The approach to appropriate income and wealth distribution has always been at odds between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans seem to deny the existence of racial gaps when it comes to this distribution, whereas Democrats aim to alleviate them. TCF fellow Suzanne Mettler is cited in the Al-Jazeera America article saying that Republicans use items such as "subtle tax breaks and benefits such as marriage subsidies and the mortgage interest deduction," which are part of what she calls the "submerged state" to garner electoral support.
Black income growth stalls when a Democratic president is paired with a Republican Congress. Furthermore, the longer Democrats are in power, the stronger the economic gains for blacks. By contrast, blacks fare worse when Republicans are in office longer. There are similar racial gaps in the criminal justice system.
Read the full article from Al-Jazeera America.
TCF fellow Suzanne Mettler's theory of the "submerged state" in America is used as evidence of the slight migration of the middle class to the right on the political spectrum. The Salon article cites Mettler's theory saying that government does in fact benefit the middle class under Democratic leadership, but the benefits go largely unnoticed because they com in everyday forms of healthcare and housing to the assuming middle class.
“The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits… The share of benefits flowing to the least affluent households, the bottom fifth, has declined from 54 percent in 1979 to 36 percent in 2007, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis published last years.”
Read the rest of the Salon story here.
Last week the Supreme Court received an appeal for Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case that, if passed, would ruin the leaps and bounds that labor unions have made in the past half-century. TCF fellow and labor rights expert Moshe Marvit confirms that if successful, the new law would affect tens of thousands of union contracts and would force millions of public employees into a right-to-work model.
If the Supreme Court accepts this case, the decision could have enormous impacts on public sector workers by either allowing agency fees to remain but requiring all workers to opt in, or eliminating fair-share fees all together. That the agency fee in its current form could remain is possible, but unlikely—otherwise, the court would not have agreed to hear the case.
Read Marvit's article from In These Times.
TCF fellow Michael Cohen reminds us that there's potential for South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham to be a contender in the 2016 Republican presidential primary race. Although Senator Graham claims he is "more right than wrong," there's contention when it comes to his foreign policy predictions and decisions, many of which inspire fear in his constituents. Cohen points out the numerous faults of the Senator who regularly uses hyperbolic language and repeatedly dubs America “the good guys” in the global community.
Graham would likely defend his past statements by saying that Obama screwed up all the gains made in Iraq by withdrawing U.S. troops in 2011. It’s of course a regular GOP refrain. Yet for Graham, it’s an interesting position to take because under the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq, Obama was mandated to end the U.S. troop presence if he could not get the Iraqis to agree to provide legal protections for U.S. soldiers. This is a subject that Graham likely knows something about, seeing as he is judge advocate general in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Indeed, if there is anyone in the Senate who should understand the need for clear legal protections when deploying U.S. troops overseas it would be Graham.
Check out Michael Cohen's full article.
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.
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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