Daily Digest - February 28: The Deficit's Going Down. Will the Economy Go With It?

Feb 28, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Federal Budget Deficit Falls to Smallest Level Since 2008 (NYT)

Annie Lowrey reports on the sharp decrease of the deficit, which she ties to growth in tax revenue thanks to the improving economy as well as the surprising slowdown in health care costs.

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Federal Budget Deficit Falls to Smallest Level Since 2008 (NYT)

Annie Lowrey reports on the sharp decrease of the deficit, which she ties to growth in tax revenue thanks to the improving economy as well as the surprising slowdown in health care costs.

Budget Deficits Shrinking at the Expense of Economic Recovery (Blog of the Century)

Andrew Fieldhouse writes that policies focused on growth could have achieved the same reduction of the deficit with a far healthier economy, but instead, we have austerity policies.

The Mobility Myth (New Yorker)

American economic mobility has never been particularly high, says James Surowiecki, so public policy should focus on raising the standard of living of ordinary workers instead.

Governors Move to Block Farm Bill’s Food Stamp Cuts (MSNBC)

By raising heat subsidies linked to food stamp eligibility, the governors of Connecticut and New York have ensured hundreds of thousands of households will get a reprieve from cuts, writes Ned Resnikoff.

Not a Single Home Is for Sale in San Francisco That an Average Teacher Can Afford (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Karen Weise reports that a tight real estate market and dwindling pay for teachers are causing the problem, and it isn't good for the school system when teachers can't afford a place to live.

Why Ivy League Schools Are So Bad at Economic Diversity (The Atlantic)

Robin J. Hayes says that elite universities have a singular view of what a high-achieving applicant looks like on paper – and that view overvalues the opportunities provided by wealth.

Are Unions Necessary? (LA Times)

It's unions, writes Michael Hiltzik, that have secured most of the major workplace protections that help all workers, unionized or not. Who else will push for new improvements to labor law?

New on Next New Deal

Beyond Black History Month: A Roosevelt Institute Reading and Viewing Guide

As Black History Month comes to a close, the Roosevelt Institute suggests books, films, and more to continue the discussion and reflection on race in the U.S.

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Daily Digest - February 27: Raising Wages the Rooseveltian Way

Feb 27, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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FDR Set the Terms for Labor Executive Orders (Reuters)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren praises President Obama for following FDR's path with his recent executive order raising the minimum wage for federally contracted workers..

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FDR Set the Terms for Labor Executive Orders (Reuters)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren praises President Obama for following FDR's path with his recent executive order raising the minimum wage for federally contracted workers..

This Is How You Fix Ailing Public Pensions (Time)

Rana Foroohar draws out some key points from the Roosevelt Institute's conference on the public pensions crisis, including the need for fewer high-risk investments and campaign finance reform.

  • Roosevelt Take: The conference showcased a forthcoming study by Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Rob Johnson, who wrote about additional possible solutions to the pensions crisis.

Christie, Scott Walker and the Assault on Workers’ Pensions (The Nation)

For Republican governors with hopes of the presidency, attacking public pensions under the specter of Detroit is a strategic key, write Bob and Barbara Dreyfuss.

Tom Perkins Is Winning: The Rich Already Vote More (TPM)

William W. Franko, Nathan J. Kelly, and Christopher Witko point out that voter turnout already has a class bias, which results in state governments that are less responsive to public opinion.

Stop Currency Manipulation and Create Millions of Jobs (EPI)

By ending currency manipulation, when countries shift exchange rates to influence the costs of trade, Robert E. Scott says the U.S. would not only create jobs but would also lower the deficit.

The Home Mortgage Business, Where Cheaters Always Seem to Prosper (TAP)

David Dayen explains how Ocwen, a mortgage servicer, has managed to build an entire business around harmful and sometimes even fraudulent behavior toward homeowners.

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Daily Digest - February 24: What We Didn't Bargain For

Feb 24, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Obama is Showing Some Guts on the Budget. Don't Celebrate Just Yet. (TNR)

The president would put chained CPI, a method of calculating Social Security increases that is popular with Republicans, back on the table at any hint of a Grand Bargain, says Danny Vinik.

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Obama is Showing Some Guts on the Budget. Don't Celebrate Just Yet. (TNR)

The president would put chained CPI, a method of calculating Social Security increases that is popular with Republicans, back on the table at any hint of a Grand Bargain, says Danny Vinik.

The Grand Bargain’s Dead. What Now? (MSNBC)

Without a Grand Bargain on the budget, Suzy Khimm says that fundamental disagreements on benefits programs will have to wait until at least after midterm elections, and maybe even until 2016.

Why Wage Hikes Should Be All the Rage (Policy Shop)

As states, cities, and big retailers like Gap Inc. move forward to raise wages, Amy Traub argues that this piecemeal approach helps some workers and keeps the national conversation going.

UAW Demands Labour Board Review Volkswagen Plant Vote (The Guardian)

The appeal focuses on the "firestorm of interference" from outside groups and Tennessee politicians, reports Dominic Rushe. The union lost narrowly, and the appeal could lead to a new election.

Can These College Football Players Actually Unionize? (MoJo)

As football players at Northwestern University begin the unionization fight with a hearing at the Chicago regional National Labor Relations Board, Matt Connolly explains the process and potential complications.

Wisconsin’s Legacy for Unions (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse reports on how a Wisconsin law gutting the powers of public-sector unions to collectively bargain has changed things for those workers. No surprises: it's not looking good.

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

Feb 4, 2014Andrea Flynn

A new report on access to reproductive health care in the Rio Grande Valley highlights the human rights violations happening right in the U.S.

A new report on access to reproductive health care in the Rio Grande Valley highlights the human rights violations happening right in the U.S.

During the past three years, more than 150,000 women in Texas have lost access to reproductive health services, thanks to a relentless barrage of laws and policies that have shuttered 76 family planning clinics across the state. A disproportionate number of those women live in the Rio Grande Valley, a region with extreme health disparities and some of the nation’s highest levels of poverty and unemployment.

Cover of the Nuestro Texas reportA recent report – Nuestra Voz, Nuestra Salud, Nuestro Texas – co-authored by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) illustrates the dire impact that three years of draconian policies have had on women in the valley. During a briefing at the Roosevelt Institute last week, Katrina Anderson, Human Rights Counsel at CRR, and Jessica González-Rojas and Diana Lugo-Martinez, NLIRH’s Executive Director and Senior Director of Community Engagement, shared the report’s findings and conveyed the stories and experiences of the more than 180 local women they have interviewed.

Nuestro Texas stands out because it illustrates the deeply personal impact of the state’s restrictions and regulations, but it is also unique because it frames Texas women’s rights as fundamental human rights issues, using international standards – a framing infrequently used when addressing women’s health in the United States.

Communities across Texas are feeling the acute pain of the rapid destruction of a once robust public health infrastructure, and the most harm has been done along the state’s Southeast border with Mexico. Nine of the Valley’s 32 health clinics have closed, and those remaining open have curtailed hours, reduced staff, increased fees, and eliminated some services. Before the cuts, public clinics in the valley served nearly 20,000 patients. Today they serve just over 5,000.

Nuestro Texas tells the stories of women who now seek care in Mexico, or purchase black-market medications, or forgo family planning and medical care altogether because the barriers of cost, travel, and immigration status are simply too great. Women live with the anxiety of undiagnosed and untreated breast lumps, cervical pain, sexually transmitted diseases, and a host of other adverse health issues.

Beyond declining access to family planning and a full range of women’s health care services, abortion services have all but disappeared in the Valley thanks to the sweeping anti-choice legislation passed last year by the state legislature in Texas. As a result, reports of incidents of self-abortion are becoming commonplace, because without other options women will take the termination of unplanned pregnancies into their own hands, as they did for decades before abortion was legalized in 1973. Even before the 2011 budget cuts and recent abortion restrictions, the estimated rate of self-induced abortion in Texas was more than twice that of the nation overall, and the rate along the border was more than five times greater than the national rate. Recent articles by Andrea Grimes (RH Reality Check) and by Lindsay Bayerstein (The New Republic) illustrate the dire consequences of regulating reproductive health care into obscurity.

Despite the profound stresses women in the valley now endure, at the Roosevelt Institute briefing González-Rojas maintained that they are not simply “victims of systemic barriers.” They are using their voices to advocate for the health and rights of women and families. Outreach workers help navigate immigration and transportation barriers so that women can access needed care in Mexico, if necessary. They host community meetings where women can share their frustrations, fears, and experiences. They teach self-breast exams and educate about the warning signs of sexually transmitted diseases, even though there are few clinics to see women who may need care.

González-Rojas explained that framing women’s rights as human rights has positioned reproductive health as a family and community issue, one that requires multiple voices and solutions to address. Focusing on human rights has empowered women in the valley to organize and mobilize for policy change. They teach communities about immigration, health, and economic policies and encourage them to fight back by protesting, petitioning lawmakers, and – when possible – by voting. Lugo-Martinez said Valley residents have become engaged and excited about human rights and are routinely sharing copies of the landmark 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights at community meetings.

“Women in the Valley will not rest until they can get care when and where they need it,” González-Rojas said. Nor should we remain complacent, for it would be wrong to assume that what is happening in Texas will stay there. “Texas is the epicenter of bad reproductive health policy, but it is also the incubator of those policies. What happens in Texas really matters,” said Anderson.

States across the nation are now following Texas’s lead in significantly restricting women’s access to reproductive health care. Nuestro Texas demonstrates the urgency of accelerating legal and policy trends across the country, as conservative legislators pursue an unrelenting anti-choice, anti-women’s-health agenda. 

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.

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Daily Digest - February 4: A Vision for the Opportunity Community

Feb 4, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Students Rethink How to Build Community (The Nation)

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Students Rethink How to Build Community (The Nation)

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Equal Justice Erik Lampmann explains how the Campus Network's new Rethinking Communities initiative, which is evaluating institutions like universities on their local impact, could build a more equitable economy for the future.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Associate Director of Networked Initiatives Alan Smith writes about the theory behind Rethinking Communities' focus on local economies.

Would the U.S. Postal Service Make a Better Banker for the Poor? (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Joshua Brustein takes up the question of postal banking as a method for the unbanked poor to avoid exploitative payday lenders and their ilk. He sees a future in which banks become worse at retail banking, which makes postal banking a solid possible alternative.

Banks Don’t Do Much Banking Anymore—and That’s a Serious Problem (Pacific Standard)

David Dayen writes about how "shadow banks," which include hedge funds, private equity firms, and the like, have taken a primary role in the lending industry as banks do less and less traditional banking. That's a big concern, because shadow banks are far less regulated and expand risk in the entire financial system.

State Could Be First In The Nation To Make Sure Workers Can Take A Vacation (ThinkProgress)

Bryce Covert reports that Washington lawmakers have proposed a bill that would mandate paid vacation for workers who put in at least 20 hours a week at employers with 25 or more employees. There's nothing like this anywhere else in the U.S.

Placed on Unpaid Leave, a Pregnant Employee Finds Hope in a New Law (NYT)

Rachel L. Swarns reports on one of the first cases invoking New York City's new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The law is meant to protect workers like Floralba Fernandez Espinal, who was placed on unpaid leave from her retail job when she brought a note from her obstetrician requesting accommodations.

New on Next New Deal

Obama and the GOP Present Two Very Different Paths to Opportunity for All

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch contrasts the messages presented by the president in the State of the Union with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’s official GOP response. Both focus on opportunity, but only one emphasizes the need for collective action.

Internet for the Public Interest Needs Protection

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network member Areeba Kamal calls on the Federal Communications Commission to redefine Internet Service Providers as common carriers in the wake of a court decision that struck down net neutrality regulations.

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Daily Digest - January 30: How Do We Make the Economy Work Again?

Jan 30, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Left Jab Radio (Sirius XM)

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Left Jab Radio (Sirius XM)

Jon Aberman and Mark Walsh speak with Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Director of the Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative Jeff Madrick about technological innovation that doesn't lead to productivity increases, the jobs emergency, and how to make the U.S. economy more competitive.

Republicans Just Won the Food Stamp War (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger writes that as the Senate plans to pass the current House version of the Farm Bill, which cuts $9 billion from SNAP, it's clear that the Democrats lost this fight. These cuts will mean that about a million families will receive $90 less per month.

Port Authority Demands Airlines Raise Worker Wages (NY Daily News)

Dan Friedman, Kenneth Lovett, and Rich Schapiro report that following a week-long campaign pushing for higher wages for airport workers, the executive director of the Port Authority has mandated a $9-per-hour wage for workers at LaGuardia and JFK airports.

Outsiders, Not Auto Plant, Battle U.A.W. in Tennessee (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse looks at the opposition to unionization efforts at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. National groups like the Center for Worker Freedom are pouring vast amounts of money into this fight, even though some think Volkswagen is open to the union.

Fed Stays the Course on Stimulus Reduction (WaPo)

Ylan Q. Mui writes that the Federal Reserve will continue to scale back its bond-buying program by about $10 billion in February. She notes that this is despite some concerns about weak job growth, as the December jobs report showed the nation added only 74,000 jobs.

New on Next New Deal

Roosevelt Reacts: What Worked and What Didn't in the 2014 State of the Union

Roosevelt Institute Fellows and Network members respond to the State of the Union: what they liked, what was missing, and how the president should proceed from here.

State of the Union 2014: Obama Offers Action, Not Apologies

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick praises the president for focusing on the changes that can be made rather than the year's mistakes. He's also glad to see Obama taking Congress to task for making progress impossible due to gridlock.

The State of the Union Then and Now: Raising the Minimum Wage is Still a Good Idea

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Hyde Park Resident Historian David Woolner notes that the president's call for a higher minimum wage mirrors President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1938 State of the Union, which used similar arguments to call for the creation of the minimum wage.

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Republican Alternative to Obamacare: Pay More, Get Less, Put the Insurance Companies Back in Charge

Jan 28, 2014Richard Kirsch

Now that Republicans have put out an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, Democrats should emphasize what a repeal would really mean for Americans' health.

Now that Republicans have put out an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, Democrats should emphasize what a repeal would really mean for Americans' health.

Boy, can Democrats have fun with the new Republican alternative to Obamacare. It puts the health insurance companies back in charge and raises costs for almost all Americans. In particular, it substantially raises costs and threatens to cut coverage for the half of all Americans who get health insurance at work. Seniors, the group that Republicans have scared witless about Obamacare, would lose the real benefits they receive under Obamacare. The proposal from three Republican senators is a golden opportunity for Democrats to contrast the specific benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with what a repeal and replace agenda would really mean for Americans’ lives and health.

When it comes to the politics of health care reform, my first adage is “the solution is the problem.” That is because once you get past vague generalities, like lowering cost and making coverage available, to proposing specifics, people will look to see how the proposals impact them personally. This is why health reform is such a political nightmare. Unlike most public policy issues, the impact is very understandable and real.

With the ACA as the law of the land, in analyzing the Republican proposal we must compare its impact to the law it would repeal. The pre-ACA model of health insurance is irrelevant. Here is how the Republican plan would impact people, compared with the ACA:

People who get health insurance at workbottom line: pay more for worse coverage.

Almost half of all Americans (48 percent), or 148 million people, obtain health insurance at work. The Republican plan would tax 35 percent of the average cost of health insurance benefits at work. This is a big tax increase on working people and is extraordinarily unpopular, as the Obama campaign used to devastating impact on John McCain. And while people would pay more, they would get less coverage, as the GOP plan would allow insurance companies to once again limit the amount of benefits they will pay out in one year and return to the day when employers could offer bare-bones plans.

While taxing health benefits would apply to all employer-provided coverage, the Republicans would give the 30 percent of people who work for businesses who employ fewer than 100 workers a tax credit. That might balance out the increased taxes for some people. However, doing so would create a huge set of economic distortions, as employers might seek to keep firm size under the 100-employee threshold.

Individuals who buy coverage on their own or who are uninsured – bottom line: insurance companies could again deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and offer bare-bones coverage, while the cost of decent coverage would go up for most people.

This is the group that the ACA is most aimed at helping, including the 5 percent of Americans who buy private health insurance and the 15 percent who are uninsured, totaling 64 million people. The ACA offers income-based subsidies to these people when they earn between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) and enrolls people under 133 percent of FPL in Medicaid, when states agree.

The Republican plan is toughest, in comparison with the ACA, on the lowest income people and on the higher-income middle-class, compared with Obamacare. But many families in between will do worse too.

The Republican plan would wipe out the expansion of Medicaid to people earning less than 133 percent of FPL, a provision the Supreme Court has made optional. It would cut back on Medicaid, ending the federal government’s offer to pay 90 percent of the cost of expanded coverage and replacing that with the federal government paying what it has paid historically, which is between half and three-quarters of the cost of Medicaid, with poorer states getting a bigger share. Crucially, the funding would only be for pregnant women, children and parents with dependent children who earn under the poverty level, as opposed to the ACAs funding of all adults up to 133% of FPL. That means many fewer people covered and states getting less Medicaid money. Republican governors may not complain, but you can bet hospitals will. Adults without dependent children would not be covered by federal Medicaid, which means millions will stay uninsured or lose coverage they now have, unless states pay for coverage without federal support.

For individuals not covered by Medicaid or employees of firms with fewer than 100 workers, the Republican plan would replace the ACA’s sliding-scale subsidies, which now go to 400 percent of FPL, with a subsidy that is the same for everyone of the same age who is under 200 percent of FPL and lowersubsidies for people from 200 percent to 300 percent. In addition, the subsidies would be higher for older people than younger. The Republican plan also would take away the requirements that insurance plans offer decent benefits and free preventive care and charge women the same prices as men for coverage, along with every other consumer protection, with the exception of keeping in place no lifetime caps for covered benefits.

Comparing the value of the Republican plan subsidies vs. the ACA subsidies for the people who would still qualify depends on income, age, and family size. Generally, it appears that the Republican subsidies are much less than the ACA for people under 150 percent of the FPL ($35,000 for a family of four) and much less than the ACA for younger people, but more for older people. However, insurance rates for younger people would go down some at the expense of older people, who insurance companies could charge a lot more than under ACA. And families with incomes above $70,000 for a family of four would lose subsidies entirely.

Seniors and the disabled on Medicare – bottom line: seniors would pay more for prescription drugs and preventive care.

By repealing the ACA, the Republican plan would take away its two concrete benefits for seniors. One is that preventive care services are now free under Medicare (as they are under all insurance). The other is that the ACA is lowering drug prices for seniors by slowly closing the “donut hole,” under which seniors must pay the full cost of prescription drugs even though they are paying premiums for drug coverage. In other words, the Republican plan is simply bad news for seniors, the constituency that they have scared the most about Obamacare groundlessly.

 

It is not surprising that Republicans have been reluctant to come up with a replacement for Obamacare. It’s much easier to throw darts – or bombs – at the ACA than to come up with a replacement that meets Republican ideological tenants of less regulation and less government. Any plan that meets the ideological test will be much worse for people in ways they can understand. It is our job to explain it to the public clearly: pay more, get less, put the insurance companies back in charge. This debate is not simply the political game Republicans want to make it. It is about our health and our lives. 

Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a Senior Adviser to USAction, and the author of Fighting for Our Health. He was National Campaign Manager of Health Care for America Now during the legislative battle to pass reform.

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Daily Digest - January 17: Less Aid Won't Lead to Less Inequality

Jan 17, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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People Worried About Income Inequality (The Kudlow Report)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal explains that while it's true that income inequality isn't quite as bad if you account for programs that provide low-wage income support, the GOP's plans to reduce that support and lower taxes will make the problem worse.

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People Worried About Income Inequality (The Kudlow Report)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal explains that while it's true that income inequality isn't quite as bad if you account for programs that provide low-wage income support, the GOP's plans to reduce that support and lower taxes will make the problem worse.

Advocates for Workers Raise the Ire of Business (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse writes about how businesses are reacting to the rise of worker centers as an alternative model for labor organizing. He quotes Greg Asbed from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who decries businesses' attacks on these centers as "McCarthy-era tactics."

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch interviewed Greg Asbed and two of his fellow organizers prior to the 2013 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards, where the Roosevelt Institute awarded the CIW the Freedom from Want Medal.

How Walmart Organizers Turned the Internet Into a Shop Floor (In These Times)

Sarah Jaffe looks at the innovative ways that OUR Walmart has used social media to organize discussions, build leaders, and support protests. She writes that these online spaces are valuable ways for organizers to reach workers and activists alike.

Mayor, Speaker Reach Deal on Paid Sick Leave (Capital New York)

Sally Goldenberg reports that New York City's top elected officials have reached an agreement to expand the city's paid sick leave law, which currently only applies to companies with at least 20 workers. Lowering that threshold will give more workers access to paid sick leave.

Obama Weighing Executive Action on Minimum Wage? (WaPo)

Greg Sargent writes that according to Senator Bernie Sanders, the White House is seriously considering raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors. Unlike raising the federal minimum wage, this could be accomplished with an executive order.

All the Jobs Growth Last Month Went to Women. (And That's Not Necessarily Good News for Them.) (TNR)

Emma Roller considers some of the problems with current job growth, which is primarily low-wage, going so heavily to women. She points to this "sinking floor" rather than the glass ceiling as the issue that is affecting most women in the workplace.

New on Next New Deal

Is Bridgegate Politics as Usual, or Beyond the Pale?

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Bo Cutter considers the Christie administration's actions in light of his years of experience in government. He says that because the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge affected normal people, this case is particularly terrible.

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

Jan 16, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

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.

New on Next New Deal

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 - January 15: Nobel Winners Unite to Push for Higher Wages

Jan 15, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Seven Nobel Laureates Endorse Higher U.S. Minimum Wage (Bloomberg)

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Seven Nobel Laureates Endorse Higher U.S. Minimum Wage (Bloomberg)

Lorraine Woellert reports that the laureates are part of a group of 75 economists pushing for a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour by 2016, and for indexing the minimum wage to inflation. Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz is among the signatories of this letter.

Net Neutrality is Dead. Bow to Comcast and Verizon, Your Overlords (LA Times)

Michael Hiltzik explains yesterday's federal court decision, which struck down the FCC's net neutrality rules. He quotes Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford, who says big telecommunications companies aren't really competing, which makes regulation even more necessary.

Blue-Collar Wage-Grade Federal Workers Waiting on Pay Raise (WaPo)

Emily Wax-Thibodeaux writes about the federal employees who haven't gotten a 1 percent raise yet, despite President Obama's executive order ending a three-year pay freeze. Congress could finally enact that raise in the omnibus spending bill that's under consideration now.

Extension of Unemployment Benefits Dead in Senate For Now (CBS News)

Rebecca Kaplan explains how a fight over the rights of the minority party in the Senate subsumed the push to renew extended unemployment benefits. Senate Democrats are criticizing their Republican colleagues for putting politics ahead of the needs of the long-term unemployed.

Whose Side Are Progressives on: The Poor or the Upper Middle Class? (PolicyShop)

David Callahan points out that the coalition that elected President Obama twice and just elected Mayor de Blasio in New York City looks like a barbell: plenty of poor voters, and plenty of upper-middle class voters. But thus far, political priorities have greatly favored the wealthier part of this coalition.

Poverty Is Literally Making People Sick Because They Can't Afford Food (The Atlantic Cities)

Matthew O'Brien looks at a new study that determined that low-income patients who are living paycheck-to-paycheck experience an increase in health problems related to lack of food at the end of each month. The easiest solutions ensure that people have more money to buy food.

Democrats Concede to Curb Funds for Wall Street Regulators in Spending Bill (The Guardian)

Dan Roberts explains some of the bargains made for the sake of Congress's omnibus appropriations bill, expected to pass this week. Financial reform advocates are angered by the cuts to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission budgets.

Regulators Ease Volcker Rule Provision on Smaller Banks (NYT)

Matthew Goldstein reports that regulators gave in to pressures from the banking industry and revised the Volcker Rule, supposedly to reduce its effects on smaller community banks. However, the revised rule will allow big banks to keep certain investments that could be seen as proprietary trading.

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