Posts from November 2011

Workers & Economic Inequality

Graph: Corporate Tax Breaks Cost U.S. Nearly a Quarter of a Trillion Dollars

Post by: Benjamin Landy , on November 17, 2011

Democrats and Republicans alike will admit that the corporate tax system is riddled with loopholes written by industry lobbyists. Still, it’s astounding to review just how little America’s corporations manage to pay. According to a new study from Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, twenty-five companies—led by Wells Fargo, AT&T, Verizon, and GE—received a combined $114.8 billion in subsidies from 2008 to 2010. The combined tax breaks for the 280 largest Fortune 500 companies that the report examined totaled nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars.

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Social Insurance

Graph: Health Care Costs Continue to Rise

Post by: Benjamin Landy , on November 10, 2011

America's health care crisis may not be the front page news that it was back in 2009 and 2010, but that doesn't mean that costs have come down. On the contrary, the latest data from the Commonwealth Fund’s annual report shows that U.S. health care costs are as out of control as ever, and still rising.

According to Commonwealth's 2011 report, more than one-in-four sick adults were unable to pay or experienced difficulty paying their medical bills in the past year. Nearly half of patients with complex health problems reported not visiting a doctor, not filling a prescription, or not seeking recommended care because they were worried about unaffordable costs or medical debt. That is double the number of people reporting similar problems in the eleven other industrialized nations that were polled, except for Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. Americans were also found to experience the worst health outcomes, despite spending more per capita on health care than any other country: nearly $8,000 per person annually. The next closest country, Norway, spent nearly $3,000 less.

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Workers & Economic Inequality

Graph: Parsing David Brooks’ Red and Blue Inequality

Post by: Benjamin Landy , on November 7, 2011

While it is heartening that income inequality is receiving increased attention in the press, conservative commentators are once again trying to reframe the debate as a referendum on the social habits of the poor. Last week, Paul Krugman tore into fellow New York Times columnist David Brooks for his contention that income inequality is really two distinct phenomena: “Red Inequality,” which is the wage gap between those with and without college degrees among the bottom 99 percent of wage earners in the Heartland; and “Blue Inequality,” the result of a coastal coalition of "old boys club" types, wielding outsized political influence and enjoying unjustly low tax rates.

According to Brooks, it is a mistake to focus only on Blue Inequality when the “disorganized social fabric of the bottom 50 percent” (Brooks identifies lack of education, divorce, having children out of wedlock, smoking, and obesity) is the real reason for enduring inequality. "Liberal arts majors like to express their disdain for the shallow business and finance majors who make all the money," Brooks opines. "It is easier to talk about the inequality of stock options than it is to talk about inequalities of family structure, child rearing patterns and educational attainment."

Krugman counters by pointing out that even the income share of the highest quintile—composed overwhelmingly of college graduates—has barely budged in thirty years, if you discount the bulk of that growth which comes from the top 1 percent. Everyone else, even families in the second highest quintile, have seen their share of income drop.

The rise of income inequality

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A Look Ahead at Obama’s Second Term

Blog Post by: Mark Thoma , on November 7, 2011

There will be a record number of women in the Senate next year—a testament to their growing political influence—and with Obama’s reelection there’s a chance that we could have the first woman chair of the Federal Reserve.

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Workers & Economic Inequality

Graph: Has the Decline of Unions Made America Less Equal?

Post by: Benjamin Landy , on November 2, 2011

Last week, The Century Foundation held an informal panel discussion featuring author and labor lawyer Tom Geoghegan, TCF Senior Fellow Richard Kahlenberg, and civil rights lawyer Moshe Marvit to explore the subject of Kahlenberg and Marvit’s upcoming book, Labor Organizing as a Civil Right. The book, which will feature a preface by Geohegan, will be released by TCF in April to coincide with the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., a champion not only of civil rights, but also economic justice and the rights of labor.

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