart: The Typical White Family Is 20 Times Wealthier Than the Typical Black Family (Mother Jones)

Dave Gilson explains that while the income gap between white and Black households is significant, the wealth gap is even greater – and it's the wealth gap that sustains generational inequality.

 

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Daily Digest - September 18: The Hashtag of Democracy

Sep 18, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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From #Ferguson to #OfficerFriendly (Bloomberg View)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford explains what the New York Police Department will need to do in order to make its new social media initiatives successful.

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From #Ferguson to #OfficerFriendly (Bloomberg View)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford explains what the New York Police Department will need to do in order to make its new social media initiatives successful.

Census Report Shows Rise in Full-Time Work, Undercutting Claims by Health Reform Opponents (Off the Charts)

Paul N. Van de Water says the Census Bureau report proves that the Affordable Care Act isn't leading to a large increase in part-time work. In fact, part-time work has decreased.

Fed Signals No Hurry to Raise Interest Rates (NYT)

Binyamin Appelbaum reports on the Federal Reserve's latest policy statement, which affirms the necessity of continued stimulus in the form of near-zero short-term interest rates.

What Cutting Jobless Benefits Wrought (U.S. News & World Report)

Pat Garofalo points to the cutting of federal extended unemployment benefits as one of the sources of our continually too-high poverty rate.

The Occupy Movement Takes on Student Debt (New Yorker)

Rolling Jubilee, which buys up debt and cancels it, may be among the Occupy movement's biggest successes, writes Vauhini Vara, but its real hope is for debtors to organize.

Meet the Domestic Worker Organizer Who Won the 'Genius' Grant (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Josh Eidelson profiles Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, who plans to use her MacArthur "Genius Grant" to endow an organizing fellowship for domestic workers.

Want to Live in a State with No Income Tax? Make Sure You're Super Rich First (The Guardian)

Siri Srinivas looks at a new report on state-level taxes, which shows that most Americans think fair taxes should be progressive by nature, emphasizing income and property taxes over sales tax.

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Daily Digest - September 10: Could a Left-Wing Tea Party Unite Progressives?

Sep 10, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Why We Need a Left Wing Tea Party (The Daily Beast)

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Why We Need a Left Wing Tea Party (The Daily Beast)

Sally Kohn calls on progressive factions to follow the Tea Party's lead and throw all their weight behind uncompromising candidates who are strong on every progressive issue.

Labor Market Unchanged According to July Job Openings Data (EPI)

Comparing job openings data to unemployment, Elise Gould points out that over half of the unemployed were not going to find work in July no matter what they did, because the jobs don't exist.

Government Debt Isn't the Problem—Private Debt Is (The Atlantic)

Richard Vague writes that financial crises can be tied to too-high and rapidly growing private debt, which means policy solutions need to focus on debt relief for low- and middle-income people.

Were Fast-Food Workers Paid to Strike and Protest? (The Guardian)

The answer is no, writes Jana Kasperkevic. That rumor is a corruption of the union strike fund, a pool set aside to help pay for striking workers' arrest fines and lost wages.

Warren Faults Banking Regulators for Lack of Criminal Prosecutions (WSJ)

While Senator Warren focused on the Federal Reserve, Senator Shelby blamed the DoJ for seeking fines instead of jail time for banking executives, report Ryan Tracy and Victoria McGrane.

Want to Fix the Jobs Crisis? Build a Federally Funded Worker Education Infrastructure (TAP)

Good job training programs – the kind that see both students and employers as clients – can be highly successful, writes Paul Osterman, but they're small and difficult to scale up.

The OECD’s Latest Report is Burdened by Economic Myths (AJAM)

Philip Pilkington says that until economic policymakers stop assuming that economies rebalance themselves and that high government debt is the real problem, good policy change is unlikely.

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Daily Digest - August 27: The Known Unknowns of Unemployment

Aug 27, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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A New Reason to Question the Official Unemployment Rate (NYT)

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A New Reason to Question the Official Unemployment Rate (NYT)

A new report says that unemployment data has become less accurate over the past 20 years, in part because of declining survey response rates, writes David Leonhardt.

Objecting to Austerity, French Style (New Yorker)

John Cassidy looks at the implosion of the French government this week, as three ministers, including the economy minister, have been pushed out for their objection to austerity policies.

Money for Nothing: Mincome Experiment Could Pay Dividends 40 Years On (AJAM)

Recently analyzed data from a 1970s Canadian experiment in guaranteed basic income shows far-reaching benefits in health and education, writes Benjamin Shingler.

Companies Say ‘No Way’ to ‘Say on Pay’ (WSJ)

Emily Chasan examines the companies that have repeatedly failed Say-on-Pay shareholder votes on their executives' pay packages, and what they have in common.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Holmberg looks at how Say-on-Pay can curb sky-high executive compensation.

SEIU Wins Election To Represent Minnesota Home Care Workers (HuffPo)

Dave Jamieson says that yesterday's vote, which created Minnesota's largest public-sector bargaining unit in history, shows that unions are not letting Harris v. Quinn slow organizing.

Burger King’s Supremely American Habit (MSNBC)

Timothy Noah points out that Burger King, which might be planning an inversion to avoid U.S. corporate income taxes, already pushes as many costs as possible off its parent company.

Mayor Garcetti Pitching New Minimum Wage Plan to Business Groups (LA Times)

Catherine Saillant reports on business opposition to the Los Angeles mayor's plan, which would raise the city's minimum wage to $13.50 over three years and then tie it to local inflation.

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Daily Digest - August 26: Corporations Shouldn't Get a Free Pass on Tax-Dodging

Aug 26, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Cutting the Corporate Tax Would Make Other Problems Grow (NYT)

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Cutting the Corporate Tax Would Make Other Problems Grow (NYT)

Jared Bernstein counters recent suggestions for eliminating the U.S. corporate income tax by pointing out the extreme difficulty of capturing that revenue through personal income taxes.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz proposes more viable reforms to the corporate income tax.

Stigmatizing Poor Kids in Our Public Schools (PolicyShop)

Matt Bruenig suggests that free lunch at school is the target of so much ire because it's seen as a "poor people thing," even though public schools are themselves a welfare program.

When Workplace Training Programs Actually Hinder Workers (The Nation)

The low-structure, free-choice-based model of the Workforce Investment Act limits its effectiveness, writes Michelle Chen, since it doesn't allow for prioritizing funding for the best training programs.

Another GOP State May Be Signing up for Medicaid, and the Reason is Obvious (LA Times)

Michael Hiltzik says the money being left on the table is finally proving enough to get Republican governors like Wyoming's to push for Medicaid expansion even though it's part of Obamacare.

Back to School, and to Widening Inequality (Robert Reich)

Kids who live in poor neighborhoods are at a disadvantage when it comes to school funding, writes Robert Reich, so economic inequality hobbles these students from an early age.

Central Banks to Lawmakers: You Try Growing the Economy (WaPo)

Ylan Q. Mui reports that the general attitude coming out of the annual Jackson Hole gathering was that monetary policy can only do so much, and legislatures need to step it up.

Cities Can Ease Homelessness With Storage Units (City Lab)

Kriston Capps looks at an innovative program in San Diego that creates stability by providing homeless people with transitional storage where they can safely leave their belongings each day.

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Daily Digest - August 25: The Mortgage Crisis, Act 2

Aug 25, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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You Thought the Mortgage Crisis Was Over? It's About to Flare Up Again (TNR)

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You Thought the Mortgage Crisis Was Over? It's About to Flare Up Again (TNR)

With a large number of mortgage relief measures scheduled to end in the coming year, David Dayen says that many foreclosures will seem as though they were only deferred from 2008.

Why the Robots Might Not Take Our Jobs After All: They Lack Common Sense (NYT)

Neil Irwin reports on MIT labor scholar David Autor's new paper, which argues that robots can't handle common-sense decision making, so they'll only be able to replace certain kinds of jobs.

  • Roosevelt Take: Autor presented a version of this scenario in his video speculation for the Next American Economy project.

Middle Class is Excluded from America's Economic 'Recovery' (The Guardian)

Heidi Moore points out that the recovery isn't much of one for most Americans, and the economists who gathered in Jackson Hole this weekend can't do much to fix that.

Fed Chair Cautious on Timing of Rate Rises, Questions Health of Job Market (AJAM)

Janet Yellen's first speech at the Jackson Hole conference defended her approach, arguing that caution is still needed because the long-term effects of the recession aren't yet clear.

Could America Accept Another FDR? (WaPo)

Fred Hiatt wonders whether modern political discourse and journalism would permit another person like Franklin D. Roosevelt, with his illness and complicated family, to make it to the White House.

Middle Class Households' Wealth Fell 35 Percent from 2005 to 2011 (Vox)

Danielle Kurtzleben reports on new data from the Census Bureau, which shows a dramatic change in U.S. households' net worth, particularly for the bottom three quintiles.

New on Next New Deal

The Ferguson Challenge to the Libertarians

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal says the profit-motivated criminal justice system in Ferguson, heavy on court fees and fines, looks a lot like the libertarian ideal of privatization – and it isn't working.

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