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Here’s How India Can Increase the Chances of a Successful Climate Deal in Paris
Neil Bhatiya September 3, 2015

There are less than 100 days left until the climate negotiations in Paris. As TCF policy associate Neil Bhatiya and independent analyst Tim Kovach explain, there's a lot more that India could be doing to prepare for the talks:

Regardless of its contents, India’s submission is likely to disappoint many observers. According to a recent analysis, pledges thus far will put us on course to emit between 56.9 billion and 59.1 billion tonnes of GHGs a year by 2030, 58 to 64 percent higher than the cap scientists have identified to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2C above pre-industrial levels. If the rumors are true, India’s proposed program would do little to change this trajectory. These factors may lead some to conclude that the Paris agreement will be a failure, as it will not guarantee that emissions stay within this safe range.

Learn more on the steps that India should be taking to combat climate change at Grist.

Progress on Democracy for Guatemala
Stephen Schlesinger September 3, 2015

In a new Letter to the Editor published in the New York Times, TCF fellow Stephen Schlesinger comments on the "remarkable" progress that has been made in Guatemala in recent years.

Guatemala’s civic sector, not previously seen as much of a player in Guatemalan affairs, has shown an admirable resilience despite threats, intimidation and acts of violence in confronting unlawful behavior in the nation.

Read Schlesinger's entire letter at the New York Times.

Federal Dollars for Coding Academies? Proceed with Caution
Robert Shireman September 3, 2015

Today's coding academies are aptly coined "trade schools for the digital age." What were once high-quality courses (with a price tag) available to anyone who wished to learn computer programming skills may soon be corrupted, money-making classes that dupe their participants. An article from EdSurge describes what TCF fellow Bob Shireman also fears is another for-profit college crisis in the works.

It is worth remembering that the for-profit college scandal, which is still in the process of being cleaned up, began as a noble effort to allow companies to gain access to federal funds only if they ran innovative training programs that led to good jobs.

Read the full article about when federal aid goes wrong for students via EdSurge.

The Unusual Alliance Trying To Fix America’s Broken Child Care System
Julie Kashen September 2, 2015

Child care remains a vital resource for working families, however the price of this service has risen drastically in the past few decades. An article recently published by ThinkProgress describes the inadequate assistance provided to families, but also the inadquate wages paid to caregivers—despite high price tags for their service. TCF fellow Julie Kashen comments in the article:

“Government has to play a role here,” Kashen said. “There should be a public investment in this public good that reflects both the needs of parents and providers.” The proposal calls for the federal government to spend about $168 billion a year. “What’s happened so often in Washington around this is we end up fighting for scraps for support for child care,” she said. The proposal “is much more about making a realistic investment that’s both aspirational but also more true to what is really needed,” she said.

Read ThinkProgress's article authored by Bryce Covert.

Iran Deal Critics’ Pending Defeat Shows the Downsides of Hawkishness
Michael Cohen September 2, 2015

In the past, many Democrats felt pressure to appear "hawkish" in order to insulate themselves from Republican criticisms of insufficient vigilance in the fact of foreign threats. This sentiment has slowly changed, writes TCF fellow Michael Cohen, with Democrats' response to the Iran deal exemplifying this ideological shift.

For years, fear of political attack drove Democrats into dangerous positions on the use of military force, most of all with the 2002 Iraq War vote. With the Iran vote, Democrats are discovering that support for diplomacy rather than war is the more fertile political terrain. If anything, Democrats may have the opportunity now to put Republicans on the defensive for their insufficient dovishness and “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to the use of military force. If that were to happen, the Iran deal might represent more than an historic nonproliferation agreement—it might actually put America on the path to a sane foreign policy.

Read Cohen's full discussion of the shift among Democrats towards more diplomatic policies at World Politics Review.

A more accurate measure of economic output
Mark Thoma September 1, 2015

Measuring the economic success of the U.S. is no longer as simple as using the terms gross domestic product (GDP) and gross domestic income (GDI). TCF fellow Mark Thoma explains how there are two new measurements which include gross domestic output (GDO) which is the average of GDP and GDI and GDPplus which is an optimally weighted combination of GDP and GDI, with weights that are allowed to evolve over time. Thoma suggests that:

"...the best approach to characterizing how well the economy is performing at a moment in time, and how well it's likely to do in the future, is to use a measure such as GDPplus in combination with other windows into the state of the economy such as the unemployment rate, industrial production, consumption, investment and so on."

Read Thoma's full article from CBS News.

Saving SSDI
Harold Pollack August 31, 2015

SSDI, or, the Social Security Disability Insurance program, may soon encounter some changes in the form of funding. Apparently the trust fund that finances the program is set to run out of money on nearly the same day as the 2016 presidential election. While some reforms have been taken to preserve the program and its recipients, TCF fellow Harold Pollack explains that a major shift must be enacted in order to keep program revenues flowing and recipients insured. 

Given SSDI’s immediate shortfall and the possibility of chronic deficits, it is sensible to reallocate payroll taxes as the Obama administration suggests, to avert an immediate shortfall. Over the long-run, though, our entire Social Security system, including SSDI, needs greater revenues in some form to maintain its fiscal stability. We would be wise to raise these revenues sooner rather than later.

Pollack's article is featured in The Atlantic. You can read the full SSDI piece here.

Using Child Allowances to Cut Black and Latino Poverty
Clio Chang August 31, 2015

Policy associate Clio Chang recently wrote a piece that exposes the fact that there are now a higher number of black children living in poverty than there are white children. To combat this, Chang suggests establishing a cash allowance program to provide families with additional assistance with raising a child. The think tank Demos cites Chang's research and shares supplemental graphs to further support the validity of a child cash allowance policy.

In addition to being one of the easier anti-poverty programs to implement, a robust system of child benefits (including a child allowance) would also be the most advantageous welfare state expansion imaginable for Black and Latino families. It would go further than any other welfare program at closing racial poverty gaps and easing racial gaps in income more generally.

Read Matt Bruenig's article and check out the graphs he provides.

Chicago Survey Finds Crooks Get Guns from Pals, Don’t Keep Them Long
Harold Pollack August 29, 2015

TCF fellow Harold Pollack shares the surprising findings of a Chicago survey that reveals how guns make their way into the hands of criminals. Pollack says that for many of those caught with guns, their weapon possession is more centered on self-defense than the consequences of getting caught and locked up. 

Pollack says: "About 70 percent said they got their guns from family, fellow gang members or through other social connections. Only two said they bought a gun at a store. It’s unclear how many of those surveyed were felons, but they can’t hold a state firearm owner’s permit — so they can’t legally purchase a weapon at a store."

Pollack's article on gun posession and misuse is featured in the Chicago SunTimes.

Progress and Frustration in Gun Control
Michael Cohen August 28, 2015

This week, Americans were shocked as yet another shooting tragedy struck the country—with the violence this time captured on live television. Following the deaths of two journalists at the hand of a lone gunman, TCF fellow Michael Cohen discusses the ongoing gun control debate and why Walmart's announcement this week that it will stop selling semiautomatic assault rifles is a step in the right direction.

The unfortunate reality is that change in America never comes quickly. It took a quarter century for same-sex marriage to become the law of the land; national health care had been a progressive goal for decades and, tragically, it might take as long for the national debate on gun violence to turn. But change is already afoot, and the fact that Hillary Clinton used the shooting as an opportunity to talk about gun control suggests that the politics on this issue are slowly being transformed.

See more of Cohen's thoughts on America's struggle with firearms at the Boston Globe.

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