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.

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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.

  • 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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Daily Digest - May 15: The Politics of Embracing Piketty

May 15, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Why Democrats Are Paying Attention to Piketty's Book on Inequality (Real News Network)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Tom Ferguson suggests Democrats are using Capital in the 21st Century to strengthen their inequality narrative for the midterm elections.

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Why Democrats Are Paying Attention to Piketty's Book on Inequality (Real News Network)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Tom Ferguson suggests Democrats are using Capital in the 21st Century to strengthen their inequality narrative for the midterm elections.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute President and CEO Felicia Wong says that Piketty and his peers are defining today's debate and opening new opportunities to push back on inequality.

Fast-Food Protests Spread Overseas (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse reports on today's fast food strikes in 150 U.S. cities, the largest yet, and why the organizers are working to build support and influence abroad as well.

The Merits of Participatory Budgeting (AJAM)

Bringing citizens into the decision-making process for local spending empowers them, says Hollie Russon Gilman, and builds their connection to politics more generally.

Paul Ryan's Approach To Poverty Is Straight Out Of The 19th Century (HuffPo)

Arthur Delaney looks at the anti-handout models of fighting poverty from the 1800s, which don't make sense given modern data, and finds strong similarities to Rep. Ryan's views.

The Neediest Americans Are Getting The Least Government Assistance (ThinkProgress)

Bryce Covert looks at forthcoming research that shows that since 1975, social safety net spending has shifted away from the poorest Americans to those who are more well off.

New on Next New Deal

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

To push back against the constant barrage of bad news, Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn shines a light on states that are taking proactive, positive steps on women's health.

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Daily Digest - May 14: A Victory for Workers in Vermont

May 14, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Vermont to Set Highest State Minimum Wage in the U.S. (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff reports that the Vermont legislature has voted to raise the state's minimum wage to $10.50 an hour, and the governor is expected to sign the bill soon.

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Vermont to Set Highest State Minimum Wage in the U.S. (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff reports that the Vermont legislature has voted to raise the state's minimum wage to $10.50 an hour, and the governor is expected to sign the bill soon.

I Like Jane Austen's Novels, But I Certainly Don't Want to Live Like That (HuffPo)

Heather Boushey writes that Thomas Piketty's prognosis for the economy is of particular concern for women, because if success depends on inheritance, gender equity will suffer.

Fannie-Freddie Overseer Easing Loan Buybacks (Bloomberg News)

Melvin L. Watt, head of the Federal Housing Authority, has announced new rules intended to stimulate the housing market by encouraging lending, reports Clea Benson.

SEC Peeks Under Private Equity Rug, Finds 'Remarkable' Corruption (LA Times)

Corruption in private equity firms isn't just a problem for the very rich, says Michael Hiltzik, since pension funds are among private equity's big clients.

Rebellious Economics Students Have a Point (New Yorker)

John Cassidy writes that the lack of real-world perspective in today's economics classrooms is a problem. He's particularly interested in bringing back economic history and organization.

Tim Geithner and the Paradox Behind the Government’s Crisis Response (WaPo)

In his review of the former Treasury Secretary's new book, Zachary Goldfarb considers the difficult balance between winning over public opinion and saving collapsing systems.

New on Next New Deal

Why Are Courts Allowing Redefinitions of Emergency Contraception?

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn decries the misinformation about emergency contraception that's being accepted as fact in court cases over the contraception mandate.

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

May 12, 2014Andrea Flynn

This post is the first 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 look at why conservative policies at the state level are leading to increased maternal mortality rates.

This post is the first 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 look at why conservative policies at the state level are leading to increased maternal mortality rates.

For much of the last decade, maternal mortality rates (MMRs) have declined globally. But in the United States, they have consistently increased and are now at one of the highest points in the last 25 years. If conservatives have their way with social and economic policy, it’s unlikely the U.S. will make significant strides to improve the health of mothers in the near future.

According to a report released last week in the The Lancet, the U.S. now ranks 60th out of 180 countries for maternal deaths. China is number 57. Only seven other countries experienced an increase in MMR over the past 10 years. They include Greece, Afghanistan, and South Sudan. The report estimates that for every 100,000 births, 18.5 mothers die in the U.S. By comparison, 13.5 women die in Iran, 6.1 in the United Kingdom, and only 2.4 in Iceland.

It is no coincidence that the U.S. MMR has increased as poverty rates have steadily climbed. In 2010, Amnesty International released a report that showed women living in the lowest-income areas were twice as likely to suffer a maternal death. States with high rates of poverty were found to have MMRs 77 percent higher than states with fewer residents living below the federal poverty level. Women of color have poverty rates more than double those of white women, and black women are 3-4 times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes.

The numerous factors that contribute to the high U.S. MMR are complex, as are the solutions required to effectively address the problem. However, one solution is already in place and is working. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will significantly improve maternal health by mandating coverage of pre-natal, maternity, and post-partum care in all insurance plans. But some of the women in greatest need will remain uninsured and at increased risk because of the refusal of 21 states to expand Medicaid. Many of those states have among the nation’s highest rates of poverty and maternal mortality.

Expanding Medicaid would save women’s lives. A 2010 study conducted in New York City showed that the MMR for women with no insurance was approximately four times higher than for insured women, and that the rate for women insured by Medicaid was comparable to that of women with private insurance.

Many states have higher Medicaid eligibility limits that enable pregnant women with incomes above the standard Medicaid threshold to receive coverage. However, that coverage does not begin until women are already pregnant, and it is often terminated soon after their babies are born. This short coverage period leaves women uninsured for much of their lives and places them at higher risk for health problems that can lead to complications during and after pregnancy. Following implementation of the ACA, some states reduced eligibility limits for pregnant women, and loopholes in other states will leave many women without coverage during this critical time. Expanding Medicaid would provide continuous coverage for women whose incomes exclude them from the program and who do not qualify for subsidized insurance through the exchanges.

Despite the maternal health crisis unfolding in many states, conservative state lawmakers stand firm in their refusal to expand Medicaid, even though the federal government will cover 100 percent of the cost for the first three years and a minimum of 90 percent thereafter. Some states, like Georgia, are so intent on undermining the ACA that they have passed laws to prevent state employees from advocating for expansion and have made it more difficult for people who already qualify for Medicaid to enroll.

Conservatives do not have plans to solve this crisis. In fact, their plans will only make it worse. Family planning cuts and abortion restrictions in places like Texas have shuttered women’s health clinics and obliterated the health infrastructure on which poor women relied for their basic needs. And while many women and their families are still reeling from the recession, cuts to safety net programs like food stamps have led to greater insecurity in health, income, and food than ever before.

Last week’s Lancet report is a stark reminder that women suffer heavy casualties in the partisan battles raging in states across the country. But what we are witnessing today is more than a nasty game of politics: it is a violation of women’s human rights. We should be ashamed and outraged.

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

Image via Thinkstock

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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 - May 9: Higher Taxes on the Rich Are Nothing to Fear

May 9, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Now That’s Rich (NYT)

With so much wealth now concentrated among a small financial elite, writes Paul Krugman, we should set aside fears that higher taxes would punish workers and job creators.

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Now That’s Rich (NYT)

With so much wealth now concentrated among a small financial elite, writes Paul Krugman, we should set aside fears that higher taxes would punish workers and job creators.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz spoke to the Senate Budget Committee about how policy, like higher taxes, could address inequality. His testimony was based on a forthcoming Roosevelt Institute paper.

People Don’t Vote With Their Feet When it Comes to Taxes, Report Finds (WaPo)

Niraj Chokshi reports on a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study, which found that interstate moves, which are rare to begin with, have almost nothing to do with income taxes.

Warren and Allies Said to Reject Fannie Mae Overhaul Bill (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Six Democratic senators have decided this plan to replace government-owned mortgage firms is unworkable, reports Cheyenne Hopkins, and without them it's unlikely to pass.

Unions Warn Obama on Walmart Visit (WSJ)

Jeffrey Sparshott reports that labor groups are unhappy with the president's planned talk about energy efficiency at a Walmart. They suggest another topic: income inequality.

Janet Yellen's Favorite Phrase, Explained (Vox)

Danielle Kurtzleben notes that Yellen often refers to labor market "slack," which means people want work but can't find jobs. Yellen's concern is how the Fed can address that problem.

Rand Paul Clearly Doesn't Understand Why the Economy's Still Struggling (TNR)

Danny Vinik writes that the real problem in the economy is low demand for goods and services. Cutting spending won't solve that problem, but full employment would.

New on Next New Deal

Collaborative Democracy in Action: The Summer of Rethinking Communities

Alan Smith, Roosevelt Institute Associate Director of Networked Initiatives, writes that students across the country are asking how their schools can better support local communities.

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Daily Digest - May 8: More Questions Than Answers for the Federal Reserve

May 8, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Bernie Sanders Asks Fed Chair Whether the US Is an Oligarchy (The Nation)

John Nichols says Yellen did not directly answer the senator's question, but she expressed concerns about growing inequality and how it shapes participation in democracy.

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Bernie Sanders Asks Fed Chair Whether the US Is an Oligarchy (The Nation)

John Nichols says Yellen did not directly answer the senator's question, but she expressed concerns about growing inequality and how it shapes participation in democracy.

Yellen Won’t Be Pinned Down on Plans (NYT)

During her testimony to Congress yesterday, the Federal Reserve chair avoided giving specific timetables for Fed policy even when pressed, reports Binyamin Appelbaum.

  • Roosevelt Take: Before she became Fed chair, Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal praised Yellen for her work leading the way on monetary policy.

Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage Agreement: Collective Bargaining Reborn? (TAP)

Harold Meyerson suggests that the Seattle minimum wage plan could create a new model for collective bargaining outside of unions that still involves businesses and labor groups.

Largest Fast Food Strike Yet Will Include Rallies on 6 Continents (MSNBC)

The fast food workers movement continues to grow, reports Ned Resnikoff, with strikes planned on May 15 in 150 cities nationally and solidarity rallies planned abroad.

  • Roosevelt Take: Harmony Goldberg, the Program Manager for the Roosevelt Institute's Future of Work Initiative, looks at another major issue facing fast food workers: wage theft.

Welfare Photos Shame Shoppers as States Target Abuses (Bloomberg)

Mark Niquette writes that photos on benefit cards may be meant to stop fraud, but they're increasing costs and potentially dissuading people from getting the benefits they need.

Lies, Lives and Obamacare Statistics (U.S. News & World Report)

The simple fact that the GOP ignores about Obamacare is that access to health insurance actually saves lives, says Pat Garofalo. That fact makes repeal hard to swallow.

Even Millionaires Think The Rich Should Pay Higher Taxes (HuffPo)

Robert Frank reports on a CNBC survey of millionaires, which shows that they agree that inequality is a problem, though their proposed solutions split along party lines.

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Daily Digest - May 6: Will the Robin Hood Tax Hit the Mark?

May 6, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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The Most Popular Tax in History Has Real Momentum (The Nation)

Katrina vanden Heuvel, a member of the Roosevelt Institute's Board of Directors, says that if Europe's "Robin Hood" tax is successfully implemented, it could boost efforts to implement a financial transactions tax in the U.S.

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The Most Popular Tax in History Has Real Momentum (The Nation)

Katrina vanden Heuvel, a member of the Roosevelt Institute's Board of Directors, says that if Europe's "Robin Hood" tax is successfully implemented, it could boost efforts to implement a financial transactions tax in the U.S.

Which States Are Givers and Which Are Takers? (The Atlantic)

Maps depicting states' reliance on federal funding lead John Tierney to ask whether the framework of givers and takers is useful, or whether we should instead focus on how the government creates an American community.

Blackstone Unit Invitation Homes Sued Over Rental House's Condition (LA Times)

Amid concerns about investment firms' ability to properly maintain the thousands of rental homes they've acquired, Andrew Khouri reports on one family's lawsuit over a slum-like house.

Gallup: Uninsured Rate Is Lowest We've Ever Recorded (TNR)

Jonathan Cohn reports on a new poll from Gallup, which has been asking whether people have health insurance since 2008. He warns that this isn't proof that more are getting health care, but it's a good start.

Millennials Have Stopped Trusting the Government (Vox)

Andrew Prokop breaks down a new survey by Harvard's Institute of Politics, which shows Millennials' decreasing trust in government over the past few years. Their biggest concern is unsurprising: the economy.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Vice President of Networks Taylor Jo Isenberg introduces the Campus Network's 2014 10 Ideas series, featuring top policy proposals from students across the country who still see ways for government to create a better world.

Nutter to Sign Minimum Wage Executive Order (Philadelphia Inquirer)

The Philadelphia mayor is following President Obama's lead, reports Claudia Vargas, by requiring a higher minimum wage in city contracts and subcontracts.

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Daily Digest - May 5: Yes, the Haves Still Have Most of It

May 5, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Is Net Neutrality Dead? (Bill Moyers)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford says FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is prioritizing political expediency over a real solution to the problem of net neutrality, such as declaring the Internet a utility.

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Is Net Neutrality Dead? (Bill Moyers)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford says FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is prioritizing political expediency over a real solution to the problem of net neutrality, such as declaring the Internet a utility.

Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist? (All In with Chris Hayes)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren discusses the ways that racial attitudes, which are different from racist behaviors, impact policy. 

Inequality Has Been Going On Forever ... but That Doesn’t Mean It’s Inevitable (NYT)

Inequality could be turned back, writes David Leonhardt and improving education might be an easier route than French economist Thomas Piketty's much-discussed suggestion of a global wealth tax.

Why the Jobs Report Isn’t All Good (The Nation)

George Zornick says that until the jobs report from the survey of households is just as positive as the one from the survey of businesses, Americans shouldn't be assured there's been economic growth.

Mary Jo White Doesn't Scare Anybody (TNR)

Alec MacGillis writes that while President Obama framed his choice for new chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission as a push back on Wall Street, in fact White's regulatory approach has been lacking.

New on Next New Deal

The Minimum Wage Index: Why the GOP's Filibuster Will Hurt Workers

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch lays out the numbers that show how raising the minimum wage is necessary for today's economy.

Cliven Bundy's Window into the War on the Poor

Cliven Bundy's description of the social safety net as a form of slavery reflects a common conservative ideology of poverty as personal failing, writes Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn. That framework enables the GOP's push to dismantle the safety net.

No More Sterlings: It's Time for Communities to Take Ownership of Their Sports Teams

Alan Smith, Roosevelt Institute's Associate Director of Networked Initiatives, writes that a fan-owned Los Angeles Clippers could be a model of how a sports team could truly support its community.as an anchor institution. 

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The Minimum Wage Index: Why the GOP's Filibuster Will Hurt Workers

May 2, 2014Richard Kirsch

Opponents of a higher minimum wage claim it would have a negative impact on the economy and workers. The numbers tell a different story.

Opponents of a higher minimum wage claim it would have a negative impact on the economy and workers. The numbers tell a different story.

This week, a minority of United States senators blocked a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from coming to a vote, overruling the 54 senators who supported the bill. If the bill had passed, it would have been only the fourth time the minimum wage was raised in the last 30 years. The Republicans who led this filibuster effort will claim a higher minimum wage would hurt the economy, but don’t let them fool you: American workers are the ones left hurting as a result of their actions. Here are the real dollars and cents of the minimum wage debate.

$7.25: The current federal minimum wage, established in 2007.

725%: The increase in CEO compensation from 1978 to 2011.

$10.86: How much the federal minimum wage would be if it had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years.

$21.72: How much the federal minimum wage would be if it had kept up with productivity since 1968.

$16.62: The hourly wage needed to meet the basic needs of an average person.

$32.19: The hourly wage needed to meet the basic needs of one adult with two children in Philadelphia.

$2.13: The federal minimum wage for tipped employees, established in 1991.

$5,915,186: Average net worth of U.S. Senators who blocked a vote on the minimum wage. 

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.

Image via Thinkstock

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