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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The Unemployed: We Need Action, Not Excuses

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014—At the close of seven weeks of "Witness Wednesdays" events on Capitol Hill, advocates and lawmakers issued an urgent call to renew emergency unemployment compensation ahead of the August recess. As members of Congress head home for town hall meetings and listening sessions, nine and a half million unemployed Americans will have the opportunity to directly contact them.

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Congress's Latest Assault on the EPA

On July 9, Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced H.R. 5034, the Stop the EPA Act of 2014. Incorporating the worst aspects of previous attempts to undermine the ability of federal agencies to address needed public protections, this bill would require a joint resolution of congressional approval for any standard developed by the U.S.

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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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U.S. Defense Spending in Eight Charts

This week, the House is expected to debate and vote on the 2015 Defense Appropriations Act. On May 7, the House Armed Services Committee unanimously approved $496 billion in discretionary spending and $79.4 billion in war operations spending for the budget that starts Oct. 1. We explore how this stacks up against the rest of the world, who benefits most from defense spending, and what these funding levels mean for other national priorities.

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The Bridge to Prosperity: Reverse Reckless Cuts, Restore Our Infrastructure, and Revive Jobs

The United States is facing a growing infrastructure crisis and a lingering jobs crisis. Most of America’s infrastructure was built in the decades directly after World War II. Each day in America, more than 700 water mains break. Seventeen percent of water pumped by municipal pumping stations never reaches consumers’ faucets – a waste of 2.4 trillion gallons of precious water each year. Potholes on the nation’s roads cost the average family $355 in additional car repairs annually, deficient roads and bridges will cost businesses an estimated $43 billion a year in transportation delays and shipment rerouting, and too many children attend schools with leaky roofs, rattling windows, and decrepit plumbing.

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What We Could Invest In if We Ended Special Corporate Tax Breaks

Services for American families have been under constant attack over the past several years. Head Start slots were cut, Meals on Wheels deliveries were curtailed, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been squeezed. House leaders have repeatedly insisted the country cannot afford such programs while continuing to push forward hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for corporations. What could we as a nation invest in if we ended these special tax favors?

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Stories of Americans Cut Off of Emergency Unemployment Compensation

It was a long and cold winter in Washington, DC, in more ways than one. At the end of 2013, Congress allowed Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) to expire, leaving 1.3 million Americans who had been without work for more than six months suddenly cut off from their lifeline benefits. Unemployment benefits don't provide a lot – about $269 a week on average – but it is enough to put some food on the table, pay the most urgent bills, and hang on by your fingernails until work can be found. Without this support, many families are forced to drain their retirement accounts and sell their belongings. Some face homelessness.

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A Tale of Two Corporate Tax Plans

Last month, House Ways and Means Chairman David Camp (R-MI) released his long awaited tax reform package. In it, he proposed overhauling the corporate tax code, eliminating many deductions and loopholes.

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Public Protections Budget Dashboard -- FY 2015

A critical function of our government is to protect us from known harm. We expect our national government to keep contaminated food off the grocery store shelves and out of restaurants; to prevent industrial facilities from poisoning the air and water in our communities, and to ensure we have safe workplaces. When our health and safety systems are working well, they tend to be invisible to us, and we take them for granted. It's when they fail that we pay attention. And we are likely to see more failures in coming years if we continue to reduce the resources available to public agencies when the scope and complexities of the challenges they face are increasing.

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