The New America Foundation's video presentation of "Rethinking the American Social Contract."
The New America Foundation, in partnership with the International Labor Organization on July 11, 2011, convened a group of experts to explore rethinking the American social contract based on Damme's new paper.
Senior Policy Analyst, Next Social Contract Initiative
New America Foundation
Director for Policy Planning in Employment
International Labor Organization
EPRN researcher and MIT George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management
Policy Director, Economic Growth Program and Next Social Contract Initiative
New America Foundation
Yesterday, a conservative panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that sharply undermines the power of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and, more broadly, of the government as a whole to regulate business. The ruling marks the second time this year that the court has radically undercut the NLRB. In January, the court held that Obama’s 2012 recess appointments to the board were invalid, effectively undoing more than a year of NLRB decisions.
Now, the body often referred to as “the second most important court in the land, after the Supreme Court,” has held that the NLRB cannot require employers to post notices informing employees of their labor rights. The decision, which comes less than three weeks after lack of regulatory enforcement led to a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that killed 14 and left about 200 injured, opens the door for businesses to challenge requirements that workers workers be informed of their health, safety and employment rights. [READ MORE]
Our very expensive federal retirement programs crowd out needed expenditures for poor children and youth in the areas of education and job training along with many other public investments. This crowding out will become much more severe in the next few decades, unless we are willing to reform the retirement programs and begin to limit these expenditures.
First published online March 8, 2013, in The Washington Post.
The tide is turning in the debate over whether all employees should be able to earn paid sick leave. The benefits for those who need to be able to take a day off when they have the flu or want to keep a sick child home from school have not been in doubt. From a people perspective, it has never made sense for workers to face the hard choice between going to work sick or staying home and losing a day’s pay and maybe even being told not to bother coming back. Managers and professionals have always been able to use paid sick leave to recover from a routine illness, of course.
The sticking point has been whether American companies could create jobs and would stay in business if they had to allow hourly workers to earn paid sick days. Business organizations and lobbyists ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the National Restaurant Association answered with a resounding no! And in some places, that was enough to scuttle efforts to make a minimum number of paid sick days an employment standard that all workers could rely on—although business owners have been part of all the campaigns for sick days, and essential to its success in several places. <Read more>
First published online March 6, 2013 in the U.S. News and World Report.
Just before the November election, news leaked that the Congressional Research Service had been strongarmed by Senate Republicans into withdrawing a report that analyzed the last six decades of economic data and found, contrary to deeply held Republican dogma, that there was no correlation between top marginal tax rates and economic growth. Six weeks later, after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, we were reminded that 15 years ago the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied to kill all federal funding of gun research, leaving the public without solid information with which to debate gun control. [Read More]
First published online Feb. 13,2013, in In These Times.
Social Security is not a private opt-in or -out choice like the decision to fund an IRA. Instead, for decades, it has involved employees and employers providing secure retirement benefits generation after generation. The money workers pay into Social Security today funds benefits for today's retirees, and today's retirees did the same during their working lives for those who drew Social Security payments decades ago. The importance of this function of Social Security was well understood until recently.
Today, some people believe that Social Security will not be there for them even though there are equitable solutions that will fully fund Social Security for the foreseeable future. In planning for the future of Social Security, we need to recognize that it is no small thing to break our long-standing intergenerational obligation to ensure that Social Security retains its role in protecting its recipients.
First published online Feb. 11, 2013, by Truthout.org.
The Credit Suisse list of the Top 20 US "tax expenditures" totaled $900 billion for fiscal year 2012. That list includes two items that affect retirement.
The larger category, which comes in at number two on the Credit Suisse Top 20 list, is a $138 billion subsidy for private pensions. It accounts for 15.3 percent of the Credit Suisse Top 20. Number 13 is Social Security at $26 billion, at 2.9 percent of the Credit Suisse $900 billion.
Those private retirement subsidies cost over 5 times as much as Social Security payments. So, if cutting costly tax breaks is the goal, then we get far more savings by putting tax subsidies to private pensions on the chopping block. But for some reason, those private tax breaks are getting a pass, while paying Social Security benefits are taking all the heat.
The campaign against Social Security stems mainly from three misunderstandings about its funding and operation: (1) that Social Security is going bankrupt, (2) that Social Security is essentially the same as private pensions, IRAs, and 401(k)s, and (3) that Social Security is a tax on a par with personal and corporate income taxes. None of these beliefs is correct.
First published online Feb. 10, 2013, by Truthout.org.
Click here to read a second Social Security op-ed by Dannin.
The stunning decision today by a federal court to invalidate President Obama’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is being treated by the media primarily as a constitutional power struggle between the president, the Senate and the judiciary. But for labor unions—and the millions of workers they represent—the court ruling is just the latest evidence that the NLRB—a New Deal-era federal agency set up to handle all labor disputes—needs updating. It’s time for a new, more decentralized approach to protecting worker rights that supplements the current structure, which funnels all worker complaints through a single central agency in
First published online on Jan. 25, 2013, in In These Times.
Neal Soss' much-discussed chart of the United States' 20 largest "tax expenditures" tells us nothing about the value in terms of costs and benefits to various constituencies of each expenditure. Work place issues expert Ellen Dannin provides an example of how we can look at employer-provided health insurance.
A chart created by Credit Suisse's Neal Soss, showing the 20 largest tax expenditures for the United States, is making the rounds. The term "tax expenditure" means any money spent by the government through the tax code, such as tax credits, deductions and exemptions.
The chart itself simply lists the 20 largest tax expenditures and the cost of each to the budget. How the list is understood is another matter. <Read more>
Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission. Click here.
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