Our projects are designed to empower policy makers to create positive change. With a focus on collaboration and outreach, we provide original, standards-based research on key policy issues.
SCEPA joined with the Economic Policy Institute on Capitol Hill to brief congressional staff and policy experts on tax expenditures, or incentives given through the tax code without scrutiny by Congress.
SCEPA economists are working on the prospects for a more progressive economic order to emerge from the shock of the recession. They have published papers and documents that place current events in a longer-term context as well as policy proposals to deal with short-term concerns. They are also documenting the emerging discussion of how the discipline of economics is reacting to the Great Recession and the questioning of conventional economic analysis.
Lance Taylor, a SCEPA Faculty Fellow, presents an overview of his new book, Maynard’s Revenge, in a Google Tech Talk.
The book, published this November by Harvard University Press, is a timely analysis of mainstream macroeconomics, posing the need for a more useful and realistic economic analysis that can provide a better understanding of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis.
The government spends $143 billion through tax breaks in an effort to expand pension coverage and security. Yet, over half of the American workforce does not have a pension. Retirement insecurity hurts business plans, workers’ lives and retiree well-being. Reform is needed.
SCEPA’s Guaranteeing Retirement Income Project, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and in collaboration with Demos and the Economic Policy Institute, has a plan to guarantee safe and secure retirement income for all Americans.
- Published on Thursday, September 20, 2012
On September 20, 2012, CNN ran an op-ed by SCEPA Director Teresa Ghilarducci and SCEPA Faculty Fellow Rick McGahey, “Americans are Not Moochers.” Ghilarducci and McGahey dispel Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s claim that 47 percent of Americans expect government programs to provide for their basic needs.
According to Ghilarducci and McGahey, “Digging deeper into why 47 percent don't pay federal income tax, what we find are many former taxpayers: twenty-two percent are the elderly, living mostly on Social Security, a benefit they got by working and paying payroll taxes. Others are unemployed or are paid close to the minimum wage, so they don't have enough income to file any taxes.”
They point out that what is missing from the discussion is the fact that the lack of progressivity in the U.S. tax system. While in theory, higher income individuals pay a higher tax rate, it is the middle class that pays the highest percentage of their income in total taxes due to lower tax for capital gains and larger deductions that reduce taxes for the highest earners.
Ghilarducci and McGahey conclude that Romney’s suggestion that older Americans and low-income households feel entitled to government assistance is a theory that does not fit the data. In fact, less than 4% of the U.S. population has received a year’s worth of income-based assistance programs such as food stamps, and more than 50 percent of older people looking for work are too young to receive social security, leaving them vulnerable.
- Published on Thursday, September 20, 2012
SCEPA Faculty Fellow Willi Semmler and Research Assistant Raphaele Chappe review the major provisions of the Obama administration's financial reform law, known as the Dodd-Frank Act, in their recent paper, "Financial Reform in the U.S.: A Critical Surveyof Dodd-Frank and What is Needed for Europe" The paper focuses on the monitoring of systemic risk, the limitation on proprietary trading, the regulation of the hedge fund industry, of credit rating agencies, the rules applicable to derivative trading, as well as the critical role of the large investment firms for the implementation of the new regulatory efforts.
The paper compares the U.S. and EU regulatory frameworks and attempts to assess how international markets will respond to these regulatory changes. Finally, the paper reflects upon whether Dodd-Frank can eliminate the conditions that created the 2007-2008 financial crisis, and assesses the link between a successful financial reform and the restructuring of an entire power dynamic in Wall Street and Washington.
- Published on Wednesday, September 19, 2012
On September 11, 2012, the New York Times published an article by reporter Steven Greenhouse, "Should the 401(k) Be Reformed or Replaced?" The article bills SCEPA Director Teresa Ghilarducci as a leading critic of 401(k) retirement plans, saying, "Every good retirement system needs to have adequate accumulation for individuals, the money needs to be invested appropriately and the payout needs to meet the needs of retirees for life. Unfortunately, 401(k)'s fail in all three categories." Ghilarducci also cites the inefficiency of providing $80 billion in annual tax breaks for 401(k)s, a sum that largely benefits high-income individuals likely to save without a tax incentive.
The article cites Ghilarducci's proposal calling for the creation of Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs) as gaining support. The plan would require both employee and employer contributions into a federal retirement fund that would earn a 3 percent, inflation-adjusted minimum return pegged to the long-term growth rate of the U.S. economy. Account balances would be converted into annuities that would provide a life-long stream of income in retirement.