Daily Digest - October 7: Not So Non-Essential, Still Shutdown

Oct 7, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The ‘Non-Essential’ Parts of Government That Shut Down Are Actually Quite Essential (WaPo)

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The ‘Non-Essential’ Parts of Government That Shut Down Are Actually Quite Essential (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konzcal breaks down some of the services government usually provides, the absences of which can cause the country real harm. It's not all museums and panda cams: it's trade, research, and critical pieces of the social safety net.

Shutdown Prompts Rare Government Mix: Imagination and Laughter (ProPublica)

Kim Barker reports on one side effect of the shutdown: conferences that scheduled non-essential federal employees as presenters. One analyst for Health and Human Services went so far as to record a presentation before going on furlough, to fill in for himself.

Other Ways to Get Your Jobs Data (NYT)

Thanks to the shutdown, there was no official jobs report on the first Friday of October. Catherine Rampell lists some of the alternative measures, which are usually overshaded by the Department of Labor but are all we have right now.

The Most Often Repeated Fact About US Debt is Wrong (Quartz)

Matt Phillips points out that depending on what definition of a default you use, the U.S. has defaulted on its debt up to three times in the past. But non of those situations look anything like the debt ceiling question today, which would be a "voluntary" default.

Boehner Says He Doesn't Want to Default, But That's 'The Path We're On' (NY Mag)

While Friday's Daily Digest linked to a New York Times piece indicating that Boehner would not allow a default, now Margaret Hartmann reports that the Speaker is saying otherwise. He's apparently no longer willing to step around his own party.

Here's The Uncomfortable Answer To Whether Treasury Can 'Prioritize' Payments In The Event Of A Debt Ceiling Breach (Business Insider)

Joe Weisenthal explains that the Treasury is unsure if it's even possible to priotiize interest payments in order to avoid a default - and even if it is possible, the legality is questionable too.

At a Nissan Plant in Mississippi, a Battle to Shape the U.A.W.’s Future (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse reports on the U.A.W.'s continued attempts to organize Southern auto plants. The union is taking an international strategy, having union members worldwide pressure Nissan and drawing support from Brazil to South Africa to Japan.

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Daily Digest - October 2: Partisanship Shouldn't Hurt the Party

Oct 2, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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What We Need to Fix Congress: More Partisanship (TNR)

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What We Need to Fix Congress: More Partisanship (TNR)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Mark Schmitt argues that the Republican party is actually acting in a strongly non-partisan manner right now. A focus on individual power over party power created the divides within the GOP that are fueling the shutdown.

Just What Are the Republicans Thinking? (Atlantic Wire)

Philip Bump looks at four possible rationalizations that Republicans may have used when they cast votes leading to the shutdown. None of these frames quite hold up as logical under scrutiny, probably because there's nothing logical happening here.

House GOP Pushes Piecemeal Approach as Democrats Stand Firm (NYT)

Jonathan Weisman reports that the GOP plans to push piece-by-piece spending bills today, funding just a few non-essential programs. Maybe they think that voters will stop blaming Republicans for the shutdown if the National Zoo's panda cam comes back online.

Democrats Should Reject a "Clean" CR (Slate)

Matt Yglesias suggests that now that government has shutdown, the Democrats should insist on a continuing resolution that increases the debt ceiling, or abolishes it all together. We don't need to go through this again in just two weeks.

U.S. Shutdown Has Other Nations Confused and Concerned (BBC News)

Anthony Zurcher explains why the international community is just so confused by what's happening in the U.S. right now. Almost no other country has a system of governance that makes a shutdown possible - which might be a good idea.

Shutdown Will Cost U.S. Economy $300 Million a Day, IHS Says (Bloomberg)

Jeanna Smialek and Ian Katz explain an assortment of estimates on the cost of the shutdown. There are losses to GDP, furloughed workers cutting spending, and slowed consumer confidence - not to mention market fluctuations.

The Ethic of Marginal Value (Jacobin)

Peter Frase challenges the common idea that labor follows, and should follow, standard models of supply and demand. Labor is not just another good, because labor is people, which requires separating the right to a basic standard of living from the labor a person does.

New on Next New Deal

Challenging the 'New Normal' of Violence in the U.S.

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Equal Justice Erik Lampmann argues for our ability to change the culture of violence in the U.S. He thinks that the progressive movement can take this on, and in fact has already started a lot of work that can be seen as anti-violence.

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Daily Digest - September 30: A Bad Policy News Moment

Sep 30, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The House’s Food Stamps Cuts Aren’t Just Cruel. They’re Dumb. (WaPo)

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The House’s Food Stamps Cuts Aren’t Just Cruel. They’re Dumb. (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal explains why the GOP's plan to require states to follow a $2,000 assets test for SNAP eligibility is bad policy. Assets tests create poverty traps, forcing families to avoid saving in order to stay afloat.

Countdown to Shutdown: A Primer on Where Budget Wrangling Stands (The Atlantic)

David A. Graham writes an update on what's happened in Congress over the weekend. So far, Republicans have been unwilling to pass a clean continuing resolution in the House, and the schedule for today allows only ten hours of legislative work time.

Who Will Notice a US Government Shut Down? Public Workers, Foreign Governments and People With the Flu (Quartz)

Tim Fernholz lays out who will feel the immediate effects of a government shutdown on October 1, which looks exceedingly likely. The less obvious groups include sick people, since the CDC will stop tracking epidemics, and anyone who planned to buy a house in October.

This Week in Poverty: Five Things You Might Have Missed on 'Poverty Day' (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann looks at five points from the U.S. Census poverty data that weren't covered by mainstream media. Most strikingly, instituting a monthly benefit for every child as is common in other developed countries could nearly eliminate child poverty in the U.S.

I Worked All Week for Free?!: The Horrifying, True Story of $0 Paychecks (Salon)

Josh Eidelson explains why a group of guest workers on H-2B visas are striking and putting pressure on Florida politicians to reform labor laws. After putting in a full week, these workers are charged rent that is greater then their earnings - and the boss is also the landlord.

Viewpoint: The Decline of Unions Is Your Problem Too (TIME)

Eric Liu explains why every American is harmed by the lowest rate of union membership in 97 years. Organized labor used to keep the economy healthier; today, the people setting the rules are only focused on shareholder profits.

New on Next New Deal

"Inequality for All" is "The Progressive Economic Narrative: The Movie"

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch reviews the new film starring Robert Reich, which articulates the narrative that progressive economists have been pushing through Reich's humor and passion, as well as profiles of families scarred by the new economy.

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Daily Digest - September 26: Watch Out for Default

Sep 26, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Default Notes (NYT)

Paul Krugman is concerned by the seeming non-response from markets to the possibility of a government default in mid-October. Shouldn't big business be worrying about the possibility of another recession, cuts to Federal spending, and a plunging dollar?

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Default Notes (NYT)

Paul Krugman is concerned by the seeming non-response from markets to the possibility of a government default in mid-October. Shouldn't big business be worrying about the possibility of another recession, cuts to Federal spending, and a plunging dollar?

You Really Ought to Be More Terrified of the Debt Ceiling (The Atlantic)

Derek Thompson points out that while a shutdown would have predictable effects, we have no idea what will happen if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling. It's unclear if there's even a way for the government to prioritize payments in such a situation.

How One Stroke of the Pen Could Lift Wages for Millions (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff presents two possible executive orders that would raise the low wages of two million federally contracted workers. Many of these workers in DC are striking again, this time rallying outside the White House.

Thousands of Grocery Workers Vote on Strike Authorization (The Nation)

Allison Kilkenny reports on a United Food and Commercial Workers vote this week that could lead to strikes if contract negotiations with major grocery chains break down. The biggest concern is health insurance for part-time workers who are union members.

Some Public Companies are Divulging More Details About Their Political Contributions (WaPo)

Dina ElBoghdady reports that due to mounting pressure from shareholders and threats of lawsuits, some large publicly traded companies are starting to disclose more of their political donations. The SEC is deciding whether to step in and mandate such disclosures.

Insight: Wal-Mart 'Made in America' drive follows suppliers' lead (Reuters)

Jessica Wohl and James B. Kelleher argue that for all the stars-and-stripes PR, Walmart's decision to buy more American-made goods is all business. U.S. made products have lower shipping costs and no tariffs, which improves the mega-retailer's bottom line.

SEC Wins Big Fine From JPMorgan but Execs Skate Free (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisinger argues that even though JPMorgan is paying a large settlement for its wrongdoing in the London Whale case, the public still loses. Unless the Volcker Rule is written with serious disclosure requirements, executives will continue to be in the clear.

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Daily Digest - September 19: All Eyes on Worker Centers

Sep 19, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Industry Groups Vow to Expose Union-Backed Worker Centers (The Hill)

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Industry Groups Vow to Expose Union-Backed Worker Centers (The Hill)

Kevin Bogardus spoke to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren, who says that newly tightened partnerships between unions and worker centers will result in heightened scrutiny. As nonprofits instead of unions, worker centers fall under different laws, and some industry groups don't like it.

Middle-Class Decline Mirrors The Fall Of Unions In One Chart (HuffPo)

Caroline Fairchild pulls a graph from a recent Center for American Progress report that shows the middle-class share of income decreasing right along with union membership. Correlation is not causation, but that doesn't make the image less striking.

Congress and the Budget: Holding Middle-Class America Hostage (The Guardian)

Jana Kasperkevic looks at a Congressional Budget Office report that proves that Congress's recent actions, like sequestration, have been hurting the economy. Their current inaction has the potential to be just as harmful as the economy continues to lose ground.

Two Charts That Show Why Another Debt Ceiling Fight Is A Very Bad Idea (Business Insider)

Josh Barro reminds us why Congress should just authorize raising the debt ceiling without a fight. Last time, American debt was downgraded, the stock market plunged, and consumer confidence fell, all things we really don't need again.

The Fed Decides the Economy Still Sucks (NY Mag)

Kevin Roose reports on the Federal Reserve announcement that there will be no tapering just yet. He says this shows how strongly doves like Janet Yellen are reorienting Fed priorities towards creating new jobs.

Fed Favorite Janet Yellen Is No Dove—and That's a Good Thing (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien points out that while Yellen is called dovish today for her focus on unemployment over inflation, in the Clinton years she was a staunch hawk. Her willingness to shift strategies based on facts only confirms her strengths as a central banker.

New on Next New Deal

The Digital Divide is Holding Young New Yorkers Back

Nell Abernathy looks at a study commissioned by the Manhattan Borough President and the New York City Comptroller on Internet access in public schools. 75 percent of NYC public schools only have access at 10 mbps or less, and the slower access is concentrated in poorer neighborhoods.

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Daily Digest - September 13: Labor for Healthier Politics

Sep 13, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Joe Stiglitz: The People Who Break the Rules Have Raked in Huge Profits and Wealth and It's Sickening Our Politics (Alternet)

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Joe Stiglitz: The People Who Break the Rules Have Raked in Huge Profits and Wealth and It's Sickening Our Politics (Alternet)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz addressed the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles earlier this week. Alternet has the transcript, and the video is available on Youtube.

Trumka's Ploy (TAP)

Harold Meyerson argues that the AFL-CIO President was intentionally radical in his suggestions prior to the convention. That way, he got the reform he wanted: non-union workers' groups welcomed into labor, and more permanent partnerships with progressive allies.

The Rise of the New New Left (The Daily Beast)

Peter Beinart uses the NYC mayoral race as emblematic of a new political generation, one that sees progressive values as more than just ideals. The group coming of age under this economic crisis, he says, is shifting the political conversation to an anti-corporate, populist message.

  • Roosevelt Take: Many of Beinart's claims about the Millennial political generation line up with the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's findings in Government By and For Millennial America, which discusses what kind of government Millennials want.

Mayor Gray Vetoes ‘Living Wage’ Bill Aimed at Wal-Mart, Setting up Decisive Council Vote (WaPo)

Mike DeBonis reports on the Washington, DC mayor's veto of the Large Retailer Accountability Act. Mayor Gray called for a city-wide minimum wage increase instead, but didn't specify an amount he would support.

How Wal-Mart Keeps Wages Low (WaPo)

Josh Eidelson examines how Wal-Mart discourages workers from organizing so that they won't have to raise wages. With a model built on the lowest possible prices, higher wages would presumably cut into the all-important shareholder profits.

Can the Government Actually Do Anything About Inequality? (NYT)

Tom Edsall looks at a number of studies to question what, if anything, government could do to reduce economic inequality. He sees policy tied to the deepening and spreading of inequality, which presumably means policy could work in the other direction as well.

Congress Searches For A Shutdown-Free Future (NPR)

Frank James reports on the steps being taken in Congress to negotiate away from a potential government shutdown. The Republicans are finding themselves stymied by Tea Partiers, for whom a 42nd symbolic repeal of Obamacare isn't good enough.

New on Next New Deal

The 1 Percent Took Home the Largest Share of Income Since 1928 Last Year

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal points out that the 1 percent's share of all income has vastly exceeded pre-Recession levels. This trend makes it hard to say that everyone in the U.S. wants policy change to help strengthen the recovery.

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Daily Digest - September 12: Reducing Inequality Isn't Impossible

Sep 12, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The Richest Nab The Greatest Share of Income Recovered (All In With Chris Hayes)

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The Richest Nab The Greatest Share of Income Recovered (All In With Chris Hayes)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz discusses the ways that the labor market and financial systems have contributed to income inequality's growth. He talks about short-term solutions, like appointing a Fed chair who will focus on full employment.

Report: The Rich Are Now Richer Than Ever (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger reports on a study showing that the vast bulk of the recovery has gone to the wealthiest Americans. Rising corporate profits and stock prices don't help the middle and lower classes.

Moving Past the Low-Wage Social Contract (Reuters)

Josh Freedman argues that for decades our social contract has used tax credits and subsidies to help low wage workers and encourage lower prices, and it isn't working. Tax credits don't reduce income inequality or increase income mobility.

Top California Lawmakers Back Raising Minimum Wage (NYT)

With the leaders of the legislature and the governor backing the bill, Ian Lovett reports that California is almost certain to pass the nation's highest minimum wage by Friday. The bill will raise the minimum wage to $9 on July 1, 2013, and to $10 on January 1, 2016.

The Real Reason the Poor Go Without Bank Accounts (Atlantic Cities)

Lisa Servon discusses her research on why some people prefer check cashers, despite the fees involved. She finds that check cashers may serve people living on the edge better, because there's no risk of cascading fees for overdrawn accounts.

Government-Shutdown Crisis Proceeding on Schedule (TAP)

Paul Waldman reports that if Tea Party Republicans have their way, we'll be headed for a shutdown in October. Of course, that isn't going to help the GOP's reputation with voters, but defunding Obamacare is more important then keeping government programs funded.

Five Years After the Crisis, These 13 Charts Show What’s Fixed and What Isn’t. (WaPo)

Neil Irwin presents data on what has and hasn't changed in the five years since Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. He claims that this data makes a persuasive argument that today's financial system is more stable then before.

New on Next New Deal

Three Graphs That Show Why Inequality Matters in the New York City Mayoral Race

Nell Abernathy, Program Manager for the Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative, shares some charts that explain why inequality (or as Mayor Bloomberg puts it, "class warfare") is so important in the NYC mayoral race.

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Daily Digest - September 11: "What Is Going On With This Internet Thing?"

Sep 11, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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New Mockumentary Addresses Net Neutrality (Marketplace)

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New Mockumentary Addresses Net Neutrality (Marketplace)

Ben Johnson discusses the new mockumentary The Internet Must Go with Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford, who is featured. The film, available on YouTube, looks at the question of "what is going with this Internet thing" from a Colbert-esque perspective.

Verizon Challenges Open Internet Rules in Court (U.S. News & World Report)

Tom Risen spoke to Crawford about Verizon v. FCC, which will determine whether the FCC can require ISPs to maintain net neutrality. Crawford sees Verizon's desire for "VIP" website clients, who pay for priority access, as antithetical to the idea of the Internet.

The Rich Get Richer Through the Recovery (NYT)

Annie Lowrey reports on an updated study that shows that the wealthiest American earners took record-setting percentages of the country's total income in 2012. Overall, the 1 percent have captured about 95 percent of income gains in the recovery.

5 Years Later, We've Learned Nothing From the Financial Crisis (The Atlantic)

James Kwak asks why there hasn't been significant change in financial regulation. Financial stability lacks public support, and without the structural reforms that were discussed in 2009 and 2010, he thinks it's just a matter of when the next crisis hits.

How the Cult of Shareholder Value Wrecked American Business (WaPo)

Steven Pearlstein argues that there is no historical basis for the supposed imperative for companies to maximize short-term shareholder profits. He suggests policy changes that could influence corporate behavior toward other values, like social welfare and long-term profits.

Unions—Not Just for Middle-Aged White Guys Anymore (TAP)

Harold Meyerson reports that this week's AFL-CIO convention is the first he's attended that looks like union membership, which is less white and less male then ever before. He's also excited by a new emphasis on community coalition building.

US Labor Secretary: 'The American Workplace Has Evolved' (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson spoke to Thomas Perez following his speech at the AFL-CIO convention yesterday. They discuss the changes in the American workplace to include home-based work, and ways in which labor law can respond to that shift.

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Daily Digest - September 10: Labor Looks for Growth

Sep 10, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Union Chief Calls for a 'Reawakening' (The Hill)

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Union Chief Calls for a 'Reawakening' (The Hill)

Kevin Bogardus looks at the AFL-CIO's plan to reinvigorate the labor movement. He speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren, who says that giving more organizations membership in the federation is meant to signal a desire to make the movement broader.

Verizon-F.C.C. Court Fight Takes On Regulating Net (NYT)

Edward Wyatt speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford, who asks whether the U.S. government has good reason to keep the Internet open and accessible. She says yes, as does the F.C.C., but Verizon claims that limiting Internet access is free speech.

‘Our agenda is America’s agenda,’ Warren Tells Unions (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff looks at Senator Warren's speech at the AFL-CIO convention on Sunday, in which she called for a minimum wage increase, stricter financial regulation, and more. It's difficult to disagree with the AFL-CIO President's sentiment: "If we could only clone her."

Indiana Right-to-Work Law Ruled Unconstitutional by State Judge (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Andrew Harris reports on the ruling, which overturned a law making it a crime to charge union dues as a condition of employment. It turns out that it's unconstitutional to require a union to provide services to workers without compensation.

The Demolition of Brewster-Douglass and Our Abandonment of the Working Poor (Pacific Standard)

Anna Clark looks at the history of the first federally funded public housing project for African Americans, which has its origins in the New Deal. She sees the shift from public housing to Section 8 vouchers as part of a larger policy shift that ignores the needs of the poor.

Left With Nothing (WaPo)

Michael Sallah, Debbie Cenziper, and Steven Rich investigate a DC practice of selling liens on delinquent property tax bills, which has led to over 500 foreclosures. In one case, a 76 year old man with dementia lost the home he had owned outright for 20 years over an $134 tax bill.

Republicans Try to Cut Food Stamps as 15% of U.S. Households Face Hunger (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissmann reports that while the economy is slowly recovering, food insecurity is holding steady. Meanwhile, the GOP wants to cut at least $40 billion from SNAP over the next ten years, which would kick 4 to 6 million Americans off the rolls.

The Cost of Cash, for the Rich and the Poor (The New Yorker)

David Wolman looks at a study on the costs of obtaining cash, in time and money. Low-income individuals spend more time and more money obtaining their money then anyone else, and they can't really spare the change.

 

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Daily Digest - September 3: Labor Takes Center Stage

Sep 3, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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A Dramatic Display of Labor's Power (Melissa Harris-Perry)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren points out the differences in how stakeholders discuss the fast food strikes. The restaurant industry talks about digging into the pockets of small business owners; the workers want a fair share of massive corporate profits.

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A Dramatic Display of Labor's Power (Melissa Harris-Perry)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren points out the differences in how stakeholders discuss the fast food strikes. The restaurant industry talks about digging into the pockets of small business owners; the workers want a fair share of massive corporate profits.

Politics, Race, and the Future of the U.S. Labor Movement (Democracy)

Dorian Warren considers the ways that race and region fit into the labor economy of the U.S., where workers of color make lower wages and union power is focused in Democrat-leaning states. The limits of labor's power are more apparent within these boundaries.

'No one should have to work for free': Is This the End of the Unpaid Internship? (NBC News)

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz suggests that recent lawsuits against employers by unpaid interns could signal the beginning of the end of this practice. As unpaid internships get more media attention, companies are taking notice.

How America's Minimum Wage Really Stacks Up Globally (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissmann compares various minimum wages using "purchasing power parity," which takes into account differences in local prices. PPP makes the U.S. minimum wage look a little better compared to other wealthy nations, but not great.

Why Isn't Every Monday Like Labor Day? (HuffPo)

Arthur Delaney looks at the historical trend of shortening work days and work weeks, and wonders why that progression has stalled. Shorter work weeks or work sharing could be ways to reduce unemployment, but aren't being seriously considered.

  • Roosevelt Take: Work sharing was one of the ideas discussed at the Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative's conference, "A Bold Approach to the Jobs Emergency," back in June. Transcripts and video from all the sessions are now available.

Love for Labor Lost (NYT)

Paul Krugman questions why Republicans cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the worker on Labor Day. As he sees it, they refuse to respect those who work for a living, but aren't wealthy, because without wealth everyone's a "taker."

How the Fed Chair Race Became a Public Circus, and Why it Matters (WaPo)

Neil Irwin says that shifts in political media and White House mismanagement have contributed to the arguments over the next Fed chair. The far more public role of the position in recent years makes this appointment even more politically charged.

This Week in Poverty: John Lewis, Barack Obama and the New March (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann says that it isn't enough when President Obama talks about wages and working conditions. Executive order could ensure workers under federal contracts get a living wage and extend minimum wage protections to home care workers.

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