THINK TANK ROUND-UP: ONLINE BARGAINS EDITION.

Today's TTR explains why employer-sponsored health insurance will survive the reform process, how worker benefits need to adapt to real-world conditions, what should be done to improve U.S. trade with Africa, and how the recession is affecting American internet use.

  • Why health reform won't end employer-sponsored insurance. [PDF] The Economic Policy Institute released a policy paper detailing health care spending by employers across a variety of industries, and demonstrating why "play-or-pay" proposals for employers wouldn't result in the cataclysmic end of employer-sponsored health insurance, as many critics have suggested. EPI uses previously unpublished data about health coverage to show that providing care is actually less burdensome for many industries than common discussion suggests. The paper looks at several model workers and walks through the decisions employers will make when deciding whether to provide coverage, and finds that most of them would continue to sponsor insurance even after health care reform takes effect. -- CKS
  • Pregnant women left out in the cold. Worker benefits are no longer in touch with the modern American family, according to the Center for American Progress, and there is a growing need for support for part-time workers, especially for single mothers who try to provide both financial and household support for their children. Seventy percent of children are raised in families with either a single-parent provider or two working parents. Meanwhile, seventy-five percent of working women are pregnant at least once while in the workforce, and few of them have the luxury of taking maternity leave for more than a couple of months. Since most part-time jobs don't offer maternity leave and many full-time employers are wary of hiring pregnant women or women who may become pregnant, it is particularly hard for these women to hold jobs. CAP suggests better family leave options, improved access to Temporary Disability and unemployment Insurance, and an improved childcare system for workers. --CIA
  • The African trade dilemma. To coincide with the annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, held in Nairobi with U.S. and sub-Saharan African delegates, the Brookings Institution offers an analysis of the forum's past failings and prospects. AGOA, enacted by the Clinton administration to facilitate duty and quota-free commerce, aid, and investment in the region, has been heralded for generating respectable profits for African producers. However, this policy brief asserts that not only is revenue usually overstated, but African exports have actually declined under AGOA (54.5 percent of total exports to the U.S. in 2004 has become just 36.5 percent in 2007). AGOA's potential can be fully realized through collaborative initiatives to remedy cost drivers affecting African "competitiveness." Recommendations include improving infrastructure and transportation, and streamlining the often cumbersome approval process for agricultural exports. -- AS
  • Internet to the rescue. Eighty-eight percent of internet users, or 69 percent of all Americans, have used the internet to cope with the recession, according to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Some of the most active users are those 52 percent of Americans hardest hit by the recession. People are using the internet in conjunction with other sources to better understand the origins and possible solutions to the economic crisis—and 34 percent of them contribute their own reactions and ideas about the economy online through social networking sites, among other venues. Some of the main activities of these so-called “online economic users” include using the Internet for price comparisons, finding online bargains, job searching, advice about protecting personal finance, seeking online coupons, and selling personal items. -- MD

-- TAP Staff

Previous Round-Ups:
7/28/2009
7/21/2009

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