Valuing Labor Means Helping Workers, Especially When There Are No Jobs

As we take a three-day weekend to celebrate those who labor, let us take a moment to remember the families who won’t be planning picnics or a last trip to the beach. Despite some positive economic indicators, 9.7 million Americans are still out of work, almost a third for more than six months. More than seven million more have taken part-time work at poor wages to make ends meet even though they need full time work to pay the bills. And three-quarters of a million more have little hope and have given up looking for work and as a result are no longer counted as “unemployed.” (They are just “out of the labor force.”)

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We Can Fix This. We've Done It Before. Re-imagining Government

When I talk to people who work in Washington, DC these days, I'm struck by the resignation. The political/policy professionals with whom I interact regularly are discouraged by the political posturing that undermines serious efforts at addressing national needs. They've counted noses and can tell me why nothing can happen in the next month, before November, before the end of the year, before the next presidential election. They tell us why we should give up. The fatigue is palpable, heavy, and contagious.

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What is this Country about Anymore?

Meet Mark. He's a 58 year old, college-educated veteran who lives in Oregon. He was laid off last September and has been unable to find work since. Mark's state unemployment benefits ran out in May. Since funding for the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program was cut last December, Mark and more than three million other Americans, including nearly 300,000 veterans, have been denied access to a second six months of support — a vital financial lifeline in this tough economy. Mark is way behind in his rent, is selling everything of value he owns, and fears he will be homeless soon.

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A. Philip Randolph: Relentless Advocate for Economic and Racial Justice

April 15 is the 125th anniversary of the birth of A. Philip Randolph, a staunch trade unionist, civil rights activist, and advocate for federal action to ensure every American receives equal protection under the Constitution. His 90 years of life spanned tumultuous times for the nation and were filled with violent repression and astounding advances, but Randolph never stopped fighting for structural change. As many despair the past three years of gridlock in Washington, it may be useful to remember the broader arc of history that Randolph helped to bend toward justice.

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Raising Wages: Overtime

It's not often that a policy wonk at a think tank puts an idea out there that gets picked up by the White House. But the hope that it will happen it is why we all do this work. And sometimes, the stars align.

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Delayed Health and Safety Standards Cost Lives

On Tuesday, I testified at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce about why critical health and safety standards were being delayed and how we could improve the timeliness and transparency of the rulemaking process. A condensed version of my oral testimony follows, along with a link to my written testimony.

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Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet-to-Come

When A Christmas Carol was written in 1843, England's early industrial revolution was unencumbered by employment law, workplace safety standards, or any semblance of public health standards.

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Cost-Benefit Analysis: The Stunning Triumph of a Flawed Tool

Last Thursday, Cass Sunstein, the former administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), argued that “cost-benefit analysis has become part of the informal constitution of the U.S. regulatory state” and that this represents a “stunning triumph.”  While it’s true that cost-benefit analyses are being applied to rulemaking across an array of laws and programs, we believe that this represents the triumph of a flawed analytic tool and is not a triumph for American citizens. It is simply not appropriate to apply cost-benefit analysis to many aspects of policymaking, and the results from such analyses should not be the final determinant of the value of many proposed standards or safeguards.

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The Disconnect Between American Voters and Members of Congress

This afternoon, the Senate voted 51-48 to restore reasonable tax rates on the top two percent of Americans. Ending the Bush tax cuts for households making more than $250,000 would generate almost a trillion dollars in revenue over the next ten years. This revenue could be used to pay down the deficit and build a platform for future growth by investing in education, infrastructure, research, clean energy, and more. With this vote, a majority of senators acknowledged the need for more revenue and for a fairer tax system.

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