Sister Simone Campbell Shows Us Freedom of Worship is a Bipartisan Value

Oct 10, 2013Jacqueline Van de Velde
On Wednesday, October 16, the Roosevelt Institute will present the 2013 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards, honoring individuals and organizations whose work exemplifies FDR's vision of democracy. Click here to RSVP for the free public ceremony.

On Wednesday, October 16, the Roosevelt Institute will present the 2013 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards, honoring individuals and organizations whose work exemplifies FDR's vision of democracy. Click here to RSVP for the free public ceremony. Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow Jacqueline Van de Velde weighs in on the significance of awarding Sister Simone Campbell the Freedom of Worship Medal and why religious values are bipartisan.

On January 6, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered the annual State of the Union address to Congress, in which he presented an argument for American involvement in World War II. In assisting Britain, Roosevelt claimed, America was fighting to protect universal freedoms, shared by all global citizens. Roosevelt identified four freedoms that America would protect: the freedom of speech, the freedom from want, the freedom from fear, and the freedom of worship.

Today, the Roosevelt Institute recognizes these freedoms as the foundation of its own policy work through the Four Freedoms Center as well as the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network and Pipeline, but it also honors the important work being done by others with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards. Among this year’s impressive group of laureates, the most compelling to me is Sister Simone Campbell, the recipient of the Freedom of Worship Medal.

Sister Campbell and her work with NETWORK and Nuns on the Bus remind us that the religious beliefs that individuals hold, and that influence their policy decisions and preferences, don’t belong to one side of the aisle. These values can be translated across the political spectrum. Sister Campbell’s Catholic faith motivated her decision to drive around the county to organize individuals around opposition to Paul Ryan’s budget and around support for immigration reform. She delivered remarks at the Democratic National Convention. She was interviewed multiple times on The Colbert Report. And, at the core of what she is doing, her Catholic faith informs her progressive beliefs.

Talking about “freedom of worship” in an explicitly progressive space can cause some to recoil. Many people associate religion with a more conservative agenda and assume that working to protect it is incongruous with progressive ideals. Others assume it’s an issue of the past, something our forefathers had to care about, but something that’s been long resolved. But I would argue that the freedom of – and from – belief is just as relevant today as it was when President Roosevelt identified it a freedom important enough for America to fight a terrible war to ensure its protection.

As teaching assistant for the Roosevelt Scholars class at the University of Georgia, I believe it’s important for my students to create policies that are founded on data. However, after they propose topics for research, we pause and take time to identify the values underlying their choices. The lesson that I want my students to learn is that no matter how much we attempt to separate ourselves from the policies that we are suggesting, the inherent beliefs that we hold in the core of our being will influence the kinds of policy change that we want to see in the world.

For many people, those core beliefs are influenced by their faith. In the United States, we have a Constitutional right to practice, or choose not to practice, religion as we see fit. Religion plays a huge role in American culture, politics, and society. According to a recent report by the Pew Research Forum’s Religion and Public Life Project, 83.1 percent of all American adults identify themselves as part of a religious tradition, while 16.1 percent identify themselves as unaffiliated with a specific religious tradition. According to the same study, Americans also exercise their freedom to explore religion; 28 percent of American adults have left the religion in which they were raised in favor of either another religious tradition or to no tradition at all. Thanks to the First Amendment, we are allowed to define for ourselves our core beliefs and values.

That right to define our own beliefs is also protected by international law. With assistance from Eleanor Roosevelt, religious freedom was first recognized as a fundamental human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Since then, it has been reaffirmed as a human right within the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as within several other agreements and declarations. However, according to the Pew Forum, one-third of states restrict their citizens’ freedoms of religion to a high or very high degree. Seventy percent of the world’s population lives within the states with the highest restrictions on religious freedom. State restrictions on freedom of religion can range from apostasy laws to restrictions on missionaries to restrictions on worship, and individuals face punishments ranging from fines to imprisonment to even death for exploring their own beliefs. 

On the other hand, when states allow for religious freedom, they also tend to improve political liberty, prosperity, and economic development. According to Brian Grim and Roger Finke in The Price of Freedom Denied, “Wherever religious freedom is high, there tends to be fewer incidents of armed conflict, better health outcomes, higher levels of earned income, and better educational opportunities for women.” Improving freedom of religion means an improvement in the global economy, increased security, and better job prospects for women. And those are issues that I think everyone – regardless of which side of the aisle you sit on, regardless of whether you identify as progressive or conservative, or whether you identify as religious or not religious – can identify as important.

While the work that we do to address religious freedom abroad is construed as a protection of human rights, debates over religious freedom at home, from the construction of the Islamic Cultural Center near the World Trade Center to the requirement that religious employers provide birth control for their employees, should be viewed through the same lens. Religion and the values acquired through religion – or through a choice not to pursue religion – can inform either progressive or conservative policy.  Likewise, promoting freedom of worship should be a bipartisan issue, and it is gratifying to see an explicitly progressive organization like the Roosevelt Institute embrace that idea through the Freedom of Worship Medal.

Jacqueline Van de Velde is the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's Senior Fellow for Defense and Diplomacy and a senior at the University of Georgia.

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The Shutdown Shows the GOP Can't Accept Defeat in the War on Women

Oct 2, 2013Andrea Flynn

When the GOP attempts to deny women access to contraception in the lead-up to a government shutdown, it’s hard to see how the party hopes to regain women’s support.

Yesterday the federal government shut down for the first time in two decades due, in part, to the GOP’s growing opposition to contraception. Republicans are intent on rolling back women's rights, and this time they are holding the federal government hostage in an attempt to advance their agenda.

When the GOP attempts to deny women access to contraception in the lead-up to a government shutdown, it’s hard to see how the party hopes to regain women’s support.

Yesterday the federal government shut down for the first time in two decades due, in part, to the GOP’s growing opposition to contraception. Republicans are intent on rolling back women's rights, and this time they are holding the federal government hostage in an attempt to advance their agenda.

With less than a day until the government would shut it doors, House Republicans put forth a spending bill that would enable employers, universities, and health insurance companies to deny coverage for contraception based on moral or religious beliefs. The bill would delay the “contraceptive mandate” – an Affordable Care Act provision that requires coverage of contraceptive and reproductive health services without co-pays – until January 2015. More broadly, the bill would delay the implementation of most ACA provisions for another year and would repeal a tax central to the law’s financing. Of course, delaying the law by a year is simply an attempt to overturn it altogether. Even Mitt Romney, who as Governor of Massachusetts implemented the very health overhaul on which the ACA is modeled, said a delay is the most strategic path to repeal.

The past few years have been an exercise in Republican tenacity as the party attempts to sink Obama's landmark domestic policy achievement. The fact that Obama won a second term in a decisive victory and that the U.S. Congress passed Obamacare into law and the U.S. Supreme Court deemed it constitutional is apparently meaningless.  

The GOP, hijacked by the right wing of its party, is redefining what it means to lose. Elizabeth Warren said it best on Sunday:

In a democracy, hostage tactics are the last resort for those who can’t win fights through elections, can’t win fights in Congress, can’t win fights for the presidency, and can’t win their fights in the courts. For this right wing minority, hostage-taking is all they have left: a last gasp for those who cannot cope with the realities of our democracy.

Since 2010, Republicans have voted 43 times to overturn the ACA. They have challenged the contraceptive mandate ad nauseam, have protested the employer mandate, and at the state level have refused to participate in the Medicaid expansion that would extend benefits to millions of uninsured, low-income individuals.

And President Obama, to the consternation of some on the left, has made concessions in hopes of advancing his overall agenda. Earlier this year, he compromised on the contraceptive mandate by enabling a broader group of self-defined faith-based organizations to qualify for a religious exemption, creating an accommodation where employees of those organizations can obtain full family planning coverage directly from insurance companies. He has responded to complaints from business lobbyists by agreeing to delay the employer mandate until 2015. (That provision requires employers with more than 50 full-time employees to offer affordable coverage for their workers, including children up to age 26.)

Republicans emphatically insist they are acting in the best interest of the American people. They aren’t. The ACA is good for women and for the entire nation. It has already expanded contraceptive coverage to millions of women, and within the next three years, approximately 13 million more uninsured women will be able to access affordable family planning and reproductive health services. The law will enable the majority of American women to access annual well-woman visits, screenings for cancer and STDs, maternal health care, emergency contraception, and pregnancy testing and counseling. Because of the ACA, individuals with pre-existing conditions will be able to get coverage and gender discrimination by insurance providers will be illegal. This law represents the most significant advancement in women’s reproductive health in nearly a century.

The unfolding debacle goes hand in hand with the reasons the GOP lost the women's vote in 2012 and is partly why they will not seize it back any time in the near future. Earlier this year, I wrote about the party’s self-reflective autopsy examining why and how Democrats carried the women’s vote by 36 points in the presidential election. They blamed their loss on a failed communications strategy but found little to be objectionable in the substance of their arguments. This week’s shutdown starkly illustrates the GOP’s inability to accept that the majority of Americans do not share their vision for the nation.

It’s becoming increasingly impossible for the GOP to argue that they care much at all about the women’s vote. Afterall, 69 percent of Republican women reported being opposed to a government shutdown, and 67 percent of registered voters believe that all workers should be allowed to access health care services regardless of their employer’s beliefs. And it turns out the only place contraception is controversial is in the halls of Congress; it is nearly universally accepted and used by Americans.

The GOP likes to say the "war on women" is a Democratic canard used to manipulate women at the voting booth. If only that were the case.

Andrea Flynn is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. She researches and writes about access to reproductive health care in the United States. You can follow her on Twitter @dreaflynn.

 

Pills and calendar banner image via Shutterstock.com

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

Oct 1, 2013Erik Lampmann

The United States's culture of violence is tightly tied to the marginalization of some social groups, but the progressive movement is already doing social justice work that is anti-violence, and could do even more.

If these past several weeks have taught us anything, it’s that we live within a culture of violence.

The United States's culture of violence is tightly tied to the marginalization of some social groups, but the progressive movement is already doing social justice work that is anti-violence, and could do even more.

If these past several weeks have taught us anything, it’s that we live within a culture of violence.

Two weeks ago, a shooting rampage through the Washington, DC Navy Yard led to the death of more than ten people. In that time, we also learned of the death of 24-year old Jonathan Ferrell. Seeking assistance after a car crash, Ferrell knocked on the door of a nearby home. A startled resident called the police who, suspecting malicious intent, ended up shooting Ferrell ten times. In the same week, President Obama’s credible threats of military intervention and intercontinental ballistic missile strikes were argued as the only way for our nation’s diplomats to engage in ‘constructive conversations’ about Syrian President Bashir al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against opposition groups in his country’s on-going civil war.

No one can deny that the past several days have led to heart ache, distrust of others, and true fear. As we see endless media clips of armed responders, grieving family and friends, and panicked on-lookers, we feel destabilized and shaken.

At the same time, these traumatic episodes are but scenes in an ever-unfolding saga of American structural violence within which we are all embedded. This institutional violence is committed against marginalized social groups rendered ‘unworthy’ of the public’s concerns. Yet these groups are systematically harassed, over-policed, and beaten each day. I speak here of the thousands of undocumented immigrants incarcerated in privately-owned detention centers and subjected to dehumanization of the worst kind. I speak of the black and brown youth stopped, interrogated, and over-incarcerated arbitrarily by racially biased police forces. I speak of queer people trapped in the prisons of their closets, whose gender is policed on the street, and whose desires defy identity politics’ categorizations.

You see, the American style of violence is complicated. Over a lifetime or in the blink of an eye, these actions, policies, and institutions function to deprive individuals and social groups of their self-determination. Exercised through criminal justice policies and war, the use of violence as a display of authority and power is bent up in larger questions around American inclusion, exclusion, and exceptionalism.

It was therefore a breath of fresh air to see the President reflect an understanding of these interconnected systems of violence in his processing of the DC Navy Yard shootings. In his remarks last Sunday, President Obama observed, “Alongside the anguish of these American families, alongside the accumulated outrage so many of us feel, sometimes I fear there’s a creeping resignation. That these tragedies are just somehow the way it is. That this is somehow the new normal.” While it’s not clear whether President Obama will put these values to work through a robust policy agenda, it is heartening to see our chief executive strike out against widespread disengagement from nuanced efforts to understand and combat violence in American life.

This is not to say that many individuals, communities, and organizations are not already working on combating violence in all of its forms.  However, the progressive movement’s conceptualization of violence, the ways it manifests in communities, and its effects or results leaves much to be desired.

What the progressive movement must do is unite these issue-based voices under the umbrella of true anti-violence and peace building work. If we could unify these voices within one narrative of healthy, strong, and safe communities, we could leverage our collective voice more effectively at the national level, creating a groundswell of progressive energy. If we were to take, for instance, the dedication of the Immigrant Youth Movement to stopping deportations, GetEqual’s militancy on behalf of queer employment and housing nondiscrimination, and the Dream Defenders’ holistic critique of structural racialization in our criminal justice system, we would see that a variety of social justice efforts are, in fact, ‘anti-violence’ movements.

We need to acknowledge that violence rears its head every time discrimination manifests itself, every time someone fails to treat their fellow human being with dignity. Injecting an expansive understanding of violence into the debates on healing, safety, and security emerging after these crises is the only way we can hope to combat other targeted attacks in the future. In some cases, this poses the most immediate challenge: to process our own emotional duress in episodes of earth-shattering violence through the lens of our communities’ long-term vitality and connectedness.

From birth many of us have been taught that violence or coercion is the most efficient way of shoring up power and achieving our goals. From the playground bully to the patriarchal employer to the strategies of geopolitics, the primacy accorded to violence (or frequently, the threat of violence) has enormous caché.

As we watch our progressive family struggle to respond to instances of trauma, I empathize with those who wish to isolate these events as individual tears in the moral fabric of communities, states, and the nation. Yet it’s important to view any act of violence within its social, historical, and political context. By digging deep and organizing across interest groups, we have a chance to re-frame the conversation on American violence today. 

Erik Lampmann is the Senior Fellow for Equal Justice within the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network. He studies political theory and French at the University of Richmond. 

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Daily Digest - August 29: Economists' Inspiration in the March on Washington

Aug 29, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

How Dr. King Shaped My Work in Economics (NYT)

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

How Dr. King Shaped My Work in Economics (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz remembers the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and reflects on the gap between the goals and aspirations of that march and what we have accomplished today. A black President, he notes, isn't everything.

NYT (Susan Crawford)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford examines the flaws in a recent New York Times article on high-speed Internet access. Without going into the extremely high costs of Internet access, it missed a big part of the connectivity problem.

Dr. King, Full Employment, and Some Provocative Wage Trends (On The Economy)

Jared Bernstein says Dr. King's was right to call for full employment to reach economic justice . The only progress made towards increasing real wages for African American workers in southern states was in the low unemployment years of the late 1990s.

What Obama Didn’t Say in His March on Washington Speech (The Daily Beast)

Jamelle Bouie thinks that while the President understood the importance of economic justice in the original March on Washington, he left out much of the modern issue. The wealth gap between African-Americans and whites won't be closed with general economic fairness.

Five Reasons for Optimism About Unions This Labor Day (The Hill)

John Logan is excited about the labor movement going into the holiday, because unions are becoming more popular, more flexible, and more open then they have been in some time. It's a conveniently-timed turning point for labor supporters.

Why Business Needs a Stronger Labor Movement (MSNBC)

Timothy Noah argues that the increasing claim of capital on corporate income over labor is destroying growth. Stronger unions would force business back on track by shifting more income to labor, where it belongs if we want the economy to grow.

Another Failed Drug-Test Experiment (Maddow Blog)

Steve Benen reports that Utah is following in the footsteps of Florida by mandating drug screening for welfare applicants. They're also following Florida into failure: the state has spent $30 grand to eliminate only twelve applicants out of thousands.

New on Next New Deal

Fifty Years After the March on Washington, Equality Remains a Dream

Jim Carr, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, writes that we haven't accomplished nearly enough in the past fifty years. Some old problems have been solved, but economic opportunity is still unequal and disproportionately divides along racial lines.

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Fifty Years After the March on Washington, Equality Remains a Dream

Aug 28, 2013Jim Carr

We've made progress on addressing many blatant injustices since 1963, but people of color still don't have an equal opportunity to succeed.

We've made progress on addressing many blatant injustices since 1963, but people of color still don't have an equal opportunity to succeed.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s electrifying speech at that event was inspiring and unforgettable. Those remarks, combined with hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall marching for jobs and freedom, seemed to electrify American society to its core. As President Bill Clinton recently remarked, “I remember thinking that, when it was over, my country would never be the same.”

Over the five decades since the March on Washington, much has changed. No longer do black students require National Guard escorts to enter the school of their choice. No longer are protesters for civil or human rights at risk of being beaten or attacked by dogs for exercising their constitutional right to challenge unfair or otherwise unwise laws.

No longer are jobs and opportunity blatantly denied on the basis of an individual’s race or ethnicity, gender, physical appearance, or sexual preference. No longer are America’s cities burning. And perhaps most significantly, no longer is the office of the President of the United States off-limits to an African American.

Yet in spite of these and many other successes that have been achieved over the past five decades, much of the forward momentum seems unsustainable, or old problems are replaced with new ones that continue to deny opportunities disproportionately to people of color.

Take, for example, the fact that our cities are no longer burning in protest to blatant acts of discrimination and denial of civil rights. While that’s true, the city of Detroit has never recovered from the tumultuous days of the 1960s. In fact, Detroit has continued to decay, literally, into bankruptcy. The city’s official unemployment rate was a staggering 16 percent in April 2013, with a black unemployment rate over 20 percent. And Detroit is not alone among cities with exceptionally high black unemployment rates.

The acceleration of the exodus of non-Hispanic white families from the nation’s inner cities, in part to avoid integration after passage of the major Civil Rights laws, combined with the relocation of manufacturing jobs first to the suburbs and later overseas, has created urban economic deserts that deny opportunities as powerfully as any segregationist policies.

National Guard troops no longer stand in front of school houses to block admission—they do not have to. Racial and ethnic residential segregation in many of the nation’s largest cities is so high that black and Latino students do not live within physical proximity of isolated non-Hispanic white suburban enclaves in sufficient numbers to achieve meaningful school integration.

Furthermore, the cost of college tuition is so high these days that no armed presence is needed to prevent young African Americans or Latinos from entering. The majority of African American and Latino students cannot afford access the nation’s major universities even where they meet the academic standards.

In fact, economic deprivation is so great among blacks and Latinos that race is used as a reliable proxy for exploitation by financial firms. Leading up to the recent collapse of the housing market, subprime lenders disproportionately targeted African American and Latino communities for their reckless and irresponsible high-cost loans. They generated huge profits while originating loans that were designed to fail.

The subsequent loss of homeownership among African Americans and Latinos has been the largest contributor to a staggering loss of wealth for African American and Latino households during the Great Recession. Latino and black households have lost two-thirds and more than half of their net wealth, respectively. The result is that today, the racial wealth gap between blacks and non-Hispanic whites, and Latinos and non-Hispanic whites, is greater than it was two decades ago.

Over the next decade, seven of ten new households will be headed by a person of color. In fact, already, the majority of babies born in America are of color. Yet the majority of their economic futures are not promising.

This dramatic shift in the composition of the nation’s population gives even greater impetus now than was the case a half century ago for America to become a more economically inclusive society. Today, economic equality is as much an issue of economic competitiveness and national security, for example, as it is social justice. After all, how can America maintain its economic and military leadership role in the world if the fastest growing segments of the population, i.e., people of color, remain economically marginalized?

In spite of the success we have achieved as a nation in breaking down the barriers to opportunities based on racial or ethnic bias, we remain far from Dr. King’s dream and vision of a just and equitable society.

Jim Carr is a Distinguished Scholar with The Opportunity Agenda and Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress. He is also co-editor of Segregation: The Rising Costs for America.

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Daily Digest - August 7: Who Owns Your Rental?

Aug 7, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Obama Suggests Re-Examination of America's Renters Policy (All In With Chris Hayes)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal considers some of the implications of the President's housing speech. He notes that any changes to the mortgage markets also affects renters, because someone owns that home too.

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

Obama Suggests Re-Examination of America's Renters Policy (All In With Chris Hayes)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal considers some of the implications of the President's housing speech. He notes that any changes to the mortgage markets also affects renters, because someone owns that home too.

The R-Word (The Daily Show)

Roosevelt Institute Engagement Editor Dante Barry appears in a segment on race relations in America. Dante (who sits on the right, in the front row) brings up the intersectionality of this issue: it's not just black people who face racial discrimination in their daily lives.

Jeff Bezos Can Make Newspapers Profitable (Bloomberg)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford bets that a single large investor, like Bezos, has the best opportunity to make a newspaper succeed in this digital era. She suggests focusing on the local needs and opportunities, which have less competition.

What Should the Minimum Wage Be? (The Week)

Keith Wagstaff speaks to Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch, who agrees with fast-food strikers that $15 an hour is necessary for a worker to do more than survive. Those who approach this question as one of profits instead of people disagree.

President Obama's Amazon Jobs Pitch is Hard to Buy with One Click (The Guardian)

Helaine Olen sees heavy irony in the President's choice to discuss good jobs at an Amazon warehouse, which creates temporary, low-income, unreliable jobs. These aren't jobs to be celebrated, no matter how hard Obama tries to pitch it as such.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch is similarly concerned by the President's attempt to spin Amazon warehouses as good jobs.

L.A. Story (TAP)

Harold Meyerson looks at the work of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. He thinks that their model of organizing workers in their communities and working with municipalities could be a model for labor, or even progressives as a whole, to follow.

California Considers Ending Rule That Penalizes Low-Income Women For Having Kids (ThinkProgress)

Bryce Covert reports that California might remove a limit that prevents families on benefits from getting increases with new children. This rule puts unpleasant limits on poor women's reproductive choices, and punishes children for the sin of being born into poverty.

New on Next New Deal

Whatever Happened to the Economic Policy Uncertainty Index?

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal questions why the Economic Policy Uncertainty Index is falling to 2008 levels, but the recovery isn't speeding up. Mike suggests that this is proof of the limited effects of uncertainty on the economy.

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Policy Note: Can Social Impact Bonds Unlock Private Money for Public Goods?

Aug 5, 2013

Download the policy note (PDF) by Georgia Levenson Keohane

In a new policy note, Roosevelt Institute Fellow Georgia Levenson Keohane analyzes a new model of social entrepreneurship, which utilizes private funds to solve social problems. Social impact bonds finance preventative programs that the government does not have the budget to fund, but raise questions about whether a return-on-investment model is really the best way to approach social needs and if the funding sources affect the work being done.

Download the policy note (PDF) by Georgia Levenson Keohane

In a new policy note, Roosevelt Institute Fellow Georgia Levenson Keohane analyzes a new model of social entrepreneurship, which utilizes private funds to solve social problems. Social impact bonds finance preventative programs that the government does not have the budget to fund, but raise questions about whether a return-on-investment model is really the best way to approach social needs and if the funding sources affect the work being done.

Read the policy note: "Can Social Impact Bonds Unlock Private Money for Public Goods?" by Roosevelt Institute Fellow Georgia Levenson Keohane.

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Daily Digest - August 5: Big Business Fighting for Public Good

Aug 5, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

Can Social Impact Bonds Unlock Private Money for Public Goods? Innovation in Pay-for-Success and Social Finance (Roosevelt Institute)

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

Can Social Impact Bonds Unlock Private Money for Public Goods? Innovation in Pay-for-Success and Social Finance (Roosevelt Institute)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Georgia Levenson Keohane analyzes a new model for solving social ills. Social impact bonds finance preventative programs with private funds, but raise questions about whether a return-on-investment model is best here.

Can Larry Summers Play Nice With Other Financial Regulators? (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal looks at how Summers worked with other regulators when he was Deputy Treasury Secretary, and concludes that Summers as Fed Chair might try to interfere with more aggressive regulators at other agencies.

For Millennials, Leaving the Nest is Hard To Do (LA Times)

Emily Alpert and Ricardo Lopez speak to Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz about how the recession has changed young adults' living arrangements. Nona says that Millennials no longer see the trends that lead them to live at home as temporary.

This Week in Poverty: Chairman Ryan and the Real World (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann reports on testimony by Sister Simone Campbell at a congressional hearing on the War on Poverty last week. Campbell says that religious groups cannot solve poverty due to the scale of the problem, which puts government in a better place to implement solutions.

  • Sister Simone Campbell is one of the honorees at this year's Four Freedoms Awards, which will be presented at a public ceremony on Wednesday, October 16 in New York City.

Fulfilling the Promise of Medicare (HuffPo)

Representative John Conyers and Robert Weissman think that the Affordable Care Act doesn't go far enough. Medicare-for-All would save $350 billion per year, according to a recent study, and fulfill a moral obligation to provide all Americans with healthcare.

Another Reason Janet Yellen Should Run the Fed (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger argues that gender does matter in choosing the next Fed Chair, because there aren't enough women in the senior economic policy jobs. With a well-qualified female candidate, the President should make the barrier-breaking choice.

New on Next New Deal

The Amazon Economy Undercuts Obama's Message

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch was impressed by the content of the President's speech on jobs last week, but not the setting. Amazon warehouses don't provide the good jobs that Obama was talking about, or even a living wage for a single person.

Delaying Abortions: A Harmful Consequence of the Pro-Life Agenda

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn and Director of Research Susan Holmberg look at how new anti-choice laws place serious burdens on women. The unintended consequences included more unplanned pregnancies and more abortions.

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Delaying Abortions: A Harmful Consequence of the Pro-Life Agenda

Aug 2, 2013Andrea FlynnSusan Holmberg

The burdens placed on women's health by new anti-choice laws in the states have unintended consequences: more unplanned pregnancies, more abortions, and more abortions occuring later in pregnancy.

The burdens placed on women's health by new anti-choice laws in the states have unintended consequences: more unplanned pregnancies, more abortions, and more abortions occuring later in pregnancy.

Over the past two years, conservatives have successfully maneuvered around Roe v. Wade to enact sweeping abortion restrictions across the country. In the first half of 2013, lawmakers enacted 43 pieces of legislation restricting abortion access – as many as were enacted during all of 2012. These laws – and the ones that are sure to follow – infringe on women’s rights to access family planning and abortion services, will result in more unplanned pregnancies and therefore more abortions, and are likely to have the unintended consequence of pushing abortions later into pregnancy.

For years women have had to navigate numerous restrictions when they attempt to have an abortion. In deciding Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1991, the Supreme Court overturned Pennsylvania’s spousal notification law but upheld both the parental consent and informed consent statutes on the basis that they did not impose an “undue burden” on women trying to abort their pregnancies. Since then, numerous states have implemented abortion restrictions on the basis that they do not constitute an undue burden.

  • Twenty-six states have waiting periods ranging from 24 hours to 72 hours. In South Dakota, weekends and state holidays do not count towards the 72-hour waiting period, meaning some women would have to wait nearly a week after their first visit before getting an abortion. Ten states have counseling requirements that also necessitate two visits to a clinic.
  • Thirty-eight states require minors to obtain parental consent and/or notification before having an abortion. Many of those states enable young women to obtain judicial bypass, a process many young women are likely to find intimidating and that surely delays the procedure into further into pregnancy.
  • Eleven states require that a physician be present to administer medication abortion, essentially outlawing telemedicine for this purpose.
  • Many states currently restrict abortion coverage in private plans, and others are beginning to impose the same restrictions on plans accessed through the health exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act. The Hyde Amendment already prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions. The result is that women seeking abortion services – particularly low-income women who are un- or under-insured or are covered by Medicaid – must pay out of pocket.

Most recently, anti-choice legislators have added to those regulations even more restrictive policies that make abortion increasingly difficult to access – in some places almost impossible to access – let alone in a timely manner. Over the past few weeks, lawmakers in Texas and North Carolina passed sweeping regulations that threaten to shutter nearly all abortion providers in those states. The Texas law restricts medication abortions, places onerous requirements on physicians who perform abortions, and imposes the increasingly popular and effective TRAP laws (targeted regulations of abortion providers) on providers, requiring them to increase the width of hallways, add janitor closets, expand operating rooms, etc.

Women’s health advocates have argued that these laws will lead to more unplanned pregnancies and result in a greater number of unsafe abortions. It is also likely that women will require abortions later in their pregnancies – the very situation conservatives are legislating against.

TRAP laws have become a favorite strategy of the anti-choice movement and have the effect of closing clinics that actually perform a wide range of reproductive health services. Anti-choice activists and lawmakers often refer to these clinics as if their sole function is performing abortions. In actuality, these clinics are a pillar of our nation’s health infrastructure. They prevent thousands of unwanted pregnancies each year by providing poor women, young women, immigrant women, and women of color low- and no-cost family planning. These clinics provide pregnancy education, testing, and counseling, which enables women who do choose to have an abortion to do so early in pregnancy. It is not hard to imagine that women will have more unintended pregnancies and require abortions later into pregnancy as those providers close their doors. 

The Guttmacher Institute reports that already seven in 10 women who had a second-trimester abortion wanted to do so earlier in pregnancy but were unable to because they could not afford it. Economists who study family planning policy argue that the costs a woman seeking an abortion faces do not only come in the form of dollars, but also in the time required to access an abortion. A 2001 study by Marianne Bitler and Madeline Zavodny shows that state restrictions that impose mandatory waiting periods (in other words, a time cost) also delay abortions into the second trimester. A 1994 study of Mississippi’s mandatory delay laws showed a 17 percent jump in second trimester abortions after the law took effect.

Other research shows that adolescent women and low-income women are more likely to have abortions later in pregnancy. These are the very groups of people who rely on publicly-funded family planning clinics and who are most affected by the new abortion regulations. These studies are relatively dated; given that state-level restrictions have only ramped up since this research was conducted, the number of women delaying their abortions has likely escalated too.

These patterns are only deepened when lawmakers target not only abortion but the full range of family planning and reproductive health services that women rely on to take care of themselves and their families. Over the past two years, family planning providers across the nation have already been forced to decrease staff, cut hours, reduce services, and close as a result of funding restrictions and budget cuts. Under the new wave of restrictions, they will now face further cuts and many will be forced to close.

Anti-choice lawmakers insist their battery of abortion regulations aim to improve the health and safety of women and girls. This is simply not what the outcome will be. Women will experience more pregnancies and have abortions at later gestational ages, which only subjects them to greater financial burdens and much greater health risks. For example, the average charge for a second trimester abortion is double that for the first trimester. In addition, the potential for a major complication or death is also much higher for a second trimester abortion. If that’s not the definition of an undue burden, we don’t know what is.

Andrea Flynn is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. She researches and writes about access to reproductive health care in the United States. You can follow her on Twitter @dreaflynn.

Susan Holmberg is the Director of Research at the Roosevelt Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in economics and studies gender issues, international development, and corporate governance. 

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Daily Digest - August 2: Higher Wages Don't Destroy Fast Food

Aug 2, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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What Happens When Fast Food Actually Pays (The Daily Beast)

Daniel Gross examines burger chains that pay their brand new employees a living wage. Unsurprisingly, high wages can lead to more prosperous companies, and those companies aren't getting the bad press about wage-related strikes.

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

What Happens When Fast Food Actually Pays (The Daily Beast)

Daniel Gross examines burger chains that pay their brand new employees a living wage. Unsurprisingly, high wages can lead to more prosperous companies, and those companies aren't getting the bad press about wage-related strikes.

The Uneven Geography of America's Fast Food Jobs (Atlantic Cities)

Richard Florida breaks down data on the wages and growth of fast food jobs by city. The fast food workers who are striking aren't making the worst wages in their industry; if their wages aren't livable, what does that say for those making even less?

Why Do the People Raising Our Children Earn Poverty Wages? (The Nation)

E. Tammy Kim looks at childcare workers who accept public subsidies, which often results in poverty wages. When subsidies assume only thirty hours of care a week, these care providers don't have many options if they want to keep their clients.

How Vast Error-Prone Databases Are Trashing Our Economic Lives (TAP)

Amy Traub reports on how major databases are keeping people from opening bank accounts and preventing them from accessing credit at the right rates. These mistakes affect too many people, and on too broad a scale, to be ignored.

Wall Street Decimates Black America (Salon)

Laura Gottesdiener explains how the foreclosure crisis has disproportionately hit black neighborhoods, which were targeted by banks for predatory loans. Now, these houses remain empty, and the banks take no responsibility for the effect on the neighborhood.

Sex, Money and Gravitas (NYT)

Paul Krugman argues that the sexist campaigns against Janet Yellen for Fed Chair are also full of bad economic analysis. The Fed hasn't been causing runaway inflation, and Yellen has proven to be far better at economic forecasting then her hawkish peers.

Obama Finally has a Good Economic Idea – too Bad No One's Listening (The Guardian)

Heidi Moore thinks that Obama's grand bargain is a sign that he's ready to make allies instead of enemies in the GOP. Unfortunately, the Republicans don't seem to care either way, so they're still ignoring his ideas.

New on Next New Deal

Delaying Abortions: A Harmful Consequence of the Pro-Life Agenda

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn and Director of Research Susan Holmberg point out that the results of laws restricting abortion access don't follow their proponents' intentions. These laws increase unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and abortions later in pregnancy.

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