Daily Digest - June 17: Obama's ENDA Executive Order Sends a Message

Jun 17, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Obama Making Bold Move on ENDA Protections (MSNBC)

Steve Benen says the President's executive order protecting LBGT federal contractors could be an attempt to push Congress to act on broader anti-discrimination legislation.

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Obama Making Bold Move on ENDA Protections (MSNBC)

Steve Benen says the President's executive order protecting LBGT federal contractors could be an attempt to push Congress to act on broader anti-discrimination legislation.

The Fed’s Unemployment Conundrum (WaPo)

Ylan Q. Mui notes that the Federal Reserve's decision to tie its stimulus program to unemployment is problematic because unemployment is falling faster than the economy is growing.

In San Jose, Higher Minimum Wage Pays Benefits (USA Today)

For minimum-wage workers in San Jose, the increase from $8 to $10 per hour meant small but meaningful changes, like being able to afford dental care, writes Paul Davidson.

After Piketty, the Ownership Revolution (AJAM)

Gar Alperovitz suggests that experimenting with broad, democratized ownership of capital could help counter the trend toward inequality highlighted by Thomas Piketty's Capital.

You Can Blame Student Debt for America's Inequality and Shrinking Middle Class (HuffPo)

Sean McElwee argues that while a college education may be a gateway to the middle class, high student debt holds back low- and middle-income students.

Three Fed Governors Sworn in Just in Time for Meeting (WSJ)

Pedro Da Costa reports on the swearing in of the newest members of the Federal Reserve Board, which is expected to continue to scale back the Fed's bond-buying program this week.

Miami Sues JPMorgan Alleging Mortgage Discrimination (Reuters)

The city's suit against JPMorgan claims that the bank not only issued higher-cost loans to minorities but also discriminated when determining refinancing terms, reports Dena Aubin.

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Daily Digest - June 4: Will Fifteen Be the New Floor in Wage Fights?

Jun 4, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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$15 Is the New $10.10 (U.S. News & World Report)

Paul K. Sonn argues a nationwide $15-per-hour minimum wage is both feasible and necessary in order to generate enough spending power to sustain the economy.

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$15 Is the New $10.10 (U.S. News & World Report)

Paul K. Sonn argues a nationwide $15-per-hour minimum wage is both feasible and necessary in order to generate enough spending power to sustain the economy.

Just How Big Are CEOs’ Packages? (In These Times)

Leo Gerard says the purpose of calculating the pay ratio between CEOs and median workers isn't to shame CEOs, but to emphasize the need to pay workers better.

Fed Officials Growing Wary of Market Complacency (WSJ)

Jon Hilsenrath says the Fed is growing concerned that calm markets will increase investors' tolerance for risk too much, and lead to further problems down the road.

What Drives Credit Card Debt? (TAP)

Credit card debt has almost nothing to do with household spending habits, writes Amy Traub. Lack of health insurance, education, and assets are far stronger indicators of high consumer debt.

How Privatizing Government Hollowed Out the Middle Class (MSNBC)

A new report on government contracting shows that the massive shift to privatization in the 1990s cut costs by turning middle-class jobs into low-wage jobs, writes Timothy Noah.

Toward a Progressive Tax Policy (Bloomberg View)

Peter Orszag considers two options for taxing wealth in the U.S. that he thinks are more viable than Piketty's global wealth tax: a progressive consumption tax and an inheritance tax.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz will appear on Moyers & Company again this weekend to continue discussing his new white paper on reforming our tax code.

Republicans Are Claiming the New Climate Rules Will Wreck the Economy. They're Wrong. (MoJo)

Chris Mooney says the economic costs of new environmental rules are consistently overstated, when in fact studies show the benefits from these regulations far exceed the costs.

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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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Daily Digest - May 30: Fair Wages Take Another Step Forward in Seattle

May 30, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Seattle City Council Panel OKs $15 Minimum Wage (AP)

This clears the way for the full city council to vote on the minimum wage increase next week, reports Manuel Valdes, but delays implementation by another three months.

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Seattle City Council Panel OKs $15 Minimum Wage (AP)

This clears the way for the full city council to vote on the minimum wage increase next week, reports Manuel Valdes, but delays implementation by another three months.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute President and CEO urged this step on the minimum wage when she gave the closing remarks at Seattle's Income Inequality Symposium.

Elizabeth Warren to Obama: Fed Nominees Should Crack Down On Big Banks (MoJo)

Senator Warren wants the Federal Reserve to spend more time on financial regulation, says Erika Eichelberger, and sees two open seats as an opportunity to add reformers.

The US GDP puzzle: Is This a Temporary Drop or Something More Serious? (The Guardian)

Heidi Moore examines the possible reasons for the sharp drop in GDP in the first quarter of 2014. She argues that if it's a blip, it's unclear how the economy will bounce back.

Walmart Moms’ Walkout Starts Friday (In These Times)

The "Walmart Mom" was originally conceived as a political category, but Sarah Jaffe reports that real moms who struggle to support families on Walmart wages are striking.

Companies Commit Human-Rights Abuses in America, Too (The Atlantic)

Christine Bader argues that horrors in American workplaces should be viewed through a human rights framework, which would prioritize people over profits.

Thomas Piketty Responds to Criticism of His Data (NYT)

Neil Irwin summarizes Piketty's response to the Financial Times, which argues that the FT's criticism used flawed methodology in its examination of his data.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal pointed out flaws in the Financial Times' criticism in two recent blog posts.

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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 - April 16: The Ideas Generation

Apr 16, 2014Tim Price

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That '70s Show, Starring Ted Cruz (New Republic)

Despite conservatives' tendency to compare Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter, today's economic challenges are the opposite of those the U.S. faced in the 1970s, writes Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal.

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That '70s Show, Starring Ted Cruz (New Republic)

Despite conservatives' tendency to compare Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter, today's economic challenges are the opposite of those the U.S. faced in the 1970s, writes Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal.

When Tax Refunds Aren't Just a Bonus, But a Lifeline (ThinkProgress)

Twenty-eight million low-income families depend on the Earned Income Tax Credit to make ends meet, writes Bryce Covert, but not all poor parents qualify for it, and tax preparers' fees can hurt those who do.

In Many Cities, Rent Is Rising Out of Reach of Middle Class (NYT)

A new analysis finds 90 U.S. cities where the median rent excluding utilities is more than 30 percent of the median gross income, writes Shaila Dewan, and it's putting the squeeze on renters and the recovery.

The Sad, Slow Death of America's Retail Workforce (The Atlantic)

The retail sector's sales and jobs numbers are up, writes Derek Thompson, but as business becomes more efficient and moves online, the workforce is increasingly concentrated in low-paying superstore jobs.

3 big things to look for in Yellen's first monetary policy speech (WaPo)

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is likely to discuss labor market strength, inflation expectations, and the need for financial regulation in today's address to the Economic Club of New York, reports Ylan Q. Mui.

New on Next New Deal

Millennials Are Shifting the Public Debate with the Power of Their Ideas

Taylor Jo Isenberg, the Roosevelt Institute's Vice President of Networks, introduces the Campus Network's 2014 10 Ideas journals, collecting top student policy proposals on economic development, health care, education, equal justice, energy and the environment, and defense and diplomacy.

The Pay's the Thing: How America's CEOs Are Getting Rich Off Taxpayers

Roosevelt Institute Fellow and Director of Research Susan Holmberg explains why we must close the CEO performance pay tax loophole in order to curb the rise of income inequality in the U.S.

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Daily Digest - February 21: When Wall Street Worries Too Much

Feb 21, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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An Aggressive Fed Finds Critics on Wall Street (NYT)

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An Aggressive Fed Finds Critics on Wall Street (NYT)

Some bankers blame easy money for the boom-and-bust cycle, writes Peter Eavis, but Fed supporters like Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal argue the critics have unrealistic expectations about the economy.

You Still Need to Care About Sky-High Wall Street CEO Pay (U.S. News & World Report)

Pat Garofalo says that while high CEO pay is a problem across the board, it's especially worrisome on Wall Street, where a CEO's decisions can affect the entire economy.

South Carolina Governor Says Ford, GM, Chrysler Union Jobs not Welcome in State (Detroit Free Press)

Governor Nikki Haley is happier to have unionized companies, including many Detroit-based auto manufacturers, keep their jobs far, far away from her right-to-work state, reports Rudolph Bell.

Why Gap’s Wage Hike Matters (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff argues that with House Republicans unlikely to allow a vote on a minimum wage increase, it's worth cheering for companies that do it themselves.

Obama to Drop Entitlement Cuts from 2015 Budget (POLITICO)

Reid J. Epstein reports that the president is done floating compromises for the GOP in his budget. Chained CPI, an inflation metric that would reduce benefit increases for Social Security, is gone.

New on Next New Deal

In Campus Network’s Summer Academy, Students Learn What Good Work Really Looks Like

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's Jeff Raines and Joe Swanson consider the effect that the Summer Academy Fellowship has had on their college experiences and career goals.

  • Note: Current students can still apply for the Campus Network's Summer Academy. For more information, click here.

We Need More Nuance from the CBO

Presenting a single number instead of a range of economic opinions is irresponsible of the Congressional Budget Office, writes Jeff Madrick, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Director of the Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative.

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Daily Digest - February 12: Higher Pay Won't Hurt Workers

Feb 12, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Who Would Benefit From a Minimum Wage Hike? (Your Call Radio)

The aggregate effects of a minimum wage increase wouldn't lead to job losses, says Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal, and it's the easiest way to boost our economy.

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Who Would Benefit From a Minimum Wage Hike? (Your Call Radio)

The aggregate effects of a minimum wage increase wouldn't lead to job losses, says Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal, and it's the easiest way to boost our economy.

Now That Boehner Has Backed Down, Let's Fix The Debt Ceiling For Good (TNR)

Since the House GOP has approved a clean debt limit increase, Eric Posner argues it's time to pass legislation that would end this game of chicken over the national debt forever.

Yellen Sets a Familiar Direction for the Fed (NYT)

Binyamin Appelbaum reports that the new Fed chair's testimony to the House Financial Services Committee emphasized that many policies will remain the same under her leadership.

What Do the Jobless Do When the Benefits End? (WaPo)

Ylan Mui interviews people about how they're getting by, and since none of her subjects have full-time work, the GOP theory that benefits keep people from taking jobs seems unlikely.

Why Democrats Will Win on Unemployment Insurance (The Atlantic)

Sarah Mimms writes that the Democrats will come out on top whether they get an extension on unemployment insurance or not. No extension? Then there's the campaign message for 2014.

Responsible Contractors Only: How to Ensure Obama’s Minimum Wage Order Is Enforced (PolicyShop)

Building a "responsible contractor" enforcement mechanism into his executive order will help the president to ensure workers actually get the raise he called for, writes Amy Traub.

Anatomy of a Hunger Crisis (MSNBC)

New York City's food pantries are already unable to handle the needs of the city's hungry, according to Ned Resnikoff, and the president has just signed another round of cuts to food stamps.

New on Next New Deal

The Three Big Questions Janet Yellen Should Answer in Today's Testimony

With the new Fed chair delivering her first testimony to Congress this week, Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal lays out what we need to know about her views on the taper, financial reform, and unemployment.

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The Three Big Questions Janet Yellen Should Answer in Today's Testimony

Feb 11, 2014Mike Konczal

Janet Yellen has her first Humphrey-Hawkins testimony today, where she’ll give a prepared speech, already released online, and testify before the Republican-controlled House Financial Services committee. What are the points that she’ll need to cover?

The first element is how and when she’ll manage the so-called “taper” of monetary policy. At the end of 2012, the Federal Reserve started an extensive program of monetary stimulus designed to boost the economy. They declared that this would stay in full effect until unemployment dropped to 6.5 percent.

We are close to hitting that threshold. The unemployment rate is at 6.6 percent, and will fall below 6.5 percent very soon. Yellen, in her testimony, emphasizes a broader picture of unemployment than just the headline rate, including the amount of people working part-time against their choice and the amount of long-term unemployed.

What’s even more interesting, and a bit new, is her statement that “it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate well past the time that the unemployment rate declines below 6-1/2 percent, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the 2 percent goal.”

Hopefully Congress will ask her to consider these choices in light of the last two weak job reports. Isn’t it more appropriate to step on the gas rather than test the brakes? However, she’ll likely encounter a skeptical Congress, and as such it will be essential for Yellen to make the case that the weak job numbers, combined with the vagueness of what the headline unemployment rate is telling us, requires continued monetary action.

The second point is how she'll handle financial reform. Given that Yellen is considered a monetary dove, it’s been interesting to see the amount of questions she’s taken from Congress about where Dodd-Frank and other reforms stand. This will no doubt continue into this testimony.

Financial reform has hit an interesting point where much of the rule-writing from the Dodd-Frank Act is finished, and now there’s a transition to both enforcement and clean-up action. Yellen notes in her testimony that rules related to derivatives as well as capital requirements still remain in the works. It would be useful for Congress to ask her where she thinks capital requirements for the largest firms should ultimately end up. Does she think that this number is too high, or too low?

It would also be fascinating for someone to ask Yellen about the recent wave of “postal banking” coverage, and the role the government can play in providing essential banking services to unbanked and underbanked Americans.

The third and most important is how the Federal Reserve will transition to prevent periods of mass unemployment like we are currently experiencing. Is a 2 percent inflation target either high enough, or the right target, for the job?

Sadly, this will be the topic least covered of them all. However, it’s the one that is most essential for preventing the economy from falling back into the situation it now finds itself in.

Mike Konczal is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.

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Image via Federal Reserve

Janet Yellen has her first Humphrey-Hawkins testimony today, where she’ll give a prepared speech, already released online, and testify before the Republican-controlled House Financial Services committee. What are the points that she’ll need to cover?

The first element is how and when she’ll manage the so-called “taper” of monetary policy. At the end of 2012, the Federal Reserve started an extensive program of monetary stimulus designed to boost the economy. They declared that this would stay in full effect until unemployment dropped to 6.5 percent.

We are close to hitting that threshold. The unemployment rate is at 6.6 percent, and will fall below 6.5 percent very soon. Yellen, in her testimony, emphasizes a broader picture of unemployment than just the headline rate, including the amount of people working part-time against their choice and the amount of long-term unemployed.

What’s even more interesting, and a bit new, is her statement that “it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate well past the time that the unemployment rate declines below 6-1/2 percent, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the 2 percent goal.”

Hopefully Congress will ask her to consider these choices in light of the last two weak job reports. Isn’t it more appropriate to step on the gas rather than test the brakes? However, she’ll likely encounter a skeptical Congress, and as such it will be essential for Yellen to make the case that the weak job numbers, combined with the vagueness of what the headline unemployment rate is telling us, requires continued monetary action.

The second point is how she'll handle financial reform. Given that Yellen is considered a monetary dove, it’s been interesting to see the amount of questions she’s taken from Congress about where Dodd-Frank and other reforms stand. This will no doubt continue into this testimony.

Financial reform has hit an interesting point where much of the rule-writing from the Dodd-Frank Act is finished, and now there’s a transition to both enforcement and clean-up action. Yellen notes in her testimony that rules related to derivatives as well as capital requirements still remain in the works. It would be useful for Congress to ask her where she thinks capital requirements for the largest firms should ultimately end up. Does she think that this number is too high, or too low?

It would also be fascinating for someone to ask Yellen about the recent wave of “postal banking” coverage, and the role the government can play in providing essential banking services to unbanked and underbanked Americans.

The third and most important is how the Federal Reserve will transition to prevent periods of mass unemployment like we are currently experiencing. Is a 2 percent inflation target either high enough, or the right target, for the job?

Sadly, this will be the topic least covered of them all. However, it’s the one that is most essential for preventing the economy from falling back into the situation it now finds itself in.

Mike Konczal is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.

Follow or contact the Rortybomb blog:

  
 
Image via Federal Reserve

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Daily Digest - February 3: Financial Reform Enters a New Era

Feb 2, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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What's the Deal: What's Next for Financial Reform (YouTube)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal talks about what the Dodd-Frank financial reform law accomplished, what still needs to be done to change the system, and why there are reasons for reformers to be optimistic about the future.

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What's the Deal: What's Next for Financial Reform (YouTube)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal talks about what the Dodd-Frank financial reform law accomplished, what still needs to be done to change the system, and why there are reasons for reformers to be optimistic about the future.

  • Roosevelt Take: Read "An Unfinished Mission," the report from the Roosevelt Institute and Americans for Financial Reform that Mike discusses in this video, here.

New Fed Chief Janet Yellen Lets a Long Career of Breaking Barriers Speak for Itself (WaPo)

Ylan Q. Mui profiles Janet Yellen's career with a focus on gender, as Yellen has been a prominent face for women in economics over the years. She notes that Yellen has rarely spoken on gender issues, and has asked her staff to use the title "chair" rather than "chairwoman."

Oh, Sweet Mercy, Are We About To Have Another Debt Ceiling Fight? (HuffPo)

Jason Linkins examines why another debt ceiling fight seems likely, even though the GOP has already lost bargaining power by giving in on the last two. He sees the Republicans' insistence on turning everything into a fight against Obamacare as a losing strategy.

Domino’s Delivery Workers Settle Suit for $1.3 Million (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse reports on the settlement between 61 deliverymen and a Manhattan Domino's franchise. The workers filed the suit based on minimum wage and overtime violations after many were forced to list far fewer hours on time sheets than they actually worked.

Walmart’s Holiday Profits are Way Down. Food Stamp Cuts are a Big Part of the Reason. (Washington Monthly)

Kathleen Geier says the most interesting part of this story is the explicit tie Walmart has made between food stamp cuts and low sales. She sees this as part of the cycle of austerity politics, which fail to recognize how government cuts can slow the overall economy.

Jerry Brown's Austerity Kick Unpopular with Advocates for Poor (LA Times)

Anthony York writes that Californians disagree on how to use their multibillion-dollar budget surplus. In his State of the State address, Governor Brown pushed for a rainy-day fund, but others are discussing popular social safety net proposals like universal pre-K and paid sick leave.

The Problem with Retirement Savings: Making Enough Money to Save (The Guardian)

Suzanne McGee praises President Obama's MyRA plan as a "tiny positive step," but points out that it won't do anything to solve the real problem. As wages have flatlined, increased options for saving won't help workers who need every dollar for bills today.

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