Daily Digest - January 14: Big Money Isn't Beaten Yet

Jan 14, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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How Big Money Keeps Populism at Bay (AlterNet)

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How Big Money Keeps Populism at Bay (AlterNet)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Thomas Ferguson writes with Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen about how both parties' reliance on large donations from the wealthy to keep campaigns afloat limits the influence of populist movements on elections.

  • Roosevelt Take: Ferguson pulls from his working paper with Jorgensen and Chen to discuss political spending in the 2012 campaign.

'Mom did it, we can do it': Two-Generation Programs Help Lift Families Out of Poverty (NBC News)

Former Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz writes about a highly successful anti-poverty program in Amarillo, TX. The program works with single mothers and their children simultaneously to promote academic achievement.

How the Rise of Women in Labor Could Save the Movement (The Nation)

Bryce Covert draws on research from Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren as she argues that encouraging the rise of female leadership in both traditional and alt-labor groups will help to reinvigorate the labor movement and lead it to success.

Two Roads Forward for Labor: The AFL-CIO’s New Agenda (Dissent)

Nelson Lichtenstein considers two paths for a revival of the labor movement, one based in singular events of mass upheaval, and the other in a slow drift to the left in American politics. These options aren't mutually exclusive, so he says labor should prepare for both.

Blaming Poverty on Single Parents Is Win-Win for Republicans, Evidence Be Damned (The Wire)

Philip Bump says that when Senator Marco Rubio tries to link marriage rates and poverty, progressives should remember that correlation is not causation. Sadly, the GOP would rather talk about marriage as a solution than fund real anti-poverty programs.

It Is Expensive to Be Poor (The Atlantic)

Barbara Ehrenreich discusses poverty as a shortage of money, as opposed to the moral failure that many politicians spin it to be. She argues that Americans need to stop blaming poverty on the poor and start fixing the economic and social institutions that perpetuate it.

Banks Seek to Limit Volcker With Challenge to Meaning of ‘Own’ (Bloomberg)

Yalman Onaran reports that bankers have filed a lawsuit arguing that the Volcker Rule's definition of ownership with regard to hedge funds and private-equity funds is too broad. The rule was written that way to keep banks from skirting the ban on proprietary trading.

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Daily Digest - January 13: Giving Welfare a Fair Shake

Jan 13, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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No, We Don’t Spend $1 Trillion on Welfare Each Year (WaPo)

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No, We Don’t Spend $1 Trillion on Welfare Each Year (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal counters this common conservative talking point, along with the claim that welfare spending doesn't reduce poverty. Mike takes care to define which programs are really "welfare," and it turns out those programs are quite successful.

Internet In America: An On Again, Off Again Relationship (NPR)

Arun Roth speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford about the problems with high-speed internet access in the United States. She says that the U.S. is falling behind, and calls for a public infrastructure project to bring fiber optic access to all.

The 2013 Employment Story: Yet Another Year of McJob Growth (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissmann writes that 2013 follows the trend set in 2011 and 2012 with 182,000 new jobs per month in the U.S., but those numbers say nothing about the kind of jobs being created, and he argues we're becoming accustomed to growth in low-wage fields.

Number of Americans Looking for Work at Lowest Level Since 1970s (The Guardian)

Dominic Rushe looks at the December jobs report from the Department of Labor and points out that the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent primarily because of people giving up their search for work and dropping out of the labor force.

Doctors Slam Proposed Food Stamp Cuts: ‘The Dumbest Thing You Can Do Is Cut Nutrition’ (ThinkProgress)

Sy Mukherjee reports that the medical community is calling out lawmakers for their failure to see the connection between hunger and health. Saving money on SNAP won't matter if health care costs go up, and research shows those costs would disproportionately hit Medicaid.

New on Next New Deal

Lesson from December's Jobs Report: Turn On the Fiscal Jets

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative Director Jeff Madrick argues that the Federal Reserve must maintain monetary stimulus to preserve the recovery, but what's really needed is increased government spending.

In 2013, the Fed Showed Why Fiscal Policy is Still Important

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal argues that expanded monetary policy wasn't enough to offset fiscal austerity in 2013, even according to the benchmarks set by those who predicted the opposite, and that fiscal policy is still needed to keep the economy going.

In Contraceptive Mandate Challenges, Women’s Health and Much More is on the Line

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn writes that the challenges to the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act lay the groundwork for private employers to deny their employees access to birth control, and potentially to other health services.

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Daily Digest - January 10: Unemployment Can't Be Solved With a Bus Ticket

Jan 10, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Marco Rubio to Jobless: Get Out Of Town (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal about Marco Rubio's plan to give unemployed people subsidies to move to low-unemployment areas. Mike says that this plan won't solve the problem of long-term unemployment.

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Marco Rubio to Jobless: Get Out Of Town (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal about Marco Rubio's plan to give unemployed people subsidies to move to low-unemployment areas. Mike says that this plan won't solve the problem of long-term unemployment.

The War Over Poverty (NYT)

Paul Krugman argues that the war on poverty should be seen as a template for success for the progressive movement. The narrative has shifted such that poverty is no longer seen as an example of moral deficiency, which makes anti-poverty programs more politically viable.

Why The Republican’s Old Divide-and-Conquer Strategy — Setting Working Class Against the Poor — Is Backfiring (Robert Reich)

Robert Reich argues that the Republicans, who continue to oppose policies that help the poor, such as food stamps and minimum wage increases, are running into problems because of the growth of the working poor, who need those programs to make ends meet.

Showdown vote ahead on Senate Democrats’ bill to extend jobless benefits (WaPo)

Paul Kane reports on the coming fight to pass Harry Reid's proposal for emergency unemployment insurance, which extends the program through November but cuts benefits to 31 weeks. Reid has shut down amendments to the bill, and an all-or-nothing vote will likely be held on Monday.

Universal Preschool Push Will Test Cuomo’s Commitment to New York Women (The Nation)

Bryce Covert uses the push for universal pre-K in New York to explain why it's impossible to split social and economic agendas. Pre-K isn't just an education issue; it's also about parents' ability to work, which makes this an economic issue that tax cuts can't solve.

Pinprick: Six Reasons Why Civil Fines Don't Deter Corporate Wrongdoers (PolicyShop)

David Callahan lists reasons that even massive fines like those JPMorgan Chase has been hit with don't eliminate illegal behaviors. The most important reason is that these fines don't cause any real damage to the individuals making the decisions for the corporation.

New on Next New Deal

Obama's 'Promise Zones' Have Potential if They Include Anchor Institutions

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network National Field Strategist Joelle Gamble writes that the administration would do well to focus on anchor institutions, which the Roosevelt Institute's new Rethinking Communities initiative is doing, as it works to encourage local economic growth.

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Daily Digest - January 9: Celebrating the War on Poverty's Successes

Jan 8, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Materially Richer Today Than 50 Years Ago (The Kudlow Report)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal discusses the War on Poverty on CNBC, where he focuses on some of its successes. Mike says that War on Poverty programs have drastically reduced poverty among children and the elderly, which should be celebrated.

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Materially Richer Today Than 50 Years Ago (The Kudlow Report)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal discusses the War on Poverty on CNBC, where he focuses on some of its successes. Mike says that War on Poverty programs have drastically reduced poverty among children and the elderly, which should be celebrated.

A Dismal New Year for the Global Economy (The Guardian)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Joseph Stiglitz says that despite a few signs of economic improvement around the world, we should still be concerned about the ways that market economies across the globe are failing to create opportunity for most citizens.

Obama to Name 5 'Promise Zones' for Assistance (USA Today)

David Jackson reports on the creation of "Promise Zones," troubled neighborhoods that will receive targeted assistance to improve education, housing, and public safety. The plan involves working with government and businesses to attack poverty on a local level.

Connecticut Sick-Leave Law Has Little Impact on Employers: Study (WSJ)

Joseph de Avila looks at a study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research examining the effects of the CT law, which was the first paid-sick leave measure in the U.S. Preliminary findings show that only 10% of employers had payroll costs increase by 3% or more.

Rauner Wants to Roll Back Minimum Wage (NBC Chicago)

Mark W. Anderson writes that Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for Governor in Illinois, thinks that the state's $9.25 per hour minimum wage isn't "competitive." While many politicians are discussing raising minimum wages, he wants to return Illinois's to $7.25.

Investors Are Chastened. That’s A Good Thing. (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisinger says that the lack of enthusiasm for the stock market's record highs are a sign that the public has learned not to trust the stock market as a measure of the economy's success. Instead, it's a reminder that the recovery hasn't reached most Americans.

Warren, Coburn Push for Increased Transparency on Settlements (The Nation)

George Zornick reports on a new bill from Senators Warren and Coburn that would require federal agencies to provide full disclosures of how much corporations are actually paying in fines. Corporations write off large amounts in their taxes, and the Senators think the public should know how much.

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Daily Digest - January 8: The Long War on Poverty Continues

Jan 7, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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The War on Poverty Turns 50: Three Lessons for Liberals Today (TNR)

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The War on Poverty Turns 50: Three Lessons for Liberals Today (TNR)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal looks at new research from the Russell Sage Foundation on the successes of the War on Poverty, and considers how those accomplishments should guide liberals as poverty takes center stage in the lead-up to the midterm elections.

Millennial Perspective: How to Strengthen Social Security (National Priorities Project)

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline member Tarsi Dunlop argues that Millennials should advocate for reforms that will ensure the future of Social Security. Most Millennials agree with her, with two-thirds supporting changes like raising the earnings cap on Social Security taxes.

Vote in Senate Starts Talks on Extending Unemployment Benefits (NYT)

Jonathan Weisman reports on the negotiations over extending emergency unemployment benefits, which expired at the end of December. Yesterday's vote advanced that cause in the Senate, but it's still entirely unclear if anything will come of it in the House.

Forever Temp? (In These Times)

Sarah Jaffe reports that even in industries that used to be known for good jobs, like auto manufacturing, temps are becoming the new norm. Temp jobs in factories pay less and lack benefits, and when workers come from multiple agencies, they're harder to organize.

A Blueprint for Labor’s Engagement With Southern Communities (The Blog of the Century)

Douglas Williams suggests that the Tompkins County Worker Center in upstate New York could provide a model for communities where labor has struggled. The key is the TCWC's strong engagement with the entire community, not just organized labor.

Will Elizabeth Warren Oppose Obama's Pick for Banking Watchdog? (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger writes that Sharon Bowen, the President's newest nominee for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, might be too close to Wall Street for some senators' tastes, and Democrats like Warren could derail the nomination.

The Quest to Improve America’s Financial Literacy Is Both a Failure and a Sham (Pacific Standard)

Helaine Olen says that the call for expanding financial literacy education in the U.S. carries little meaning, because the real problem is low wages. The financial literacy movement falsely implies that economic insecurity is always caused by bad choices instead of structural problems.

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Daily Digest - December 18: Economic Liberalism is Not Just a Charity Project

Dec 18, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Is the Safety Net Just Masking Tape? (NYT)

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Is the Safety Net Just Masking Tape? (NYT)

Thomas Edsall uses Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal's blog post on "pity-charity liberal capitalism" to discuss the loss of economic liberalism in policy. They agree that without structural economic reform, the safety net is merely holding things together, not progressing the liberal project.

North Carolina Shows How to Crush the Unemployed (Bloomberg)

Evan Soltas suggests North Carolina's policies demonstrate what could happen across the U.S when the federal extension of unemployment insurance expires on January 1. The results aren't pretty; the state's labor force has shrunk, and food pantries are struggling to meet increasing needs.

Unemployment Benefits Are Ending for 1.3 Million Americans. What's That All About? (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger explains why federal emergency unemployment benefits are being cut off and what's likely to happen to the people who have been relying on those funds. In 2012, unemployment insurance kept 1.7 million people out of poverty. It's not difficult to imagine what 2014 could look like.

Washington, DC city council raises minimum wage to $11.50/hr in 2016 (Reuters)

Ian Simpson reports on the unanimous city council vote, which makes the mayor's opposition irrelevant. The city council coordinated with two neighboring counties in Maryland, and the combined region of 2.5 million residents will have a higher minimum wage than any state.

Supersize My Wage (NYT)

Annie Lowrey looks at a study on the effects of New Jersey's 1992 minimum wage increase on fast food restaurants on the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border. It showed no increase in unemployment, and advocates continue to use it to combat scaremongering about the federal minimum wage.

The Human Price of Innovation at Amazon (Policyshop)

David Callahan argues that since the most innovative big companies are often totally miserable to work for, free enterprise can't be the source of human happiness. Amazon and Wal-Mart have pioneered major changes in their industries, but they are also innovators in terrible labor practices.

New on Next New Deal

A Silicon Valley CEO's Words Can't Hurt the Poor, But Government Can Help Them

Nell Abernathy, Program Manager for the Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative, takes Greg Gopman's tirade about the homeless in San Francisco as a starting point to argue for the importance of government in fighting for social welfare.

Guest Post: Max Sawicky on the Liberal Case Against a Universal Basic Income

Max Sawicky argues that a Universal Base Income is actually about the dream of wiping the slate clean of our past anti-poverty programs. Instead of attempting something so fantastical, he says we need to spend more time considering the programs that are actually possible.

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Guest Post: Max Sawicky on the Liberal Case Against a Universal Basic Income

Dec 17, 2013Mike Konczal

Earlier this month, I was on a Wonkblog live event panel discussing a Universal Basic Income (some video clips here), a topic I wrote about at Wonkblog earlier in the year. There was two people for and two people against, one from the left and one from the right. The person who represented the liberal side who was against a Universal Basic Income was Max Sawicky, formerly of EPI and the blog Maxspeak. He had prepared remarks for his introduction. I asked him if I could post them here and he agreed, and here it is:

With the coming referendum in Switzerland has come a flurry of commentary about a “Universal Basic Income” (UBI). There are some strange bedfellows from left and right are saying nice things about it. I suggest that it can be a distraction from more important things.

If you don’t have time to read this, just consider that a payment of $10,000 to every U.S. adult, a pretty basic basic income, would cost $2.5 trillion. Game over.

That aside, first off we need to distinguish between the objective of ensuring a minimum standard of consumption for all persons and the specifics of a UBI. You can support the first without the baggage of the second. More plausible ways to pursue the objective include: promote full employment, raise the minimum wage, rationalize and expand our system of refundable tax credits in the Federal individual income tax, federalize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (reversing the welfare reform of 1996), establish the Federal government as an employer of last resort, support trade unions, and establish pay for caregivers. All of these in some combination are worth more of our time than a UBI. They are all more in keeping with our current system and our political culture.

What’s wrong with the UBI? It is not the utopianism. The measures I note, if you scale them up, are pretty ambitious. Nor do I see incentive problems with a UBI or similar measures. I do not believe that the availability of a UBI would spawn an army of slackers and moochers.

Let's start with the rationale for the UBI, which I would summarize as eliminating poverty with a low overhead cost. That still leaves a lot to the imagination. UBI proposals tend not to be fully baked. Presumably you reduce overhead by eliminating existing programs, but which ones? Are you willing to ding people at 105% of the poverty line to help others below it? Note you would still need eligibility determination and verification with a universal program. And how universal would it be? Immigrants? The aged? Children? Prisoners? Ex-convicts?

Like good fiction, the way to read the UBI is not as a real proposal, but as a message about something else: our existing system. But the implicit critique of the existing system underlying UBI advocacy is not well-founded.

Overhead cost is typically exaggerated in conservative discussions. Conservatives present comparisons of spending under a long list of Federal programs, many of which have broader or entirely different objectives than reducing poverty. The costs of programs that try to do things requiring public employees are not the same as ‘overhead,’ nor are these employees necessarily a bureaucracy. Even the programs explicitly aimed at reducing poverty are designed to cover more than just those under the poverty line. Moreover, the overhead costs of the main programs noted below are low, for the most part.

We also see exaggerations of the number of programs that are dedicated to reducing poverty. The fact is that most anti-poverty spending is concentrated in relatively few places: Medicaid, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, unemployment compensation, and housing subsidies. Coverage in most of these programs goes well above the official poverty line.

In the current system, there is plenty to criticize. Eligibility could be simplified and broadened. Assistance could be increased. The main gap in coverage where a UBI would have the most impact is on able-bodied adults without children, who currently get the least from the current system as far as cash transfers are concerned. I’ve already mentioned easier ways to remedy that deficiency.

So why are we talking about the UBI? Dissatisfaction with the current system feeds a dream of wiping the slate clean, but motivations for a clean slate vary drastically.

Some on the right would like to replace existing programs because they disapprove of what those programs do, not because they fail to erase poverty. What the programs do is masked with the epithet of “bureaucracy.” Or they imagine a scenario where Federal spending decreases, and the remaining UBI programs can then be further whittled down over time. In effect, conservative supporters of the UBI concede their major, historic critique of anti-poverty benefits – the moocher issue. One naturally wonders how deeply felt this conversion really is.

Some on the left would like more ample, broader, simpler provision of benefits. This critique actually goes back to the 60s, when the principal anti-poverty program – Aid to Families with Dependent Children – was viewed as intrusive and demeaning.

If you like the transfer of cold cash, your chief target ought to be Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the fruits of the Clinton/Gingrich welfare reform of 1996. The Feds provide a grant to state governments, who busy themselves with helping people to help themselves. In the actual event, states helped a lot of people off the welfare rolls and into poverty. The national poverty rate, notwithstanding this reform, steadily went up after 2000. So if you want to strike a blow for reduced overhead, simplicity, and adequacy – if you’re serious – go ahead and make my day: Federalize TANF and establish it as an individual, adequate cash payment to which every resident has a legal right. To constrain its cost, limit eligibility to families with dependent children and phase it out as other income grows.

We do have a mix of programs – what’s been called a “mish-mosh” -- aimed at poverty reduction, among other objectives. Why this complexity?

1.  No surprise, poor people don’t have much political power. They are obliged to seek alliances with provider interests – most famously with agriculture behind the food stamp program (an alliance that may be ending).

2.  The disorganization of Congress and associated interest groups encourages fragmentation. Every member wants something specific to attach his or her name to. (In recent decades, instead of spending programs, we have tax breaks named after Members of Congress).

3.  Federalism, hard-wired into our constitution.

4.  Public opinion, a Tower of Babel.

In light of these constraints, why dwell on a proposal founded on the mirage of wiping the slate clean to start from scratch that presumes a completely fantastical political environment? The answer is, to avoid devices that have been used successfully in the past, that exist at some level and actually work, that stand better than a ghost of a chance at being enacted, and importantly, surviving.

People need a basic income, so they need us to talk about the best ways to get it.

Max Sawicky is employed with the Federal government. His views here do not represent those of his employer.

Follow or contact the Rortybomb blog:

  

 

Earlier this month, I was on a Wonkblog live event panel discussing a Universal Basic Income (some video clips here), a topic I wrote about at Wonkblog earlier in the year. There was two people for and two people against, one from the left and one from the right. The person who represented the liberal side who was against a Universal Basic Income was Max Sawicky, formerly of EPI and the blog Maxspeak. He had prepared remarks for his introduction. I asked him if I could post them here and he agreed, and here it is:

With the coming referendum in Switzerland has come a flurry of commentary about a “Universal Basic Income” (UBI). There are some strange bedfellows from left and right are saying nice things about it. I suggest that it can be a distraction from more important things.

If you don’t have time to read this, just consider that a payment of $10,000 to every U.S. adult, a pretty basic basic income, would cost $2.5 trillion. Game over.

That aside, first off we need to distinguish between the objective of ensuring a minimum standard of consumption for all persons and the specifics of a UBI. You can support the first without the baggage of the second. More plausible ways to pursue the objective include: promote full employment, raise the minimum wage, rationalize and expand our system of refundable tax credits in the Federal individual income tax, federalize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (reversing the welfare reform of 1996), establish the Federal government as an employer of last resort, support trade unions, and establish pay for caregivers. All of these in some combination are worth more of our time than a UBI. They are all more in keeping with our current system and our political culture.

What’s wrong with the UBI? It is not the utopianism. The measures I note, if you scale them up, are pretty ambitious. Nor do I see incentive problems with a UBI or similar measures. I do not believe that the availability of a UBI would spawn an army of slackers and moochers.

Let's start with the rationale for the UBI, which I would summarize as eliminating poverty with a low overhead cost. That still leaves a lot to the imagination. UBI proposals tend not to be fully baked. Presumably you reduce overhead by eliminating existing programs, but which ones? Are you willing to ding people at 105% of the poverty line to help others below it? Note you would still need eligibility determination and verification with a universal program. And how universal would it be? Immigrants? The aged? Children? Prisoners? Ex-convicts?

Like good fiction, the way to read the UBI is not as a real proposal, but as a message about something else: our existing system. But the implicit critique of the existing system underlying UBI advocacy is not well-founded.

Overhead cost is typically exaggerated in conservative discussions. Conservatives present comparisons of spending under a long list of Federal programs, many of which have broader or entirely different objectives than reducing poverty. The costs of programs that try to do things requiring public employees are not the same as ‘overhead,’ nor are these employees necessarily a bureaucracy. Even the programs explicitly aimed at reducing poverty are designed to cover more than just those under the poverty line. Moreover, the overhead costs of the main programs noted below are low, for the most part.

We also see exaggerations of the number of programs that are dedicated to reducing poverty. The fact is that most anti-poverty spending is concentrated in relatively few places: Medicaid, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, unemployment compensation, and housing subsidies. Coverage in most of these programs goes well above the official poverty line.

In the current system, there is plenty to criticize. Eligibility could be simplified and broadened. Assistance could be increased. The main gap in coverage where a UBI would have the most impact is on able-bodied adults without children, who currently get the least from the current system as far as cash transfers are concerned. I’ve already mentioned easier ways to remedy that deficiency.

So why are we talking about the UBI? Dissatisfaction with the current system feeds a dream of wiping the slate clean, but motivations for a clean slate vary drastically.

Some on the right would like to replace existing programs because they disapprove of what those programs do, not because they fail to erase poverty. What the programs do is masked with the epithet of “bureaucracy.” Or they imagine a scenario where Federal spending decreases, and the remaining UBI programs can then be further whittled down over time. In effect, conservative supporters of the UBI concede their major, historic critique of anti-poverty benefits – the moocher issue. One naturally wonders how deeply felt this conversion really is.

Some on the left would like more ample, broader, simpler provision of benefits. This critique actually goes back to the 60s, when the principal anti-poverty program – Aid to Families with Dependent Children – was viewed as intrusive and demeaning.

If you like the transfer of cold cash, your chief target ought to be Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the fruits of the Clinton/Gingrich welfare reform of 1996. The Feds provide a grant to state governments, who busy themselves with helping people to help themselves. In the actual event, states helped a lot of people off the welfare rolls and into poverty. The national poverty rate, notwithstanding this reform, steadily went up after 2000. So if you want to strike a blow for reduced overhead, simplicity, and adequacy – if you’re serious – go ahead and make my day: Federalize TANF and establish it as an individual, adequate cash payment to which every resident has a legal right. To constrain its cost, limit eligibility to families with dependent children and phase it out as other income grows.

We do have a mix of programs – what’s been called a “mish-mosh” -- aimed at poverty reduction, among other objectives. Why this complexity?

1.  No surprise, poor people don’t have much political power. They are obliged to seek alliances with provider interests – most famously with agriculture behind the food stamp program (an alliance that may be ending).

2.  The disorganization of Congress and associated interest groups encourages fragmentation. Every member wants something specific to attach his or her name to. (In recent decades, instead of spending programs, we have tax breaks named after Members of Congress).

3.  Federalism, hard-wired into our constitution.

4.  Public opinion, a Tower of Babel.

In light of these constraints, why dwell on a proposal founded on the mirage of wiping the slate clean to start from scratch that presumes a completely fantastical political environment? The answer is, to avoid devices that have been used successfully in the past, that exist at some level and actually work, that stand better than a ghost of a chance at being enacted, and importantly, surviving.

People need a basic income, so they need us to talk about the best ways to get it.

Max Sawicky is employed with the Federal government. His views here do not represent those of his employer.

Follow or contact the Rortybomb blog:

  

 

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Daily Digest - December 10: A Reminder That Policy Affects Human Lives

Dec 10, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Invisible Child (NYT)

Andrea Elliot reports in great depth on the life of a homeless girl in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. By placing this story in context with Mayor Bloomberg's housing and homelessness policies, she makes the effects of bad policy on human lives crystal clear.

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Invisible Child (NYT)

Andrea Elliot reports in great depth on the life of a homeless girl in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. By placing this story in context with Mayor Bloomberg's housing and homelessness policies, she makes the effects of bad policy on human lives crystal clear.

Study: U.S. Poverty Rate Decreased Over Past Half-Century Thanks to Safety-Net Programs (WaPo)

Zachary Goldfarb reports on a new study from Columbia University, which contradicts the official poverty rate significantly. The researchers traced back poverty using newer standards, and found that the safety net is particularly effective at protecting kids from poverty.

How Inequality Became as American as Apple Pie (The Nation)

Jessica Weisberg compares the concepts of inequality and mobility, ways to discuss poverty that appeal to opposite ends of the political spectrum. The right may prefer to talk about mobility, but social mobility in the U.S. is pretty terrible, which maintains inequality.

Let's Get This Straight: AIG Execs Got Bailout Bonuses, but Pensioners Get Cuts (The Guardian)

Dean Baker asks why the White House had to maintain AIG's contractual obligations during the bailout, even when it meant paying bonuses in March 2009, but Chicago can ignore its contracts to pensioners today.

Robbing Illinois's Public Employees (TAP)

David Dayen explains how pension theft has become a new norm. Public employees can no longer count on ever seeing the pension funds they negotiate for today, and the current retirees are in an even worse place, because many don't receive Social Security.

Tea Party Representative Supports Wasteful Government Program, Because YOHO (NY Mag)

Jonathan Chait says there's one clear tie among the government programs supported by Republican obstructionists: private profits. When sugar subsidies are "accepted norms," as Rep. Yoho (R-FL) said, it must be better to cut SNAP or Medicaid.

More Than Three-Quarters of Workers Missing from the Labor Force Are Under Age 55 (Working Economics)

Heidi Shierholz looks at a breakdown of "missing workers" (those who are neither employed nor looking for work) by age. Only a quarter of the missing workers could be early retirees, and the other 4.3 million will probably reenter the job market when it picks up.

New on Next New Deal

Think Global, Act Hyper-Local: Campus Network Rates Colleges on Economic and Social Impact in Their Communities

Roosevelt Institute Associate Director of Networked Initiatives Alan Smith explains a new Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network initiative, in which students will help their schools find ways to improve how they affect local communities.

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Daily Digest - December 6: The Sky Isn't Falling From Minimum Wage Hikes

Dec 6, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The Roosevelt Institute joins in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela yesterday. Mandela received the 2002 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal to honor his incredible legacy of civil rights work. You can read the citation written in his honor and his acceptance speech here.

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

The Roosevelt Institute joins in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela yesterday. Mandela received the 2002 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal to honor his incredible legacy of civil rights work. You can read the citation written in his honor and his acceptance speech here.

Minimum Wage, Major Fight (Jansing & Co.)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren argues that raising the minimum wage won't cause the sky to collapse, despite messaging from McDonald's and the rest of the fast-food industry. Higher wages would instead reinforce and grow the middle class.

Raising Interest Rates Now Would Be a Tragic Error (U.S. News & World Report)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick writes that our economy is still too fragile for the Fed to start raising interest rates. That would cause a cascade of other problems, including harming our already slack labor market.

Long-Term Unemployment is Still at its Highest Levels Since World War II (WaPo)

Brad Plumer points out that in the past, emergency unemployment benefits didn't end until the long-term unemployment rate was under half the current rate of 2.6 percent. But House Republicans don't seem to care that cutting benefits won't magically give people work.

Massachusetts Voters Will Weigh In On Guaranteeing Paid Sick Days (ThinkProgress)

Bryce Covert reports that activists turned in nearly four times as many signatures as needed to get paid sick leave on the ballot for 2014 in Massachusetts. They also delivered a petition for raising the minimum wage, but the state's legislature might beat them to it.

While Obama Talks Poverty, Stabenow Agrees to $8 Billion More in SNAP Cuts (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann reports that while the President was giving his speech on economic inequality, the Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee was agreeing to a deal on SNAP cuts. Never before has a Democratic-controlled Senate even proposed cuts to SNAP.

New on Next New Deal

Obama Updates His Story About America

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch examines President Obama's speech on economic inequality. He says the president is presenting inequality as a roadblock to the American Dream, and progressives should run with this story to inspire action.

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Daily Digest - December 4: Youth Unemployment Is Leading to Tragedy

Dec 4, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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"Tragedy as a generation" for U.S. Youth (Marketplace)

David Brancaccio speaks to Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick about the problems young people are facing in today's economy. He says that without professional lobbyists, other groups' needs are being heard over young people's.

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"Tragedy as a generation" for U.S. Youth (Marketplace)

David Brancaccio speaks to Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick about the problems young people are facing in today's economy. He says that without professional lobbyists, other groups' needs are being heard over young people's.

CFPB To Supervise Largest Student Loan Servicers (HuffPo)

Shahien Nasiripour reports that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has finalized a rule giving it oversight over the companies that collect payments on federal student loans. This should hopefully ensure more borrower-friendly practices.

Detroit Is Bankrupt: What Now? (Pacific Standard)

Anna Clark lists the three most important things to be aware of now that the courts have approved Detroit's bankruptcy filing. She notes that this case will have a major impact on other cities, which look to Detroit as an example of the possibilities in their future.

Fighting Corruption Polls Off the Charts (MSNBC)

Zachary Roth reports on a new poll from represent.us which shows that the vast majority of Americans support tougher campaign finance laws. Unfortunately, incumbents seem uninterested in changing the rules that helped to get them elected.

  • Roosevelt Take: Jeff Raines, Chair of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Student Board of Advisors, explains how a current Supreme Court case could further weaken campaign finance law.

Black Friday and the Race to the Bottom (The New Yorker)

George Packer ties low retail sales during the extended Black Friday weekend to the fights for a higher minimum wage. Executives should recognize the practical truth that workers need to be able to afford to shop too.

Tax Breaks for CEOs Pay for Million-Dollar Salaries (The Guardian)

Jana Kasperkevic explains the performance pay loophole that allows corporations to deduct millions in executive compensation from their federal income taxes. She draws a parallel between the results of that policy and the low wages of average fast food workers.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Director of Research Susan Holmberg and Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network alum Lydia Austin wrote a white paper calling on Congress to close the performance pay loophole. Read it here.

Low Bank Wages Costing the Public Millions, Report Says (WaPo)

Danielle Douglas writes that new data from the University of California at Berkeley's Labor Center shows that bank employees are relying heavily on public assistance, to the tune of $900 million a year. The banking industry reported $141.3 billion in profits last year.

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