Daily Digest - February 5: What the CBO Really Said About Health Care Reform

Feb 5, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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‘Obamacare Bailout’ Does Not Exist, Confirms Government; House Republicans Demand Its Repeal Anyway (NY Mag)

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‘Obamacare Bailout’ Does Not Exist, Confirms Government; House Republicans Demand Its Repeal Anyway (NY Mag)

Jonathan Chait writes that the GOP insists that an Affordable Care Act provision that taxes and reimburses insurers based on the health of their customers must be another big government bailout, but the Congressional Budget Office and Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal's definition of bailouts contradict them.

Obamacare Is Not a Job Killer (TNR)

Jonathan Cohn notes that while the CBO's analysis shows the Affordable Care Act will cause a decrease in labor output, that is actually a good thing. The reduction in hours won't be due to fewer jobs, but will primarily be people who are choosing to work less, retire earlier, or start their own businesses.

Can Marriage Cure Poverty? (NYT)

Annie Lowrey writes that Republicans like Marco Rubio have it backwards when they suggest that pushing marriage would solve all other social ills. In fact, she says, it's poverty that is getting in the way of stable, lasting marriages.

Congress Passes $8.7 Billion Food Stamp Cut (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff reports that the Senate has joined the House in passing a version of the Farm Bill that makes significant cuts to food stamps. The president is expected to sign this bill, which will cut about $90 a month in benefits for 850,000 households.

AOL is Leading the Way to Make 401(k)s Worse for Everyone (WaPo)

Jia Lynn Yang explains that by changing 401(k) matches to lump sums at the end of each year, AOL punishes employees who leave their job mid-year. That saves the company plenty of money, and if implemented more broadly, would be a major financial loss for workers.

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In 'Nuestro Texas,' A Call for Human Rights in Reproductive Health Care

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn looks at a new report on access to reproductive health care in the Rio Grande Valley. New laws have turned circumstances in that region so dire that according to international standards, its a human rights violation.

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Daily Digest - January 16: We (Almost) Have a Budget. What's Next?

Jan 16, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Join Roosevelt Institute Associate Director of Networked Initiatives Alan Smith for a Twitter discussion this afternoon at 2pm EST to discuss the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's new project examining how anchor institutions can promote local economic development. Follow the discussion at #RethinkingCommunities.

House Passes Compromise $1.1 Trillion Budget for 2014 (CNN)

Deirdre Walsh and Lisa Desjardins report on the omnibus spending bill that will now move to the Senate. Earlier this week, the President signed a three-day extension on the current continuing resolution, which gives the Senate until Saturday to pass the new budget.

Reid Vows to Try UI Again (The Hill)

Ramsey Cox writes that despite the Republicans blocking the vote on extended unemployment insurance this week, Senator Reid wants to try again after the Senate passes the budget. It's been nearly three weeks since 1.3 million people lost their long-term unemployment benefits.

Seeking Ways to Help the Poor and Childless (NYT)

Eduardo Porter looks at an experiment in earned income tax credit-style support for workers without children. The test considers whether the labor market is doing enough to support the needs of all workers, and what government can do to make up the difference.

Workers At Food Court Owned By Federal Government Allege They’ve Been Cheated Out Of $3 Million (ThinkProgress)

Alan Pyke reports that Good Jobs Nation has filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, alleging that service workers in Washington, DC's Union Station have been subject to chronic wage theft. The complaint claims losses averaging $10,000 per worker per year.

Push Set to Wrest Minimum-Wage Control From Albany (Crain's New York)

Chris Bragg writes that liberal groups are launching a campaign to allow municipalities in New York to pass higher local minimum wages. New York City politicians are supporting this proposal, but it's unclear how the state legislature feels about giving up control of the minimum wage.

Why Banks Aren’t Lending to Homebuyers (Reuters)

Felix Salmon explains the drop in mortgage availability as a simple matter of profits. At current rates, a 30-year fixed rate mortgage won't make much money for a bank, and the possible solutions aren't very good for potential homeowners.

Regions Bank To Discontinue Payday Loan Program (NPR)

Robert Benincasa reports that the Alabama-based bank is discontinuing its payday loan offerings, likely in response to increased regulations that don't apply to this bank. This shows that sometimes, even the threat of regulation will eliminate the worst banking practices.

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Move Over, Shareholders: Let Workers Have a Say in Corporate Governance

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Economic Development Azi Hussain argues that we could change corporations so that they wouldn't have to put shareholder profits above all. A stakeholder corporate governance model would bring new priorities to the board room.

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Daily Digest - December 20: Grand Bargain Dreams, Meet Political Reality

Dec 20, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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2013 Was the Year the Grand Bargain Died. Good Riddance. (TNR)

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2013 Was the Year the Grand Bargain Died. Good Riddance. (TNR)

Mark Schmitt argues that striking a budget deal has received so much emphasis because it allows politicians to appear to be outside the usual partisan fights. But that's really just magical thinking, and Congress still needs to figure out how to function.

The Fed Transformed (TAP)

Robert Kuttner looks back at the ways the Federal Reserve has changed under Ben Bernanke, and looks ahead to the challenges facing Janet Yellen. Her task, says Kuttner, is to transform the financial system into one that serves the economy rather than ruling it.

Sen. Reid Gets Agreement For Yellen Confirmation Vote in January (WSJ)

Siobhan Hughes reports that the Senate will hold the Yellen confirmation vote, among others, in the new year. Thanks to this new schedule, the senators will be spared from having to work into the weekend before Christmas - unlike many Americans.

This Chart Blows Up the Myth of the Welfare Queen (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissmann looks at a chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics comparing the yearly spending of families that use public assistance programs and families that don't. Families receiving assistance have tight budgets, particularly in non-essential categories like entertainment.

The Adjunct’s Lament (In These Times)

Rebecca Burns sees adjunct professors as an example of how even so-called professionals can become part of the "precariat," a class characterized by insecurity. She looks at the difficulties in organizing these groups of workers, particularly when they seek higher wages.

Seattle Mayor-Elect Announces Minimum Wage Task Force (KIRO 7)

Graham Johnson reports that Seattle is taking its first steps toward a $15-per-hour minimum wage. One council member-elect has put a time constraint on the task force's work, stating that she'll start collecting signatures for a ballot initiative if the increase isn't passed quickly.

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Farewell to Health Care for America Now

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch writes about Health Care for America Now's closing shop, praising their focus on movement-building and local engagement. This kind of grassroots organizing, says Richard, is key to achieving transformational progressive change.

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Daily Digest - December 19: How Michigan Can Put Its Best Minds to Work

Dec 19, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Bill Helps Solve Michigan's Brain Drain (Lansing State Journal)

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Bill Helps Solve Michigan's Brain Drain (Lansing State Journal)

Sonja Karnovsky and Adam Watkins, co-Presidents of the University of Michigan chapter of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, argue that a bill that would create a tax credit to reduce student loan costs for graduates who stay in-state, which is based on a Campus Network proposal, would also improve the state's economy.

Street Protests Can Foil Congress (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren suggests that anyone seeking to reform today's Congress should look at the response to the filibusters of the Civil Rights era. Social movement politics pushed through filibuster reform in 1975, and similar pressures could help end today's dysfunction.

Not So Fast: New Budget Deal Leaves a Lot to Deal With (MoJo)

Patrick Caldwell points out that the Ryan-Murray budget is only a broad framework, and Congress still needs to pass an omnibus appropriations bill to set spending levels on a program-by-program basis. With $46 billion to cut, that's not going to be an easy process.

Looking for a Job? Congress Doesn’t Seem to Care (The Root)

Charles D. Ellison points out that while Congress continues to focus on the Affordable Care Act and the budget deficit, polling data shows that the majority of Americans would rather see their representatives shift their attention to jobs. Sadly, Congress seems to have missed these polls.

The Taper is Here, and the Stock Market Seems to Love It (Quartz)

Matt Phillips reports that the Federal Reserve has begun to taper its bond-buying program, and the S&P 500 shot up in response to the news. But the Fed isn't done pushing for low inflation, so Phillips argues that the central bank will remain a major market presence.

The Fed Tapered Perfectly—Here's What It Needs To Do Next (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien explains how the Fed has managed to keep markets from reacting badly to tapering, as they did when the very suggestion was made back in May. He adds that with inflation still below target and unemployment still too high, expanded monetary policy will still be needed.

Charting a Mismatch in Housing Spending (Off the Charts)

Will Fischer looks at federal housing spending, which disproportionately subsidizes wealthier households and favors homeownership over renting. Since low-income renters are far more likely to need support, he says Congress should put more resources into rental assistance.

UAW Wants to Eliminate Two-Tier Wage System: Official (Reuters)

Ben Klayman reports on the United Auto Workers' new push to eliminate dramatically lower pay for entry-level hires compared to veteran workers. A UAW vice president says that to do away with this system, they'll need to organize non-union plants in the South.

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Daily Digest - December 13: Who Has Real Family Values in Politics?

Dec 13, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Why Democrats’ Doomed Family Leave Bill Matters (MSNBC)

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Why Democrats’ Doomed Family Leave Bill Matters (MSNBC)

Irin Carmon argues that even though there's almost no chance of Congress passing it, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act ensures that issues of caregiving and economic justice are in the news. It also creates an opportunity to push back on the GOP's brand of "family values."

N.Y.U. Graduate Assistants to Join Auto Workers’ Union (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse reports on the graduate assistants' overwhelming support for unionizing. As the only graduate assistants' union recognized by a private university, the union hopes to create better conditions that would also make NYU's programs more attractive to applicants.

Only Progressives Care About Public Investment (The Blog of the Century)

Andrew Fieldhouse writes that while centrists claim to want adequate funding for public investment, their budget proposals suggest otherwise. Increased public investment requires increased revenue, and only the Congressional Progressive Caucus's budget proposal has enough.

The War Over Austerity Is Over. Republicans Won. (MoJo)

Kevin Drum pulls from the work of conservative wonk Yuval Levin to discuss the shift in the conversation on government spending. He notes that the Murray-Ryan budget deal sets spending lower than the original Ryan budget, which was seen as pretty extreme only a couple of years ago.

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Stanley Fischer Will Please Centrists, But He's the Wrong Choice for the Fed

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick says that Stanley Fischer is too much of an austerian and too doctrinaire to be the best choice for Janet Yellen's Vice Chair. He points to the 1997 Asian financial crisis for evidence that Fischer will put ideology first.

Stanley Fischer is the Right Choice to be the Fed's Vice Chair

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Bo Cutter argues in favor of Fischer's diverse background and his experience in difficult policymaking arenas. With the Republicans preparing to evaluate and examine the Fed, Bo suggests that Fischer will be a valuable resource for Yellen.

Local Government is the Secret Weapon in the Fight Against Economic Inequality

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network National Field Strategist Joelle Gamble argues that it's time to consider new ways to push back against economic inequality. Cities and towns should provide innovative incentives to businesses that encourage the right kind of economic growth.

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Daily Digest - December 12: Too Cooperative for a Tea Party

Dec 12, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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A Tea Party For Liberals (Majority Report)

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A Tea Party For Liberals (Majority Report)

Sam Seder and Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal discuss what has prevented the rise of a liberal equivalent of the Tea Party. Liberal groups would need a lot more funding before they could break the historic partnerships with moderates that have helped them beat Republicans.

US Budget Deal: What Does It Add Up To? (FT)

James Politi gives a full breakdown of the budget deal, complete with numbers. There are no tax cuts, because that's too much compromise for the GOP, so all the increases in revenue come from higher fees. (This article is behind a paywall.)

Federal Budget Deal Hits Worker Pensions (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff focuses on how the budget deal will affect federal workers. Even though there are no real concerns about the long-term sustainability of the federal retirement system, the deal increases employee contributions to create savings in the budget.

Don’t Deck the Halls for This One (Other Words)

Mattea Kramer compares the Murray-Ryan budget deal to polling data on what Americans want from the budget, and finds the deal lacking. When 80 percent of Americans want higher taxes on corporations, for example, why is there no new tax revenue?

Tax Dollars for Law Breakers? (Policyshop)

Amy Traub presents what may be the least-controversial policy idea ever: the government shouldn't do business with law-breakers. A new study shows that we've failed to meet even that basic standard, with many federal contractors paying large fines for labor law violations.

ALEC Has Tremendous Influence in State Legislatures. Here’s Why. (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network alum Alexander Hertel-Fernandez ties ALEC's success to the resources available to legislators. Lawmakers with smaller budgets and shorter legislative sessions are more likely to introduce pre-fab bills from ALEC.

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Corporate Education Reform Won’t Solve the Problems Caused by Poverty

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Education Raul Gardea criticizes the profit motive in education reform. Inequality causes many of the problems facing education, and those problems won't be solved by getting the market involved in our schools.

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Daily Digest - December 11: Bipartisan Budgets Mean Everyone's A Little Unhappy

Dec 11, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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There Are Six Big Arguments Against the Volcker Rule. Here’s Why They’re Wrong. (WaPo)

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There Are Six Big Arguments Against the Volcker Rule. Here’s Why They’re Wrong. (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal takes on some of the most common arguments against the Volcker Rule, which claim that the rule is either unnecessary or even counterproductive. In the process, he makes his own case for why the rule is in fact needed.

The Most Important Economic Stories of 2013—in 41 Graphs (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien kicks off the end-of-year round-ups with a list of graphs and charts. Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal's contribution shows the year's growth estimates from the Federal Reserve - evidence, Mike says, of a wasted year for returning to full employment.

U.S. Budget Agreement Eases Spending Cuts Over Two Years (Bloomberg)

Heidi Przybyla and Derek Wallbank explain the first bipartisan budget deal since 1986. The deal doesn't extend unemployment benefits and it saves money by increasing federal employees' pension contributions, but it's a deal, and it's likely to prevent another government shutdown.

Boeing Looks Around, and a State Worries (NYT)

Kirk Johnson looks at Boeing's options after the machinist union's rejection of a new contract that would have frozen pensions and harmed future union members. State after state is courting Boeing with special deals, even though it means passing up tax revenue from a massive airplane factory.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch explains that the Machinists Local 751 rejected Boeing's proposed contract to take a stand for what middle class jobs should look like today and into the future.

Is Service Work Today Worse Than Being a Household Servant? (AJAM)

David Cay Johnston poses this fascinating question along with a comparison of compensation for household cooks in the 1910s and modern fast-food cooks. Few would want to return to the Gilded Age, but many service-sector jobs had more security and stability then.

How The Residents Of SeaTac’s Lives Will Change With A $15 Minimum Wage (ThinkProgress)

Bryce Covert speaks to workers at the airport in SeaTac, Washington who will be getting a raise on January 1 thanks to the town's new minimum wage increase. Even as they plan how they will use the money, they are just as excited for the provision of the new law guaranteeing paid sick leave.

Why Every City Needs Its Own Minimum Wage (The Atlantic Cities)

Richard Florida explains an interesting model for calculating local minimum wages based on a region's median wage. He argues that a minimum wage between 50 and 60 percent of the regional median wage would be a better reflection of local cost of living.

New on Next New Deal

Conservatives and Progressives Agree: Congress Should Not Cut Unemployment Benefits

Nell Abernathy, Program Manager for the Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative, lays out the economic argument for maintaining unemployment insurance almost entirely in quotes from conservatives, demonstrating that this isn't only a progressive cause.

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Daily Digest - November 5: Home Is Where The Affordable Rent Is

Nov 5, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Where Millennials Can Make It Now (Atlantic Cities)

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Where Millennials Can Make It Now (Atlantic Cities)

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz introduces her two-week series on cities where Millennials afford the costs of achieving their goals. The first piece, on Omaha, points out the higher levels of risk Millennials can take on with low costs of living.

Median Wage Falls to Lowest Level Since 1998 (AJAM)

David Cay Johnston reports that as the median wage falls, average wages are rising, according to new data from the Social Security Administration. That's a sign of gains at the top of the income ladder, with the wealthiest Americans pulling up the average.

How Washington Abandoned America's Unpaid Interns (The Atlantic)

Stephen Lurie explains the legal puzzle that has left unpaid interns without protections. There's serious structural damage happening to the workplace when young people work unpaid and unprotected, but that can't be fixed without laws or regulations.

Where’s the GOP’s Anti-Poverty Agenda? (WaPo)

Ryan Cooper asks why the Republicans have ignored the section of their autopsy report about poverty. A hard line against poverty assistance programs is particularly horrifying when unemployment is still high, and the GOP knows it, but apparently doesn't care.

2014 Cuts Hit Defense Spending, so Obama Has Leverage on Taxes (MSNBC)

Timothy Noah suggests that since the next round of sequestration cuts hit the Pentagon, the Democrats have a lot more budget clout than they think. Republicans don't want to be tied to defense cuts, which makes these cuts a useful negotiation tool.

If the GOP Repeals Obamacare, 137 Million Americans Could Get Cancellation Notices (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger thinks that the Republicans would face public outrage if they actually managed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The people getting cancellation notices from their insurance companies today are big news, but a repeal would be exponentially larger.

Meet Preet Bharara, Who Just Won the Biggest Insider Trading Case Ever (WaPo)

Lydia DePillis profiles the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. His crusade against a culture of corruption on Wall Street led to a major victory in a criminal case against a hedge fund for insider trading yesterday.

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Daily Digest - October 31: Low Taxes Carry Heavy Burdens

Oct 31, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The Great American Ripoff: The High Cost of Low Taxes (Bill Moyers)

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The Great American Ripoff: The High Cost of Low Taxes (Bill Moyers)

Joshua Holland argues that low taxes in the United States translate to hugely disproportionate out-of-pocket costs for things that would be covered by the social safety net in other countries. That also means there's nothing to catch people in crisis.

End Corporate Welfare for McDonald's. Better Yet, Raise the Minimum Wage (The Guardian)

Sadhbh Walshe looks at the latest story about McDonald's workers seeking public assistance, which revolves around a phone call to its McResource line. She argues that if McDonald's needs to refer their workers to Medicaid and SNAP, they should be paying better wages.

Another Temporary Funding Bill? (MSNBC)

Jane C. Timm reports that a grand bargain is pretty much out of the question, and at least one Senator thinks that a continuing resolution through the end of the fiscal year is likely. That would bring us to a month before the 2014 elections, which would be rough timing for a budget fight.

C.F.T.C. Approves Tighter Commodity Trading Rules (NYT)

Alexandra Stevenson reports on new rules from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, designed to protect client money from brokerage firms going bust. After a 2011 case that left customers $1.6 billion short, the need for these rules is pretty clear.

Paypal to Government: Be More Like Us (WaPo)

Lydia DePillis examines a report from Paypal that suggests how government should handle the mobile payment industry. The company calls on regulators to throw out their old methodology, which she thinks is hugely unlikely.

The New Futurism (The New Yorker)

James Surowiecki looks at human-capital contracts, which allow people to raise funds for businesses or education in exchange for a percentage of future earnings over a number of years. The principle is similar to income-based repayment on student loans.

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Maine's Lobster Industry is Dying, But Government Can Help Save It

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network student John Tranfaglia calls for government intervention in Maine's lobster industry. Instead of criticizing the Canadian government for subsidizing lobster processing, Governor LePage should figure out ways to attract lobster processors to Maine.

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Maine's Lobster Industry is Dying, But Government Can Help Save It

Oct 30, 2013John Tranfaglia

U.S. lobstermen aren't netting the profits they deserve thanks to trade arrangements with Canada.

U.S. lobstermen aren't netting the profits they deserve thanks to trade arrangements with Canada.

It is not very often that the New York Times decides to pen an article about the Maine lobster industry. So when a Canada correspondent based in Ottawa and a New England correspondent based in Boston write two different articles in a span of three days which both appear in the New York edition, it might be smart for Mainers to listen up. All evidence suggests that despite high demand for Maine lobster, the state’s defining industry will continue to die off without greater government support and investment.

Ian Austen, the Canada correspondent who authored the article “Hit by Low Prices, Lobstermen are at Odds in Maine and Canada” describes many of the uncomfortable truths surrounding the industry. The yearly haul of lobster continues to increase while lobstermen are receiving less for their catches. Every year Maine’s iconic business is reminded that the rising costs of fuel and bait and the stagnant or even decreasing price of lobster is unsustainable.

In looking at the issue of oversupply, Austen discusses the newly increased state lobster promotion fund. The fund, which saw its budget go from $400,000 to $2.4 million, is as contentious as it is necessary. In May, I wrote a piece for the Portland Press Herald describing why I believe the fund is essential to putting more money back in hands of the lobstermen. But the marketing funds may not be effective if the lobster is shipped to Canada for processing. Trade rules state that once this transaction has occurred, the lobster is considered a “product of Canada.” That doesn’t bode well for Maine, since 50-70 percent of the lobster caught off its coast (which amounted to 123.3 million pounds in 2012) will be sent to Canada.

Two days later, Jess Bidgood, who is based in Boston, authored “Some Wary as Lobstermen Unite.” The article addresses the division between the established Maine Lobstermen’s Association and the newly formed Maine Lobstermen’s Union. At issue is whether unionization is the right step for lobstermen to take in response to severely decreasing profits. As the article discusses, the 5,000 or so licensed lobstermen in the state operate as independent business owners, not the traditional laborers who historically have combined to join unions, and the the Maine Lobstermen’s Association has made it clear that it does not believe unionization is the right solution to the problem. But it is clear that there is a problem, and it isn't going away on its own.

The underlying issue behind both these articles is that the loss of profits for lobstermen is something that never should have happened. For years, Maine has been overly reliant on its Canadian neighbors to handle its processing needs, and for years we have seen price markups that have increased dealers’ profits while shrinking those of the lobstermen (why else would food trucks in D.C. be charging $18 or a lobster roll?). What might be most striking is that the lobster does indeed come from Maine and there is an overwhelming demand for it. The issue, and what I believe the state legislature should be focused on, is that lobstermen are being paid less than $2 a pound when they should be getting more.

Maine's Republican governor, Paul LePage, is quick to criticize Canada for subsidizing its processing plants. Here’s a wakeup call to the governor: that how governments and businesses interact. States provide tax breaks, subsidies, and other economic incentives to attract businesses. So instead of removing murals, fighting over the “state treat,” disagreeing over the presence of a television monitor in the state house, and all the other petty disputes the legislature and governor have had over the last few years, the state should pursue a progressive approach to supporting its core industry. And while the state is reforming its approach, the federal government should also take note of how industries can suffer when the parties bicker with one another instead of pursuing real solutions.

John Tranfaglia is a senior majoring in political science at American University and a member of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network.


Man holding lobsters banner image via Shutterstock.com

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