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Book Review: We Are Better Than This

Writing for the CFA Institute, Matthew Gelfand reviews TCF fellow Edward Kleinbard's We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money. Gelfand discusses the significance of Kleinbard's book for the financial industry.

"Kleinbard has written two books in one. The first is a philosophical road map of the progressive case for economic policies on income distribution, infrastructure spending, and social insurance, among others. This discussion is of less utility to financial analysts but—despite Kleinbard’s clear philosophical leanings—is worth mentioning here because his comments on the topic establish that he is a nonideological student of fiscal policy."
"The second book-within-a-book will be of interest to financial analysts who want to understand the mechanics of fiscal policy. It is an informed instruction manual that draws on a large body of data and insightful analysis yet drives forward in layman’s terms rather than economic jargon."

The rest of Gelfand's review is available here.

Tags: tax system, tax reform, social security, fiscal policy, economic policy

We Can’t Talk About Housing Policy Without Talking About Racism

A Clinton-era study called Moving to Opportunity (MTO) that looked at the effects moving individuals out of high-poverty neighborhoods with vouchers and into census-tracts with less than 10 percent poverty to see if this would improve their life outcomes. TCF fellow Stefanie DeLuca countered the article and says that programs like this do not go far enough to assist those living in poverty.

For DeLuca and Rosenblatt, there’s plenty that MTO did right but confronting endemic poverty and segregation requires a more systematic approach. That is, something perhaps more akin to the Baltimore Mobility Program (BMP), through which 2,400 Baltimore families have relocated since 2003. Whereas MTO offered housing search counseling to program participants, BMP provided that plus post-move counseling, second move counseling if necessary, and financial literacy and credit repair training.

Read the full article featuring Stefanie DeLuca's work.

Tags: low-income families, inner city, baltimore housing mobility program

A Conversation with Crowdfunder Luis Lang

TCF fellow Harold Pollack, who has chronicled health insurance issues in the past, conducted an interview with an individual who has incurred high costs for medical procedures and holds often conflicting (but mostly negative) views of the Affordable Care Act. Pollack delves into the politics of health care reform in the interview and provides a detailed transcript:

Lang: So I filled it out. I got approved. I go for my fourth session and the bill went from $80 … and I was expecting it to go down … went up to over $600.

Pollack: Oh, wow.

Lang: And so I’m like “Okay, I need an explanation of this.” And what they told me at that moment was because the Affordable Healthcare Act going into effect, he could no longer give me the discounts he was giving me. But I was okay with it because the three injections that I got was enough to clear my eye out.

Read the full transcription printed in

Tags: obamacare, insurance, health coverage, health care reform, affordable care act

The Cost of Child Poverty

Compared to other advanced countries, the U.S. is not taking comparable steps to reduce child poverty in the form of funding and tax credits. The price we pay as a society for this lack of action manifests in the form of social dysfunction such as serious health risks and high incarceration rates.

There is another, far more sweeping idea that America has until now refused to try, though it has been widely successful in other advanced countries: providing direct cash allowances to poor families for every child they have. Many South American nations provide such allowances for those who meet certain conditions, such as school attendance and doctor visits. Of the thirty-five countries in the UNICEF study, only the US does not have such a policy. Why not?

Madrick's article was published in the New York Review of Books.

Tags: tax credits, poor families, developed world, child poverty, cash allowances

The New Era of Executive Action: How President Obama Is Advancing a Progressive Agenda

The New Era of Executive Action

By Mark Zuckerman, Sam Adler-Bell, Jacob Anbinder, Neil Bhatiya, Mike Cassidy, and Clio Chang

TOPICS: Education, Foreign Policy, Social Insurance, Workers & Economic Inequality

President Obama's has used his "pen and phone" strategy to great effect in pursuing a progressive policy agenda through executive actions. For this report, TCF staff have reviewed the wide range of the Obama adminstration's executive actions to date in search of the most important.

Continue Reading

Supply-Side Social Insurance Simply Doesn’t Work

Social safety net programs in the United States are indeed helpful, but by no means are they an adequate policy solution to lifting every family above the poverty line. TCF fellow Mark Thoma says that social insurance programs are not just a quick fix, but an true investment in our future, therefore need to not be taken lightly.

Even if the number had been calculated correctly, it would overstate the true cost of social insurance programs due to the failure to consider “dynamic effects.” That is, these programs don’t just provide income to struggling households in times of need, income that can have a valuable stimulative effect during economic downturns; social insurance programs are also an investment in our future.

Read Thoma's article from the Fiscal Times.

Tags: supply side, social safety net, social insurance, middle class, food stamps


Social Insurance

Social Insurance

Compared to other advanced nations, America’s retirement security and health care systems offer weaker protections against risks we all face. The Century Foundation’s work focuses on ideas for strengthening Social Security, pensions, and health care – including steps for building on the Affordable Care Act.

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