News & Comment
Blogs and Opinion
Why Jobs Must Be Our Goal Now, Not Deficit Reduction by Robert B. Reich, robertreich.org | January 4, 2013The news today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is that the U.S. job market is treading water. The number of new jobs created in December (155,000), and percent unemployment (7.8), were the same as the revised numbers for November. Also, about the same number of people are looking for work (12.2 million), with additional millions too discouraged even to look. Put simply, we’re a very long way from the job growth we need to get out of the gravitational pull of the Great Recession. That would be at least 300,000 new jobs per month. All of which means job growth and wage growth should be the central focus of economic policy, not deficit reduction. read more »
We’re Tumbling Over an Inequity Cliff by Imara Jones, colorlines.com | January 3, 2013By shifting the definition of who is rich, the “fiscal cliff” deal passed by the Congress this week extends many of the notions that have made the United States the most economically unfair it has been in almost 50 years. At first blush, the American Taxpayer Relief Act, as it’s officially known, makes a lot of progress on the changes required to bring racial and economic fairness to America’s tax code. For the first time in almost 20 years, tax rates on the wealthy will rise. The estate tax on inheritances over $5 million will go up. The capital gains tax, which is the cornerstone of preserving the wealth of the super rich, will edge upward. These are all all positive developments. But the trouble is not in the top line of the deal, it’s in the details. read more »
Fixing The Economy, A New Focus For Congress by Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Washington Post | January 3, 2013The Perils of Pauline melodrama over the “fiscal cliff” will drag on as Washington heads toward another “debt ceiling” faceoff that will climax over the next eight weeks or so. This farce captivates the media, but no one should be fooled. This is largely a debate about how much damage will be done to the economic recovery and who will bear the pain. There is bipartisan consensus that the tax hikes and spending cuts that Congress and the White House piled up to build the so-called fiscal cliff are too painful and will drive the economy into a recession. So the folderol is about what mix of taxes and spending cuts they can agree on that won’t be as harsh. Largely missing is any discussion of how to fix the economy, to make it work for working people once more. Just sustaining the faltering recovery won’t get it done. read more »
The Endless Cliff by Robert Kuttner, prospect.org | January 2, 2013The behavior of political elites on the subject of deficits, debts, and the economic recovery requires some combination of Buñuel and his contemporary John Maynard Keynes to do it justice. With the economy stuck at about $1.5 trillion below its potential and at least 15 million people unable to find full-time jobs, the debate is fixated on the question of how to cut the deficit instead of how to restore jobs, wages, and output. Until President Obama changes the subject to the real issue of economic recovery, he will be mired in an enervating form of retrench warfare where budget cuts are inevitable. He needs to isolate Republicans on the issue of how to produce a recovery, just as he did on taxes. Here again, public opinion is on his side if he will lead. Cutting Social Security and Medicare are no more popular than raising taxes on the middle class. read more »
We Can’t Fix Our Economy Without Confronting White Supremacy by Imara Jones, colorlines.com | December 21, 2012Regardless of when the president and Congress decide to end their current budget standoff, it is increasingly clear that the emerging deal will do very little to reverse the fiscal wrongs at the heart of the tax code. These wrongs have transformed America’s economy into the least equitable and most racially unfair it’s been in almost a half century. Our collective denial over the fundamental injustice at the heart of our economic system is a result of white supremacy. The words “white supremacy” are radioactive to be sure. It pains me to write them. However, as a trained economist I go where the facts lead me. Since I have written potentially inflammatory words, let me be clear about what I mean. read more »
'Right to Work' for Less Laws Have Racist Origins by Kenneth Quinnell, aflcio.org | December 20, 2012Last week, after Michigan became the latest state to pass "right to work" for less legislation, many began to dig into the history of such laws and discovered that one of the earliest pushes for "right to work" came from an extreme right-wing activist Vance Muse, who was staunchly anti-communist, anti-integration and anti-union. Muse was the leader of the Christian American Association, an organization that fought to pass "right to work" in more than a dozen states in the 1940s. Working with conservative business leaders and segregationist groups, the Christian American Association first pushed for so-called "anti-violence" laws that were designed to clamp down on picketing by unions. After they successfully passed that law in Texas and in other Southern states, they moved on to "right to work" in 1945, passing the first such law in Texas in 1947. In Florida and Arkansas, the Christian American Association used messaging that compared union growth to race-mixing and communism. read more »
The Voter Suppression Fight Underscores How Fragile Are Our Democratic Rights by Benjamin Jealous, The Guardian | December 18, 2012This was a banner year for progressives. We brought racial profiling and the death penalty back into the national conversation. Marriage equality made great strides, with four states legalizing same-sex marriage or failing to make it unconstitutional. Despite attempts at voter suppression and an ailing voting infrastructure, a diverse electorate loudly rejected the anti-worker, anti-immigrant, anti-equality agenda offered by an increasingly radical right wing. But last week's sneak attack on organized labor in Michigan reminded us that the enemies of democracy are still very much empowered and in power. The same groups that funded voter suppression again flexed their financial muscle to cripple worker's rights at their core. If we become complacent now, we risk losing all we have gained this year and more. read more »
Michigan Republicans Deny Police Officers and Firefighters the Right to Work by Dean Baker, Huffington Post | December 18, 2012That is what the headlines would say if anyone really believed that the anti-union laws passed last week in Michigan actually had anything to do with the rights of workers. When the legislature outlawed contracts requiring workers who benefit from union representation to pay for that representation, it explicitly exempted the police and firefighters' unions. If this law was actually about the "right to work," the Republican legislature and Governor Snyder were effectively denying the right to work to the state's police officers and firefighters. Of course this law has nothing to do with the right to work (RTW), as everyone involved knows; that is just the spin from the anti-labor coalition. This is why police unions and firefighters' unions were exempted. The Republicans were trying to buy off these workers with special favors, not singling them out for punishment. read more »
Remember the Children by Robert B. Reich, robertreich.org | December 18, 2012It seems as if every major interest has political clout – except children. They can’t vote. They don’t make major campaign donations. They can’t hire fleets of lobbyists. Yet they’re America’s future. Their parents and grandparents care, of course, as do many other private citizens. But we’re no match for the entrenched interests that dominate American politics. Whether it’s fighting for reasonable gun regulation, child health and safety overall, or good schools and family services – we can’t have a fair fight as long as special-interest money continues to poison our politics. read more »
A Real Right to Work by Nancy Folbre, economix.blogs.nytimes.com | December 17, 2012Most of us live in a world in which paid employment is the only avenue to economic self-sufficiency. Without it, families maintained by working-age adults are largely dependent on the kindness of strangers, otherwise known as extended unemployment insurance and food stamps. Yet, for more than four years, this nation has tolerated levels of unemployment that have essentially made it impossible for most of those seeking paid employment to find it, with a ratio of unemployed workers to job openings of more than three to one. The next time someone with a comfortable paycheck tells you that American workers no longer have a work ethic, please explain to them that right now, there’s not enough paid work to go around. Which is why we should fight for a real right to work. read more »
Stiglitz Says U.S. Faces `Anemic Recovery,' Needs More Stimulus, bloomberg.com | August 6, 2010
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz said the U.S. economy faces an “anemic recovery” and the government will need to enact another round of “better designed” stimulus measures. read more »
Employment Situation Summary, bls.gov | August 6, 2010
Small Business Bill Appears to Be Stuck in Senate, mcclatchydc.com | August 5, 2010
Pelosi Calls on House to Return Next Week to Move $26 Billion State Aid Package, thehill.com | August 5, 2010
Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw lawmakers’ summer plans into chaos Wednesday, announcing the House will interrupt its six-week recess and return to Washington next week to act on Medicaid and education funding for states. read more »
State Aid Bill to Bring House Back, Politico | August 5, 2010
Aid Package Aimed at Saving State Jobs Passes Key Hurdle in Senate, The Washington Post | August 5, 2010
Two Republicans crossed party lines to advance the $26 billion package, handing President Obama a victory in his campaign to bolster the shaky economy. With many governors struggling to close gaping budget deficits, administration officials feared a fresh round of state layoffs or tax increases could knock the nation's wobbly recovery off-course.
Senate Breaks Republican Filibuster on State Aid, Teachers’ Jobs, blog.aflcio.org | August 5, 2010
The Senate today voted 61-38, to end a Republican filibuster of aid to state and local governments that would save or create nearly a million jobs for teachers, public employees, police officers, firefighters and others. read more »
Foreclosed On—By the U.S. , The Wall Street Journal | August 4, 2010
James Currell is struggling to prevent his Minnesota home from being foreclosed. But his lender isn't a bank. It is the U.S. government.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is facing the prospect of foreclosing on a number of properties in the coming months, from homes to commercial buildings, a result of a souring mortgage portfolio it took over when it helped bail out Bear Stearns in 2008.
More Workers Face Pay Cuts, Not Furloughs, The New York Times | August 4, 2010
The furloughs that popped up during the recession are being replaced by a highly unusual tactic: actual cuts in pay. Local and state governments, as well as some companies, are squeezing their employees to work the same amount for less money in cost-saving measures that are often described as a last-ditch effort to avoid layoffs.
Businesses Split Over Tax Credits , The Wall Street Journal | August 4, 2010
In a letter to Senate leaders Monday, 22 firms including Bank of America Corp., General Electric Co. and Hewlett-Packard threw their support behind a recent proposal from Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) that would end certain small tax breaks on overseas income, raising $11.5 billion over 10 years to pay for tax incentives the firms are eager to maintain, including the research tax credit.