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Baby Steps: Obama is moving toward better policies to support families, but more must be done.

TCF policy associate Clio Chang writes on the recent changes made to paid family leave policy in the U.S. including President Obama's recent presidential memorandum allowing parents to take 6 weeks paid leave. She relates this long-overdue issue to the greater issue of a "lack of government financial support when it comes to children." One of the simplest solutions to addressing this problem is giving cash to families with children, otherwise known as a child cash allowance.

It’s especially strange that American families are shortchanged, given how expensive it is to raise a child here, regardless of income level. The Department of Agriculture's annual child expenditure report states that raising a child is projected to cost a quarter of a million dollars. Child care alone can cost as much as $16,430 per year (although costs vary greatly by state). While parenthood should be something that anyone can strive for, even working families are increasingly priced out of raising a healthy, productive child

Access Clio's article here.

Tags: income inequality, child poverty, cash allowances

Bursting The Myths About LBJ

TCF fellow Michael Cohen reminds us of how much influence a president actually has, particularly on domestic issues, in the face of the legislative process. Cohen gives an overview of the policy wins accomplished by President Lyndon Baines Johnson including passing Medicare and Medicaid, expanding public education, new initiatives on children’s health care, mental health, and anti-poverty programs, immigration reform, highway beautification, and environmental restrictions on air and water pollution. It's essential to recognize that the failures and successes of LBJ are at the root of our politics today.

As a legislative battler, Johnson viewed politics in crude, transactional terms, where political support could be traded for a parochial benefit that he, as president, could provide. (This was a man, after all, who believed that he could convince Ho Chi Minh to give up his fight for a unified Vietnam in return for a Tennessee Valley Authority for the Mekong Delta.)

Read Cohen's full article.

Tags: president, lyndon johnson, legislation, lbj, domestic policy

Martin Luther King Wouldn’t Be Very Happy With This Medicaid Map

TCF fellow Harold Pollack describes how Martin Luther King Jr. was a staunch defender of not only race equality, but also of justice in the health care system. He uses an infographic map to exhibit what Medicaid recipients look like on a US scale:

Read Pollack's full article featured in Huffington Post.

Tags: medicaid, health insurance, health care reform

Community Benefits Agreements Under Attack

January 20, 2015 BY: Amy Dean TOPICS: Social Insurance

TCF fellow Amy Dean tells of new policies emerging in Michigan debating whether projects funded by public subsidies should produce real benefits for the public. Agreements between developers and the community are known as community benefits agreements, or "CBA's." Getting rid of these agreements has been met with frustration from the public, and with good reason.

Holding companies that receive public support accountable is not a radical idea. “We were pursuing a very capitalistic notion,” Madeline Janis, director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, a community group responsible for winning several CBAs, told The New York Times last year. “Public money is an investment on behalf of the community and taxpayers. We’re saying that the developers who receive the benefit of public investment should give a return on that investment to the community.

The full article is featured in Al Jazeera.

Tags: public spending, gop, developers, community unions

For New Congress, It’s Same Old, Same Old

Despite newly re-elected Speaker John Boehner's affirmation of compromise in his opening speech for the 2015 legislative session, it looks like the GOP is already up to its old hijinks after just a few weeks. First, the Republican House cohort has already caused an upset in Social Security policy, particularly with disability benefits, which is slated to run out of funding next year. Unfortunately, Republicans are unlikely to vote for any tax increase and Democrats are unlikely to agree to benefit cuts, leaving program funding that is scheduled to expire little hope for reinstatement. Michael Cohen mentions several other bills already passed by House Republicans including:

In addition, Republicans pushed through another effort to fund the Keystone pipeline, even though President Obama has made clear he intends to veto the legislation. Another rule change would force the Congressional Budget Office to do something called “dynamic scoring” on the economic impact of legislation. This change will make it easier for Republicans to propose tax cuts that appear revenue neutral, while actually blowing up the deficit.

The full article is featured in Boston Globe.

Tags: tax reform, social security, john boehner, gop congress

Why the Wealthy Stopped Smoking, But the Poor Didn’t

January 14, 2015 BY: Harold Pollack TOPICS: Social Insurance

TCF fellow Harold Pollack is referenced in a Washington Post article about the demographics of today's smoking population. The article cites that people in the lowest income bracket are more than twice as likely to be smokers than those in the highest income bracket, despite the exponentially rising cost of cigarettes.

Lower income smokers take longer and deeper drags on each cigarette than their remaining better-off counterparts. This strengthens their addiction (e.g., craving) and makes it more difficult to turn a resolution to quit into an enduring change.

Check out the article here.

Tags: smoking tax, smoking, demographics


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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