Archive for the ‘Social Security’ Category

Psychology of Public Policy – IHSS as a Model for a New Welfare State

In Budget Politics, California, Child Care, Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, History and Politics, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Welfare State, Youth Policy on April 27, 2011 at 4:30 am

Introduction:

(For previous parts in this series, see here)

One tricky dilemma that progressives have had to face about the welfare state has been the contradiction between our desire to provide universal protection against the great social ills (poverty, disease, lack of education, poor housing, and unemployment), which tends to be broadly supported by society, and society’s resistance to violations of the social norm of reciprocity. The easiest attack on welfare has always been to assert that other people are getting something for nothing and thus divide society between the payer and payee.

While progressives ran headlong into the brick wall of social resistance in the welfare politics of the 1970s, it’s not foreordained that all forms of social welfare have to meet the same fate. It is possible to be both right and smart – and learn to tack into the wind of public opinion.

Looking at the IHSS model gives us one possible solution for how to do just that.

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Hunting the Elephant in the Room: Inequality (Part I)

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Taxes, Welfare State on April 7, 2011 at 1:00 am

Introduction:

Sometimes in the history of public policy, an intellectual critical mass on how to deal with a problem is achieved in advance of the political system’s readiness to incorporate this new knowledge. One of the best examples of this is the “rediscovery” of poverty in the U.S during the late 1950s by writers like Michael Harrington, Oscar Lewis, Gabriel Kolko, and others. All of these writers laid the groundwork for the War on Poverty several years before Lyndon Johnson would assemble the necessary Democratic majority to make it happen.

We can see something of a similar moment today in regards with inequality. Scholars are increasingly turning their attention to the issue and returning with novel insights, the issue of inequality is becoming more pressing in the popular press despite the conventional wisdom-makers’ resistance to talking about it, and we are beginning to see the outlines of an intellectual critical mass that could serve as the basis for a policy agenda.

In part 1 of “Hunting the Elephant in the Room,” I’ll talk about what what the current trend in inequality studies can teach us, and whether there’s an opening in public opinion for this new approach. In part 2, I’ll discuss how this knowledge can be applied to our taxation system, and in part 3, how to extend anti-inequality thinking into the murky area of “pre-tax inequality;” i.e, the world we live in.

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Psychology of Public Policy – Social Insurance

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, History and Politics, Housing, Inequality, Liberalism, New Deal, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Taxes, Welfare State, Youth Policy on February 14, 2011 at 6:05 am

Introduction:

The current state of American public policy can best be described as a stalemate: progressives have been stalled on further stimulus efforts; at the same time, conservatives came into power pledging opposition against any cut to a single-payer government health insurance program, and there’s little public stomach for virtually all spending cuts.

As I’ve discussed before, a major reason for this stalemate is ultimately due to how people think about public policy. In reality, neither progressive or conservative ideologies are hegemonic within the American electorate. Instead, public opinion is very much a mix of contradictory and paradoxical tendencies – we want to spend more money on the poor, but are opposed to welfare; we think foreign aid should be cut to a level that’s several times larger than current spending.

In this situation, policy victory goes to finding narratives that present our policies in a way that aligns favorably with public thinking, and in designing policies that lend themselves to narratives that flow with, not against the grain of public opinion.

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Fiscal Policy By Dummies: A Progressive Review of Deficit Plans

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Inequality, Liberalism, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Taxes, Welfare State on December 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Introduction:

Following the on-going drama of the Deficit Commission – which just adjourned without even voting on its own proposal, and which never came close to getting the necessary votes to trigger an up-or-down vote in the Senate – has been rather painful. Especially in light of the Republican takeover of the House and the ongoing dispute over extending the Bush tax cuts and raising the debt ceiling, the grip of austerity thinking seems paradoxically strong and weak at the same time, pervasive enough to be omnipresent within the media yet not actually persuasive enough to get anyone to vote for anything they dislike.

However, there is one point that needs to be cleared up – behind the banalities of “living within our means” and other balanced-budget platitudes, there is ideology at work. The budget is not just a technical issue, but a moral document – it is a choice between a high road or a low road to the future.

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Public Sector Aesthetics – Why They Matter

In Culture, Economic Planning, European Politics, Health Care Reform, Higher Education, Housing, Inequality, Mass Transit, Political Ideology, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Taxes, Urbanism, Welfare State on November 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Introduction:

One of the intellectual shortcomings of progressives, and friends of the public sector more broadly, is that we tend to approach public policy from an empirical perspective entirely bounded by questions of money and measurements. While this isn’t a bad thing in itself – certainly “reality-based” public policy is better than the kind of public policy we see coming from the Tea Partiers – it means that we ignore the aesthetic side of the public sector.

This is a mistake, as it opens up a vacuum that conservatives have exploited when they don’t actually have a case on empirical grounds – the evidence for the inherent superiority of the private sector might be weak, but it’s easy to get voters to emotionally identify with the image of endless lines at the DMV.

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Putting It (Back?) On the Agenda: Poverty

In Budget Politics, Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, Inequality, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Welfare State on November 15, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Introduction:

Back in what turned out to be the halcyon days of 2007, policy types were actually beginning to talk about cutting the poverty rate in half. Three years later, we’re looking at one of the largest and fastest increases in poverty in a generation. 44 million Americans – one in seven of us – now live in poverty, an increase of four million people just in the last year.

Even if one were to grant that the lenient treatment shown to the banks on TARP, the bonuses, the cramdown bill, credit card regulation, and other progressive defeats over the last two years were part of the cost of rescuing a postindustrial, neoliberal economic system (and I don’t), there is nonetheless a moral obligation for the Obama Administration to do something for those who have been hit hardest, and who have been least able to protect themselves going forward into the second term.

To the extent that it ever was put on the agenda, poverty must come back on the agenda.

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21st Century Social Minimum

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, History and Politics, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Social Security, Welfare State on October 21, 2010 at 1:00 am

Introduction:

There is something fundamentally schizophrenic about the way that conservatives claiming that poverty doesn’t matter because of material advances in standard of living, and then attack the poor for owning luxuries like cellphones. After all, cellphones are as much a sign of material progress as refrigerators, washing machines, or indoor toilets.

However, when debating with conservatives, it never really helps to focus on contradiction or empirical refutation – that a single parent with one child living on $40 a day in Los Angeles isn’t materially secure when the EPI estimates that a basic family budget in LA runs at $113 a day. The real point is this – social standards of what it’s necessary to live like a civilized person change with time, and the poor change with it.

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Classic TRP: Front Line of Defense – Rebuilding Unemployment Insurance

In Budget Politics, Economic Planning, Economics, Financial Crisis, Full Employment, History and Politics, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, New Deal, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Taxes, Welfare State on June 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Introduction:

Five months ago, I re-posted one of my most frequently-read pieces, “The Second Bill of Rights and the Progressive Mission,” both to celebrate the 66th anniversary of the Second Bill of Rights and also to announce the publication of my first policy paper with the New America Foundation, “Freedom From Fear: Using the Social Security Act to Rebuild America’s Social Safety Net.”

Today, I’m very pleased to announce the publication of my second paper with the New America Foundation – “Front Line of Defense – Building a New Unemployment Insurance System.” This policy paper builds on work done on this blog and on “Freedom From Fear,” and it would not have come to pass had it not been for the support that readers of The Realignment Project have shown, both at this site and cross-posted at DailyKos, Calitics, and EconomicPopulist. In its first year, The Realignment Project has seen both 20,000 visits, but also the beginning of a very fruitful relationship with the New America Foundation, and I’d like to thank all my readers for their help.

(For a direct link to the pdf, click – Front Line of Defense)

To celebrate the publication of “Front Line of Defense,” I’ve re-posted the first TRP blog post on unemployment insurance below the fold.

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What Now For Big Government Liberalism?

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, History and Politics, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, New Deal, Political Ideology, Political Parties, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Welfare State on April 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Introduction:

Recently, I’ve discussed what comes next for health care policy after the passage of the Affordable Choices Act – but there’s also been a healthy amount of debate about what the impact of health care reform will be on other legislation – such as financial regulatory reform. However, Matt Yglesias has also added to the debate by expanding our field of inquiry to the welfare state itself; in his theory, the establishment of health care reform marks an end to major expansion of the welfare state.  Future debates will be about “how to boost growth, how to deliver public services effectively, and about the appropriate balance of social investment between children and the elderly.”

As someone who has written about this topic previously, I have to say that I really disagree (and I’m not the only one). Health care reform does not mark the limits of the welfare state, and there are many basic areas of social welfare where the U.S is deficient or completely lacking. The future of “big government liberalism” is one of new areas of expansion, not a shift to a politics of means and priorities.

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66th Anniversary of the Second Bill of Rights

In Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, History and Politics, Liberalism, Living Wage, New Deal, Political Ideology, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Taxes, Welfare State, WPA on January 11, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Today is the 66th anniversary of FDR’s historic “Second Bill of Rights” Address. To mark this occasion, I’ve re-posted a classic Realignment Project post on the Second Bill of Rights below.

At the same time, I’m thrilled to announce the publication of “Freedom From Fear: Using the Social Security Act to Rebuild America’s Social Safety Net” by the New America Foundation. This piece is my first published policy paper, and as its very existence is directly due to the blogging I’ve done here and on other blogs, I wanted to thank everyone who’s read my work for supporting The Realignment Project and helping to make this happen.

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