Posts from September 2012

Workers & Economic Inequality

Housing Policy After The Truly Disadvantaged

Blog Post by: Stefanie A. DeLuca , on September 28, 2012

A PowerPoint by Fellow Stefani DeLuca on poverty and housing policy.

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One Homeless Young Mother and Her Toddler

Blog Post by: Harold Pollack , on September 27, 2012

I happen to have crossed paths with a wonderful young woman whom I will call Jessica. She is an 18-year-old unmarried mom who cares for her toddler. A few days ago, Jessica and her mom had a bad falling out, and her mom kicked her out. Chicago's finest drove Jessica and her toddler to the station, and suggested that she call 311. Someone dutifully arrived to drive Jessica and her toddler to a gritty nearby shelter. The driver and the shelter manager signed some forms. As far as I know, that was pretty much all the social service intervention Jessica would receive.

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Social Insurance

Graph: The Submerged State

Post by: Benjamin Landy , on September 26, 2012

When Mitt Romney dismissed "the 47 percent" of Americans who don't pay federal income tax as "victims" and "dependent on government," he revealed an ideological worldview that fundamentally misunderstands the way the U.S. government uses the tax code and social programs to redistribute wealth. "The reality he glossed over is that nearly all Americans have used government social policies at some point in their lives," writes TCF Fellow Suzanne Mettler in Monday's New York Times. "The beneficiaries include the rich and the poor, Democrats and Republicans. Almost everyone is both a maker and a taker."

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Manufacturing As If People Mattered

Blog Post by: Website Administrator, on September 26, 2012

Killing time in a doctor’s waiting room in the mid-1990’s, I chanced to pick up a well-thumbed copy of TIME.

In their cover story, the editors had undertaken to enlighten America on the awesome benefits of free trade (It was in a different waiting room half a dozen years later where a different issue of TIME lavished praise on this great guy running for President named George W. Bush. You can see for yourself how the fortunes of both the magazine and the man have hit the skids.)

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Obama’s Budget Policies Would Be Better for Growth than Romney’s

Blog Post by: Andrew Fieldhouse , on September 26, 2012

The most pressing economic challenges facing the United States remain stubbornly high unemployment and underemployment rates, a legacy of the Great Recession that began at the end of 2007 and from which the labor market has yet to fully—or even largely—recover.

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Workers & Economic Inequality

Graph: How Progressive Is the Tax Code, Really?

Post by: Benjamin Landy , on September 19, 2012

Many gallons of ink (and millions of pixels) already have been spilled decrying Mitt Romney's latest Randian diatribe—captured in a secret video of the candidate talking to a group of wealthy donors—that characterizes the 47 percent of Americans who didn't pay federal income tax last year as "dependent upon government" and "victims," incapable of "[taking] personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Members of the progressive blogosphere, particularly Ezra Klein's Wonkblog team (see here, here, and here), have done an admirable job debunking this myth. The gist of the objection isn't that Romney's claim was untrue—indeed, about 47 percent of Americans had their entire federal income tax liability wiped out last year, thanks in part to tax breaks and deductions passed by Republicans under George W. Bush. The issue is that Romney was cherry-picking the most progressive of all the taxes that Americans pay.

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The Two Types of Teach For America Alums

Blog Post by: , on September 19, 2012

I've grown so frustrated with TFA.  For over 20 years now, they've done a world of good in countless ways.  But I've always believed that their greatest impact would be the actions of their alumni.  The recruitment materials I pored over my junior year in college told us that we could see how the system was failing from the inside and then go out and fix it—whether that was by remaining in the field of education or as a lawyer, politician, school board member, concerned citizen, or whatever other route we chose.  The idea was that, over time, an army of active citizens with elite credentials and experience in our failing inner-city and rural schools would wield enough influence to finally fix what ails our educational system.

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Workers & Economic Inequality

Graph: Are We Winning the War on Poverty?

Post by: Benjamin Landy , on September 17, 2012

Last week's Census Bureau report on income, poverty and health insurance in 2011 was filled with worrying data points: rising income inequality, median incomes down 1.5 percent, one in six Americans in poverty. Still, a few measurements exceeded expectations. The official poverty rate fell 0.1 percent to 15 percent, far better than analyst predictions of 15.5 percent. Overall, 46.2 million people were living below the poverty line in 2011 ($22,811 for a family of four with two children), including 16.1 million children.

46.2 million sounds like a lot, and it is. But it is important to keep in mind that without government programs, the poverty rate would be much worse. Because the Census Bureau hasn't changed the way it measures poverty since the Johnson administration first launched the War on Poverty in 1964, transfer payments like SNAP (food stamps) and the federal earned income tax credit (EITC) aren't included in the official measure. By the Census Bureau's own reckoning, including those programs in the official definition would reduce the number of people in poverty by 3.9 million and 5.7 million, respectively. Removing Social Security, which is already included, would add 21.4 million people to the official figure. Removing unemployment benefits adds another 2.3 million. 

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Workers & Economic Inequality

Graph: Census Report Shows Middle Class Decline in 2011

Post by: Benjamin Landy , on September 13, 2012

New figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau yesterday show that income inequality in the United States rose in 2011 to the highest point in more than forty years, leaving nearly one in six Americans in poverty. While average household income for the richest 20 percent continued to rise towards pre-recession levels, income for the other 80 percent of Americans fell for the fifth year in a row.

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Education

Anrig: Chicago Teachers’ Strike: What Do We Want? Better Management Gurus Might Help

Blog Post by: Greg Anrig , on September 12, 2012

Vice-President for Programs Greg Anrig's piece in the Pacific Standard:  

The Chicago teachers’ strike, which is now entering its second week, represents more than a simple dispute about pay and benefits, as many observers have noted. It’s more like a gauntlet thrown down against the entire education reform agenda—the broad centrist policy movement that seeks to bring merit pay, metrics, pink slips for underperformance, and other business school concepts to the American schoolhouse. Indeed, one of the main sticking points in the dispute is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s desire to tie a substantial part of teachers’ professional evaluations—as much as 40 percent—to their students’ performance on standardized tests.

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