- On Capitol Hill
- On Wall Street
- In the Press
- Policy Reform Work
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.
SCEPA Faculty Fellow Willi Semmler recently published a SCEPA Working Paper, with co-authors Lars Gruene and Alfred Greiner, that analyzes when and how we should transition to green energy. Titled, "Economic Growth and the Transition from Non-Renewable to Renewable Energy," the authors argue that the transition to green energy can and should take place before non-renewable energy is exhausted. Their research uses a canonical growth model with two energy sources, including non-renewable energy that creates negative externalities in the form of CO2 emissions and renewable energy that emits much less CO2. Ultimately, the authors propose a solution that, given the cost of future externalities inherent in the continued use of fossil energy, recommends tax rates and subsidies to ensure a more rapid transition to renewable energy.
The research is part of SCEPA's Economics of Climate Change project, which will begin a public Speaker Series this Fall with the generous support of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. The series will feature experts on domestic and global policy dicsussing different approaches to a green economic transition, energy independence, the production of sufficient energy supply, and employment.
by Rick McGahey, SCEPA Faculty Fellow
This morning's release of the August employment report continues the run of weak economic news that we've seen throughout the summer. Total employment rose by an anemic 96,000 jobs; with a slight decline in government employment, private sector jobs rose by 103,000. The unemployment rate edged down to 8.1 percent, due to fewer people looking for work, not vigorous job growth. After July's somewhat encouraging job growth of 163,000, we seem to be back on a weak trendline.
Monthly job growth this year has averaged only 139,000, compared to a not-much better average of 153,000 in 2011. The effects of the too-weak federal stimulus have now run their course, and there are no other drivers of growth from the private sector. Although the Federal Reserve retains the option to take further action, they have been hesitant to move, and monetary policy is not the primary medicine for this economy. Fed Chairman Ben Bernacke's speech at the annual Jackson Hole conference said that economic growth is "far from satisfactory" and the Fed will be "forceful" in pushing for a stronger recover.
Job creation by Republicans? "Zee-ro!"
The recent political conventions provided little hope of further stimulus. Republicans remain set on cutting federal spending and providing deeper tax cuts to the wealthy. Romney has said he will replace Bernacke when the chairman's term expires in January 2014 and the Republican platform, in a nod to libertarian Ron Paul, hints at exploring a return to the gold standard, couched as investigating "possible ways to set a fixed value for the dollar."
President Obama warned against Republican policies, but told Americans we face a "hard path" to full economic recovery. Democrats, especially Bill Clinton, put the best face possible on the weak recovery (Clinton had an effective rhetorical device trope about who had created jobs in the recovery: "President Obama? 4.4 million. Republicans? Zee-ro."). But continuing weak employment will make this a nail-biter right down to November, when the October report will be released on Friday, November 2, just four days before the election.
On August 31, 2012, the California State legislature sent bill SB1234 to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. The legislation would create a statewide retirement program for private workers, targeting those who are not covered by a retirement plan at work. The proposal is based on SCEPA's State GRA plan and was introduced by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles.