Over a century ago, progressive reformers were deeply worried about how wealthy interests had hijacked American politics populating state legislatures with cronies who did as they were told and otherwise steamrolled the will of the people.
To level the playing field, reformers worked to create mechanisms for direct democracy through state referendum and ballot initiatives, allowing voters to bypass corrupted political systems.
Senator Schumer offered a much needed intervention in the tax debate in a speech on Tuesday. What Schumer said is that revenue-neutral tax reform was a fantasy and that any big Congressional deal on tax reform had to include higher rates on the wealthy, as well as more revenue overall.
Yes and yes to both points.
As Schumer pointed out, one major distortion in today's tax code that needs to be fixed is its favorable treatment of the wealthy, particularly through the historically low rate of taxes on capital gains—the source of much income for the wealthiest Americans:
When it comes to climate change, there is one area in which the United States leads all other nations: Our media gives more time and attention to climate deniers than other countries. A recent study from researchers at Oxford University and Birkbeck College took a look at the level of climate skepticism in media coverage in the United States, Brazil, China, France, India, and the United Kingdom.
While the September jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provided plenty of political ammunition, it remains an ambiguous signal about the current labor market.
Young people, who are at a disadvantage when hiring is slack, tend to fare worse in such good news/bad news situations. They confront the same challenges as the working population overall, but are not as well-positioned to endure them. In this case those obstacles include weak growth, persistent rates of long-term unemployment, and a substantial rise in workers holding part-time positions because they cannot find the full-time work they need.
Here's one very interesting piece of news from today's jobs report: The public sector has stopped firing people and started hiring. According to the report, government at all levels has added 68,000 workers in the past three months.
Just a year ago, Occupy Wall Street commanded attention from the media and politicians alike. Yet last night the central concern of that social movement—one shared by a majority of Americans—wasn't even mentioned as both candidates and the moderator ducked the problem of economic inequality.
Yes, Obama did say several times that America does best when the middle class is growing. But he never overtly talked about the growing chasm of income and wealth—or how a big reason that ordinary people are not doing so well is because so much new prosperity created in today's economy gets channeled upward to a tiny sliver of the population.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, with the support of the mortgage task force formed by the Obama administration last January and the Justice Department, has commenced the long overdue prosecution of the Big Banks for their role in triggering the financial crisis of 2008. (That is not a typo—the Justice Department has finally moved against the Big Banks.)
Yesterday brought the sad news that noted environmental advocate and scholar, Barry Commoner, had passed away. As pointed out in the many tributes to his life and achievements, Commoner was one of the founders of modern environmentalism and embraced a more complex, holistic view of environmental issues. Commoner believed in addressing multiple issues, such as racism, sexism, war, and—most importantly—the failings of capitalism at the same time as environmentalism because they were, and still are, all related issues of a larger central problem.
When Diane Ravitch changed her mind about education reform, she became one of the leading critics of a movement that dominates American policy. For the most part, both Democrats and Republicans now push to make school systems resemble economic markets. They want fewer teacher protections, more testing, and more charter schools for parents to choose from. President Barack Obama's Department of Education, headed by education reformer Arne Duncan, shares many policy goals with those of George W. Bush's administration. Ravitch herself was once part of the movement, promoting student assessments and helping to create voluntary academic standards. After serving as assistant secretary of education under George H.W. Bush, she held positions at the pro-school-reform movement Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and was a member of the Koret Task Force at Stanford's Hoover Institution, which focuses on school choice and "accountability." But in 2009, Ravitch left both positions and wrote a book announcing her move to the other side of the debate.
Say you want to buy a house or a car and you need a loan to do it. You do what every personal finance site recommends and obtain a free copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com.
Then, urged on by the ads from TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian—the “big three” credit reporting firms that compile the reports—you opt for not only the free report but also shell out for what the companies promise is your actual three-digit credit score. A number! Now, you may think, I know what the auto lenders and banks making mortgages really think of me. I have a sense of what rates I qualify for and what type of car or home I can afford.
While Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers have become emblematic of outside spending at the national level, it is local outside spending that could have the greatest impact on policy.
Jerry Perenchio is California's homegrown Sheldon Adelson, and he's using his fortune to decide the future of the nation's most populous state. California's income inequality is among the worst in the country. And as the ongoing fight over Proposition 30 shows, that often translates into political inequality.
Yesterday, hundreds of non-partisan organizations came together for National Voter Registration Day to ensure that hundreds of thousands of Americans will be able to exercise their freedom to vote and make their voices heard this upcoming November.
For the first time ever, people around the country who love American democracy have decided to come together to observe a National Voter Registration Day on September 25, 2012—a day to pull out all the stops in making sure that every eligible voter is registered and able to vote in this critical election year. Hundreds of non-partisan organizations have agreed to reach out to help hundreds of thousands of people get registered to vote so that they can fulfill their civic duty as citizens and make their voices heard in November.
No idea is more central to conservative economic thinking than the belief that cutting taxes leads to higher economic growth. One can certainly understand the appeal of this belief: Itwouldbe great if government could collect the same amount of revenue, but with much lower tax rates, because those rates fostered strong growth.