- 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.
Jeff Madrick, a senior fellow at SCEPA, reviews three recent books on Obama's health care law in the New York Review of Books. In "Obama & Health Care: The Straight Story," he uses the three narratives - from a professor at Princeton, a grassroots activist, and a former Kennedy advisor - to provide an analysis of the history of health care reform efforts and the battle to pass the historic Affordable Care Act (ACA). These three prospectives take us through Obama's negotiating tactics, Tea Party town hall infiltrations, and Republican strategy memos to provide support for Madrick's conclusion that the ACA can - and must - survive if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the mandate that appears to hold all the details together.
Madrick writes, "On balance, the ACA is a significant legislative achievement. Many thought Obama should postpone his campaign for health reform when he took office in order to deal with the collapsing economy. The authors of these three books disagree. Even without the individual mandate, Medicaid under the ACA will be expanded dramatically to enroll another 15 million or so Americans. Those under twenty-six would still be able to stay on their parents' health plan. The state exchanges may entice more people to sign up for insurance when the advantages of policies are made clear to them, which may in turn increase competition among insurance companies."
by Rick McGahey, SCEPA Faculty Fellow
June 1, 2010 - This morning's employment report for May is an unmitigated disaster, both for the economy and for President Obama's re-election prospects. The United States is now seeing the effects of inadequate government spending and growing austerity. Private sector demand is simply not enough to boost the economy into a stronger growth path. And declines in government spending and employment are pulling the economy down.
Although the unemployment rate remained stagnant at 8.2 percent, the jobs number is the really bad news. Only 69,000 jobs were created, far below expectations, and an acceleration of the jobs slowdown we have seen in the last two months. After three months where jobs grew at an average of 252,000 a month, we are now seeing a sharp decline in job creation—154,000 in March, 115,000 in April, and now May's terrible number.
Republicans and others, focusing on high deficit-to-GDP ratios, have falsely claimed that the Obama Administration has, in the words of Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), "doubled the size of government." This claim is so demonstrably false that the nonpartisan fact checking site, PolitiFact, rates it as a "pants on fire" lie.
The truth is government investment and employment are both declining, and this is holding down economic and job growth. Michael Mandel at the Progressive Policy Institute recently pointed out that government investment has dropped over 8 percent since 2009, and is still falling. As this chart shows, private non-residential investment has been growing, while residential investment has been flat, and government investment declining.
Declining government investment is matched by declining employment. States are required to balance their budgets, and they continue to cut employment. A recent Wall Street Journal article showed what the unemployment rate would be if government jobs had stayed at the level of December 2008. As this chart shows, unemployment would be a full point lower, close to seven percent instead of the eight percent-plus we are suffering with.
Today's employment report dramatically underscores what many economists have been arguing throughout this recession—we need more government spending, not less. Interest rates on U.S. ten-year Treasury bills were around 1.5 percent this week, and today's report could drive them lower. The government could be borrowing at close to zero real interest rates, and investing the money, creating jobs and economic demand.
Instead, we are on the opposite course—continued state and local austerity, and no prospect of increased stimulus, held captive by a Republican party that wants further budget cuts. We are deep into 2012, and the economy is getting worse, not better.