Daily Digest - July 9: America's Workers Need a Vacation

Jul 9, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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America Gets Summer Vacation All Wrong (U.S. News & World Report)

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America Gets Summer Vacation All Wrong (U.S. News & World Report)

Pat Garofalo points out the dissonance between long summer vacations for students, which lead to learning losses, and the United States' lack of paid vacation time for workers.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Director of Operations Sarah Pfeifer Vandekerckhove and Policy Intern Candace Richardson look at possible solutions to low-income students' summer learning losses.

Buying a Home: The American Dream That Won’t Die (MSNBC)

Suzy Khimm looks at post-housing crisis options for low-income would-be homeowners. Opportunities are limited, and there is continued discrimination against minorities seeking mortgages.

Democrats Push Bill to Reverse Supreme Court Ruling on Contraceptives (NYT)

The bill could hit the Senate floor as early as next week, reports Robert Pear, but it faces long odds in the House, since Speaker Boehner approves of the Hobby Lobby decision.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn explains how the Hobby Lobby and McCullen rulings increase the barriers to women accessing health care.

Corporate Tax Scam Watch: The 'Inversion' Craze (LA Times)

Michael Hiltzik explains why companies look to "inversions," corporate restructuring in a foreign country, to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, and considers possible remedies.

NFL Cheerleaders Got An Early Advantage In Their Lawsuit Against The Buffalo Bills (Business Insider)

A judge said the evidence supports the Buffalo cheerleaders' claim that they are employees of the NFL team, reports Allan Smith, which allows their wage theft case to move forward.

New on Next New Deal

Detroit's Revitalization Funds Could Re-Empower Residents, Too

Roosevelt Summer Academy Fellow Dominic Rushe lays out one way Detroit could introduce participatory budgeting, allowing citizens to help decide where community development funds are most needed.

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Graduated and Living With Your Parents? You May Be Luckier Than You Think.

Jul 3, 2014Lydia Bowers

Millennials who are being forced to move back home may have their economic futures determined by the affluence of their birthplace rather than their own ability.

Millennials who are being forced to move back home may have their economic futures determined by the affluence of their birthplace rather than their own ability.

If you could live in Westchester County, NY or Logan County, OH, which would you choose? What if you were young, college-educated, and just entering the workforce? Recent articles about the return of college-educated Millennials, “the boomerang generation," to their parents' homes focus on how income inequality has contributed to the phenomenon overall. But what is critically overlooked is how this situation stratifies inequality within the Millennial generation and reinforces generational economic privilege.

Compare Sarah and Jess. Both graduated from Notre Dame University in 2013 with degrees in English. Both have similar GPAs and campus activities, and as graduation neared, neither was able to find a job. But what makes them different is that after graduation, Sarah moved back in with her parents in Westchester County while Jess moved home to Logan County.  Westchester County has a per capita income of $48,385, an opportunity score (an aggregated score measuring the educational attainment, economic strength, and community health of a town or county) of A-, and is located within easy commuting distance of New York City – a major metropolitan hub with over 8 million residents that provides ample opportunity for job-hunting. Logan County has a significantly lower per capita income of $22,993, and an opportunity score of C+. The nearest metropolitan hub, Columbus, is over an hour away, requiring a burdensome commute for job-hunting. These two women, who were nearly indistinguishable on paper at graduation, have profoundly different economic outlooks after moving home.

Let's imagine both women have the national average amount of student loan debt, $24,301, averaging out to payments of $279.66 a month for the next 10 years. And let's be generous and assume both women are lucky enough to find jobs in their fields at the median per capita income for their respective towns. Sarah, with almost twice the income of Jess, is able to double her monthly loan payments, becoming debt-free five years earlier than Jess and saving over $4,000 in interest. This puts Sarah on the path to financial stability much sooner.

A college degree used to be a ticket out of a predetermined economic destiny based on your location of birth. In a country where the likelihood that a child raised in the bottom fifth income level will rise to the top fifth can range from 4 percent to 25 percent depending on county of residence, college was traditionally viewed as the equalizer – a chance to escape the economic limitations of your hometown. But, for the one-in-five people in their 20s and early 30s currently living with parents, this is no longer the case. With the rising costs of rent in almost every major metropolitan area, many unemployed or underemployed college graduates will find moving home their only option. And if they are fortunate to have a home in an economically robust area, they will have leverage over their counterparts elsewhere. And as most children who come from economically robust areas come from financially privileged families, this is an example of income inequality growing starker through generational privilege.

College graduates aren’t looking for special treatment, but simply the chance to define their own economic destiny. Policies that work in tandem to address the rise in student loan debt, the affordability of housing in urban areas, and the economic growth needed to create jobs for young graduates are part of the solution. But ultimately, we need to address inequality and acknowledge that for some graduates opportunity is not based on potential but hometown. And that a familial zip code matters more than personal ability should be a rallying cry for anyone concerned about the future of a country once viewed as the "land of opportunity” for all.

Lydia Bowers is Operations Director for the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network.

Image via Thinkstock

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Daily Digest - June 30: Inequality is a Choice We Can Stop Making

Jun 30, 2014Tim Price

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Inequality Is Not Inevitable (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that policies and politics have created America's economic divide, and only engaged citizens can fix it.

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Inequality Is Not Inevitable (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that policies and politics have created America's economic divide, and only engaged citizens can fix it.

  • Roosevelt Take: For more on Stiglitz's plan to address inequality, read his Roosevelt Institute white paper on tax reform.

How Cities Can Take on Big Cable (Bloomberg View)

The Federal Communications Commission should preempt state laws that ban cities from building competitive fiber networks, writes Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford.

Public Sector Unions Could Radically Change This Week (WaPo)

Today's Supreme Court decision on Harris v. Quinn could seriously weaken public employee unions if their compulsory dues are ruled unconstitutional, notes Lydia DePillis.

Will the Government Finally Regulate the Most Predatory Industry in America? (The Nation)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering new rules to protect the 12 million Americans a year who rely on high-interest payday lenders, reports Zoe Carpenter.

Why This Company Decided to Make Its Salaries Public to All Employees (Think Progress)

The CEO of data analytics company SumAll tells Bryce Covert that increased pay transparency has led to greater productivity and trust and less stress over compensation.

What Americans Think of the Poor (Prospect)

A new Pew poll shows that even many conservatives who agree that "poor people have it easy" also believe the economic system is unfair, writes Paul Waldman.

New on Next New Deal

Summer Vacation is Feeding the Achievement Gap

Students from low-income families face substantial setbacks without access to summer learning programs, write Roosevelt Institute Director of Operations Sarah Pfeifer Vandekerckhove and policy intern Candace Richardson.

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Summer Vacation is Feeding the Achievement Gap

Jun 27, 2014Sarah Pfeifer VandekerckhoveCandace Richardson

Learning loss during summer vacation is far worse for students of lower socioeconomic status, making low-cost and free educational summer programming essential.

Learning loss during summer vacation is far worse for students of lower socioeconomic status, making low-cost and free educational summer programming essential.

New York City public schools begin summer break today. For many students, summer is a time to rest, travel and play, and a recent study even demonstrates the critical role of play in a student’s future academic and financial success. But extensive research shows that these few months away from the structured activities of school are particularly detrimental to the academic achievement of students of low SES (socioeconomic status) families. Without access and exposure to educational enrichment opportunities during the summer months, these students face substantial setbacks in their academic development.

Of course, all students experience some learning loss during the summer months. Research on the “summer slide” phenomenon shows that nearly all students perform worse on standardized tests taken at the end of summer vacation than the same test taken at the end of the previous school year and lose two months of math skills over the summer months.

For low SES students, however, summer slide does even greater damage to their academic achievement year over year, increasing the achievement gap as well as the likelihood that such students will drop out of high school or not attend college. Summer slide occurring during elementary school alone contributes to at least half of the SES achievement gap by the time students reach 9th grade.  In fact, low SES high school students are eight times less likely to attend a four-year college, compared with their high SES peers.

While only about 20% of students from low-income families participate in summer learning programs, high-income families can afford to expose their children to a variety of enrichment activities, including summer camp. In February, TimeOut published a list of upcoming academic summer camps in New York City that offer exciting sessions on robots, chemistry, reading, and math along with many educational field trips to museums and zoos, with the average cost of these camps totaling $2,176 per month.  For the seventy-eight percent of New York City’s 1.1 million students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch ($43,568 annually for a family of four) that’s nearly 60 percent of their family’s monthly income, meaning these academic summer camps are out of the question for the families whose kids need them the most.

Cost is only one of many barriers to summer program participation for low SES families. Accessibility plays a big role. For instance, the New York City Department of Education’s Summer Quest, a free, five-week enrichment program to combat summer slide, is only available at 22 of the city’s 1700 public schools. And while NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña have strongly encouraged participation in summer enrichment programs, only about 55,000 low SES students will receive free programming this summer.

Despite the efforts to engage students in summer enrichment programs, New York City still has a long way to go.

About one-third of the achievement gap can be attributed to a child’s SES before they even enter kindergarten. Combatting the 31.4% child poverty rate in New York City through expansion of Home Visiting programs can go along way in getting students off on the right foot. This is just one of many policy solutions that arose at the Roosevelt Institute’s recent conference, Inequality Begins at Birth.

Of the 55,000 New York City students receiving free summer programming, De Blasio anticipates that 34,000 of those will be middle-schoolers. Increasing the engagement of elementary school children will mitigate substantial growth in the achievement gap, as early academic setbacks compound over time. The DOE can start by expanding NYC Summer Quest and other programs to target younger students, and over time the focus should be on engaging even more of the 850,000+ low SES students in New York City public schools.

Sarah Pfeifer Vandekerckhove is the Roosevelt Institute's Director of Operations.

Candace Richardson is a Policy Intern for the Four Freedoms Center.

Chart from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

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Daily Digest - June 25: Konczal Rebuts Brookings' Findings on Student Debt

Jun 25, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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The Devastating, Lifelong Consequences of Student Debt (TNR)

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The Devastating, Lifelong Consequences of Student Debt (TNR)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal points out that the student debt crisis isn't about monthly payments, as the Brookings Institution suggests, but the life choices necessitated by debt.

What if We Treated Labor Like a Startup? (The Nation)

David Rolf, president of SEIU 775NW, suggests that organizing labor movements like startup incubators would help to develop new projects to improve working conditions.

Why Government Pension Funds Became Addicted to Risk (NYT)

Higher-risk investments have become necessary if pension funds are to hit return targets, writes Josh Barro, but come at a price in management fees and hide the real cost of the pensions.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Rob Johnson considers how big money in politics affects pension investment choices.

Why the Gap Thinks a Higher Minimum Wage is Good for Business (Vox)

Danielle Kurtzleben speaks to a vice president at Gap about the company's attempt to retain skilled and educated staff by setting a higher minimum wage company-wide.

Making a Withdrawal: Banks Shut Branches in Poorer Communities (AJAM)

Ranjani Chakraborty and Sarah Hoye examine what happens to communities where banks have eliminated branches. Fees from payday lenders for cashing checks and other services add up fast.

Mortgage-Investor Group Asks DOJ to Leave It Out of Bank Settlements (WSJ)

When banks get credit in their settlements with the Justice Department for modifying loans, mortgage investors want the loans they own excluded, writes Christina Rexrode.

Congrats, America. You Have Less Economic Opportunity Than You Did in 1970 (WaPo)

A new study quantifies varies kinds of opportunity over 40 years and finds that decreasing opportunity overall in the past decade is mostly due to the economy. Jim Tankersley and Jeff Guo report.

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Daily Digest - June 19: Government Has the Power to End the Student Debt Crisis

Jun 19, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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College is Ruining Lives! How to Stop Student Debt’s Paralyzing Spiral (Salon)

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College is Ruining Lives! How to Stop Student Debt’s Paralyzing Spiral (Salon)

David Dayen calls for free tuition at public colleges and universities, and for the federal government to stop using private student loan servicers that put profits ahead of borrowers.

  • Roosevelt Take: Loan servicers lose money when student loans are paid off ahead of schedule, but Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal says that shouldn't concern taxpayers.

The Fed of Magical Thinking: Why is Janet Yellen Ignoring the Rest of Us? (The Guardian)

The Federal Reserve uses a measure of inflation that doesn't include food or gas, which Heidi Moore says leaves the central bank out of step with ordinary Americans' concerns.

Cutting the Poor Out of Welfare (NYT)

Thomas Edsall blames recent increases in extreme poverty on ostensibly anti-poverty policy shifts that support married and working adults over all other people living in poverty.

Obama: US Must ‘Strengthen Unions’ (The Hill)

Justin Sink reports on the President's statements on unions at a town hall meeting in Pittsburgh, where he credited organized labor with building the country's middle class.

Increasing Wages is an Effective Poverty Reduction Tool (TalkPoverty)

Elise Gould says that rising inequality is the flip side of nearly three decades of stagnant wages, and reversing this stagnation will require pro-worker labor policy.

Does Innovation Always Lead to Gentrification? (Pacific Standard)

Kyle Chayka argues that innovation districts, filled with new and growing businesses, should be built to benefit an economically diverse population instead of just young workers.

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Teachers and Tutors Can't Fix All of Low-Income Students' Problems

Jun 13, 2014Casey McQuillan

Targeted public policy could help with many of the problems students face that their teachers can't solve alone.

My parents, both teachers, often blurred the line between being parents and being educators. Luckily, I found academics to be second nature. As a result, my teachers in the local public school system served as valuable role models and fostered my personal growth not just as a student, but as a whole person. I always felt supported by my community and equipped with the necessary tools for my success.

Targeted public policy could help with many of the problems students face that their teachers can't solve alone.

My parents, both teachers, often blurred the line between being parents and being educators. Luckily, I found academics to be second nature. As a result, my teachers in the local public school system served as valuable role models and fostered my personal growth not just as a student, but as a whole person. I always felt supported by my community and equipped with the necessary tools for my success.

I faced a stark contrast to my own experience when I worked with Achieve, a program that offers tuition-free educational enrichment to impoverished students in Boston. I taught critical math skills and literacy comprehension for eight weeks during the summer, and volunteered on Saturdays during the school year. Over the three years I spent with Achieve, I developed intimate and meaningful relationships with my students; but I felt that my impact, even the impact of the entire program, was severely limited.

These students did not have the same tools I did to succeed in the classroom. As a teacher, it was excruciatingly painful to hear a student who is already falling behind explain he could not do his homework because his mom could not pay the bills and the electric company shut off the power. It kills me to tell a student to take notes in class only to find out later that her parents can't afford the prescription glasses she needs to see the board and take those notes. I was expecting these kids to read when some of them could not even see.

Our government claims each citizen maintains the right to an education, but fails to substantiate this right with everything needed for an education. The social safety net did not subsidize electricity for low-income families, and Medicaid doesn't cover prescription eyewear. How could these students possibly reach their full potential under such circumstances? I could see the changes needed to better these students’ lives, but I could not enact them. Our political system remains apathetic or even complicit to the systemic inequality I faced everyday in the classroom. I cared about these students and their success, and it deeply disturbed me to see them seemingly destined for failure because of conditions out of their control.

I only grew more frustrated when I continued to encounter these obstacles with my students. I tried to provide these students with an education that would empower them to be agents of change in their community; instead, when I faced these situations, I felt more helpless than helpful. My students looked to me for help, but I was utterly powerless. I came to the conclusion that to affect positive change would require more than volunteering with these students. Children in these situations needed more from me than an education. Instead of growing more frustrated within the system as I continued to confront these impediments to my students’ success, I decided the entire system needed change. That brought me to the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, and to the Summer Academy Fellowship.

This summer, I will be researching and writing a policy proposal regarding economic equality and equitable development in New York City. I am also working with Operation Hope to provide financial guidance and education to low-income communities. My students remain my driving motivation: I hope this work improves their lives, and the lives of other students in similar situations. To meet their needs and help them achieve their best, our system needs to change.

Casey McQuillan, one of four Andrew Goodman Foundation Fellows in the 2014 NYC Summer Academy, is a rising sophomore and active Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network member at Amherst College studying Math, Economics, and Law.

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Daily Digest - June 12: Health Care Reform is Here to Stay, But Can It Be Improved?

Jun 12, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Time to Bring Back the Public Option — Medicare in All Exchanges (The Hill)

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Time to Bring Back the Public Option — Medicare in All Exchanges (The Hill)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch says that as the discussion of Obamacare shifts from repeal to reform, the first improvement should be expanding access to Medicare coverage.

Ken Burns: Go Ahead, Campaign on the Affordable Care Act (U.S. News & World Report)

Nikki Schwab reports on Ken Burns's remarks on current big policy issues at the "Inequality Begins at Birth" conference, where he screened his upcoming documentary about the Roosevelts.

Republicans Just Killed Elizabeth Warren's Plan to Ease Americans' Crushing Student Loan Debt (MoJo)

Senator Warren's bill would have allowed borrowers to refinance at lower interest rates, writes Patrick Caldwell. Republicans filibustered over the cost, but the bill would have reduced the deficit.

U.S. Economic Recovery Looks Distant as Growth Lingers (NYT)

Binyamin Appelbaum reports on the government's reduced expectations for annual growth, which are leading some economists to wonder whether the economy can ever fully rebound.

What the Foreclosure Crisis Looks Like in Urban Neighborhoods with Few Single-Family Homes (WaPo)

When foreclosure hits neighborhoods filled with small apartment buildings, it reduces cities' already limited supply of affordable rental stock, says Emily Badger.

New on Next New Deal

Do Taxpayers Care if Student Loans Are Paid Off Too Quickly? (On Fair Value Accounting)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal argues that while private lenders might not like it when student loans are paid off ahead of schedule, the public shouldn't worry about it.

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Daily Digest - June 10: Tax Reform Can Bring Corporate Profits Home

Jun 10, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

Today, the Roosevelt Institute, The Century Foundation, and the Academic Pediatric Association are hosting "Inequality Begins at Birth: Child Poverty in America," a conference discussing solutions to help the nation's most vulnerable. Senator Cory Booker will be the keynote speaker. Watch the livestream here.

Today, the Roosevelt Institute, The Century Foundation, and the Academic Pediatric Association are hosting "Inequality Begins at Birth: Child Poverty in America," a conference discussing solutions to help the nation's most vulnerable. Senator Cory Booker will be the keynote speaker. Watch the livestream here.

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our Monday through Friday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Another Voice for Formulary Apportionment (Bloomberg BNA)

Alex Parker looks at the pros and cons of Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz's proposal for taxing corporate profits based on a holistic view of companies.

Arm Girls Against Trafficking in Sex (Providence Journal)

Sarah Estrela, President of the Wheaton College chapter of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, argues for incorporating information about sex trafficking in sex education curricula.

  • Roosevelt Take: Sarah's idea was published in the Campus Network's 10 Ideas series in the 2014 Education journal.

Obama and Sen. Warren Talk Student Loans (The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren breaks down the numbers to explain why existing student debt is cause for serious concern, but also an opportunity for organizing.

Minimum Wage: Who Makes It? (NYT)

Jared Bernstein lays out statistics about the workers who would be affected if the minimum wage were raised to $10.10 an hour; for instance, women and minorities are overrepresented.

Most Missing Workers Are Nowhere Near Retirement Age (Working Economics)

Heidi Shierholz says that 4.4 million missing workers, who are neither employed nor seeking work, are too young to be early retirees. This shows the continued weakness in the labor market.

The Economic Recovery Would Be Stronger If Companies Like Apple Paid Their Fair Share in Taxes (TNR)

Danny Vinik says the U.S. corporate tax code shares the blame for multinationals holding profits offshore, and that corporate tax reform would give the economy a major boost.

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Daily Digest - June 3: The City of Goodwill and Good Wages

Jun 3, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Seattle Enacts $15 Minimum Wage, a Phased In Big Dream (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Joel Connelly reports on the city council's passage of the highest minimum wage in the country, and the conflicts that arose along the way.

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Seattle Enacts $15 Minimum Wage, a Phased In Big Dream (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Joel Connelly reports on the city council's passage of the highest minimum wage in the country, and the conflicts that arose along the way.

Colleges Are Buying Stuff They Can’t Afford and Making Students Pay For It (The Nation)

A new study from the University of California, Berkeley's Debt and Society Project ties universities' increased debt from capital projects to rising student debt, writes Michelle Chen.

Low Retail Wages Disproportionately Hurt Women (MSNBC)

A new Demos report highlights this industry-wide problem, which Ned Resnikoff connects to other industries with more women and very low wages, like food service and domestic workers.

50 Shades of Fed (WaPo)

Jim Tankersley reports on a gathering of economists who discussed whether the Federal Reserve is overstepping its bounds. He notes that they didn't talk much about unemployment.

Coca Cola Demonstrates CEO Pay Has Nothing to Do with Performance (AJAM)

The bonus packages at Coca Cola are so disproportionately large compared to the company's profits that they can't truly be "performance pay," says Dean Baker.

Los Angeles Sues Big Banks for Predatory Mortgages But Unlikely to Win (The Guardian)

The city is suing banks for discriminatory practices that targeted minority communities for subprime mortgages, reports David Dayen, but it won't compensate homeowners with any winnings.

New on Next New Deal

Working Families Party Endorsement of Cuomo Shows Progressive Political Power

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch argues that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's agreement with the Working Families Party creates an opportunity for real progressive change.

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