TCF policy associate Jake Anbinder explains some of the trends associated with the recent downturn in gas prices and what it means for public transit ridership. He says that there may be less correlation between gas price and transit use than was expected, with changes in ridership more likely to be associated with cultural changes. Anbinder also explains that changes in ridership is highly linked to location with uneven growth patterns across the country.
The key indicators for mass transit will come from those booming urban areas in the south and west of the country — cities in which people own cars, but where effective land use and transit planning have the potential to reduce the need for them.
It's in those cities, where low gas prices have the potential to do the most damage to nascent transit projects, that the war for the future of public transportation is being waged. And if the recent past is any precedent, they exhibit a troubling lack of consistency when it comes to the growth of mass transit.
Read Anbinder's full article.
TCF fellow Mark Thoma goes over the reasons typically cited for what caused the financial crisis including a lack of regulation, financial innovation that didn't live up to its promise, and low interest rates from the Fed. He says that it is a constant debate between "those who claim lack of financial sector regulation caused the crisis and those who claim overregulation." Thoma reports that today's evidence "points away from those who claim overzealous government regulation was at fault."
"While there was a rapid expansion in overall mortgage origination during this time period, the fraction of new mortgage dollars going to each income group was stable. In other words, the poor did not represent a higher fraction of the mortgage loans originated over the period. In addition, borrowers in the middle and top of the distribution are the ones that contributed most significantly to the increase in mortgages in default after 2007. Taken together, the evidence in the paper suggests that there was no decoupling of mortgage growth from income growth where unsustainable credit was flowing disproportionally to poor people."
Read Thoma's full article from CBS Monewatch.
In the wake of Tuesday's State of the Union address delivered for the 7th time by President Obama, there has been substantial discussion over how he will govern during his remaining time in office. TCF fellow Michael Cohen says it it looks like it's going to be up to the American people who were given a choice by the President between, "his view of America’s future and that of Republicans." The speech was deliberate in its divisive rhetoric, pitting the working class Democrats versus the 1 percent Republicans, potentially making Obama seem like a bit of a lame-duck president.
In that sense, Obama’s State of the Union was a lame-duck speech, but it was also a hard-nosed political speech that was intended to cast Democrats as the party of the middle class and of the forgotten man and woman, and the Republicans as the party of the one percent. Obama showed that he fully intends not only to maintain his relevance as president, but that he will do everything in his power to leave behind as his legacy a strengthened Democratic Party and a political narrative in which the fundamental differences between the two parties could not be clearer.
The full piece from Boston Globe can be read here.
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.
TCF fellow and USC professor Edward Kleinbard was interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition with host David Greene among other tax experts. They discuss the segment of the 2015 State of the Union address in which President Obama spoke on tax reform and the increase taken from the wealthiest 1 percent. Here is the interview:
Access the audio transcription here.
In recent decades, and especially since 2000, the richest Americans have enjoyed soaring income and wealth while the rest of the population's living standards have stagnated. The Century Foundation was one of the first institutions to raise serious concerns about these trends and propose ideas for improving economic conditions for all Americans- not just the fortunate few.
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