Famed former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling in recent years became a very public champion of conservative "small-government" politics. He also launched a video game production company that two years ago set up shop in Rhode Island thanks to $75 million[...]
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Paul Krugman is doing the rounds on his book tour (I saw him here in Philadelphia Tuesday night?yeah, I'm a dork, I got him to autograph my copy) and here he is on Democracy Now! to pound the drum for government spending. Oddly enough, Krugman's been accused of supporting austerity cuts, which just isn't true. For an hour, all he did was talk about how the government needed to spend our way out of this.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, for the remainder of the hour, we?re joined now by one of the world?s leading economists, Paul Krugman. He is a Nobel Prize-winning economist, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, also professor of economics at Princeton University and centenary professor at the London School of Economics. His latest book is End This Depression Now!
Paul Krugman, welcome back to Democracy Now!
PAUL KRUGMAN: Good morning.
AMY GOODMAN: How do we end this depression now?
PAUL KRUGMAN: Spend. I mean, it?s really?it?s actually?the economics is really easy. If we were to spend more money at the government level, and actually, at this point, largely, just rehire the schoolteachers, firefighters, police officers who have been laid off in the last several years because of cutbacks at the state and local level, we would be a long way back towards full employment. Other things to do, we could talk about monetary policy, debt relief for homeowners and students. But the core of it is, right now, there just is not enough spending, and we need the government, which can do it, to step in and provide the demand we need.
AMY GOODMAN: To say the least, you?re going against the accepted dogma on all television among the so-called leaders of our country. Spend? In a time when the government has the debt the size it has?
PAUL KRUGMAN: Right. So you can always say, "Oh, you know, $14 trillion." Everything about the U.S. economy is huge. Investors don?t think it?s a problem. Investors are willing to lend the U.S. government money at 1.8 percent interest. This is not the time. I?ll be all for worrying about the budget deficit once the?once the economy is off the bottom. But it is not off the bottom. We are in a depression. This is the time to spend.
AMY GOODMAN: Where do you get the money?
PAUL KRUGMAN: Borrow it, and then repay it later in better times, which is not at all?that may sound funny, but that?s exactly what we?ve done in the past. That?s exactly?how did we get out of the Great Depression? We got out of it by?actually, we got out of it before World War II, but thanks to the spending that preceded World War II, thanks to the military buildup. A little factoid people may not know, just this morning: Which of the major economies in the advanced world grew fastest in the first quarter of 2012? The surprise answer is Japan. Why is that happening? It?s because Japan is now spending a lot of money reconstructing after the tsunami. And that spending is driving rapid growth in Japan right now. We could all be doing that.
AMY GOODMAN: Let?s go to Mitt Romney for a moment, the presidential candidate?s economic plans and his critique of the Obama White House. This is what he said Wednesday at a campaign stop in Iowa.
MITT ROMNEY: President Obama is an old-school liberal whose first instinct is to see free enterprise as the villain and government as the hero. America counted on President Obama to rescue the economy, to tame the deficit and help create jobs. Instead, he bailed out the public sector, gave billions of your dollars to companies of his friends, and added almost as much debt to this country as all the prior presidents combined. The consequence is that we are now enduring the most tepid recovery in modern history.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response to Mitt Romney, Paul Krugman?
PAUL KRUGMAN: Boy, you know, don?t even know where to start. I mean, Romney?s technique is that?since basically every word he says is a lie, including "a," "and" and "the," you never know where to start. But this is?the idea that the?first of all, that Obama is responsible for the large deficits is just not true. It?s overwhelmingly the result of the Bush tax cuts, unfunded wars and a terrible economic crisis that began, of course, under Bush. The idea that the deficits are what?s holding us back is all wrong. The deficits are in fact what?s keeping us afloat. If we had tried to balance the budget, we would now be in a full, full-on replay of the Great Depression. So it?s all nonsense. It?s?and, by the way, the idea of Obama as somebody who governs from the left, I mean, Obama is?Obama?s positions are those of a moderate Republican circa 1992. It?s not?he?s not a leftist. What?s happening now is you have a radical-right Republic Party.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let?s talk about the Republicans, to House Speaker John Boehner, recently addressed the Peter G. Peterson Foundation?s 2012 Fiscal Summit.
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: The failure of stimulus, a word people in Washington refuse to say anymore, has sparked a rebellion against overspending, overtaxation and overregulation. Americans who take pride in living on a budget recognize that we can?t go on spending money that we don?t have. And our economy is stuck in large part because it is stuck with debt.
AMY GOODMAN: House Speaker Boehner also advocated making long-term changes to programs such as Social Security.
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: We can eliminate all the unfunded liabilities in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid tomorrow, and the effect on the congressional budget 10-year window could be minimal. That?s because changes to these programs take time and need to be phased in slowly.
AMY GOODMAN: That?s House Speaker Boehner, who has also just revived the debt ceiling?the debt ceiling threat.
PAUL KRUGMAN: Yeah, so?boy, again, let?s leave aside the long-run budget stuff for the moment, and let?s just talk about?the idea that stimulus failed, it was never tried. Take a look at the actual track of government spending in the United States, and take into account the state and local governments as well as the federal, and what you see is, far from actually having a big increase in spending, we?ve actually had much lower. We?ve had austerity in the face of a recession, in a way that we have never had before since the 1930s. So it?s actually been the reverse.
And look, we?ve just done an experiment with what happens if you cut government spending sharply in the face of a depressed economy. That?s what?s been going on in Europe. It?s been going on in an extreme form. I?ve been saying, actually, we?ve basically had a large-scale human experiment, the kind that is banned under Princeton University rules, going on on the people of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. And the results are clear: it?s disastrous. It leads to very, very sharp economic contractions. Here, we?re having a minor version, though still terrible, of the Great Depression; there, they?re having a full-on replay of the Great Depression.
AMY GOODMAN: Contrast it with Argentina.
PAUL KRUGMAN: Ah, Argentina is an interesting story, because they broke all the rules. There are two countries that we talk about now, actually, people like me. One is Argentina. Argentina had something that was a little bit like the euro. They had a supposedly permanent commitment: one peso, one dollar. Became impossible, fell apart. There was a period of about six months of economic chaos, following, to be honest, then a rapid recovery. Argentina bounced back strongly because they were competitive again. The weaker peso made them able to export. You know, and they defied all the predictions of ruin.
The other story, which is more contemporary, is Iceland, which, in effect, did the same thing. Iceland, because of?the funny thing is, Iceland, the sheer scale of the financial disaster meant that they could not be orthodox. It was not possible. So they were forced to allow a devaluation, have some temporary controls on capital, repudiate some of the debt their bankers ran up. Iceland has a lower unemployment rate than we do right now. So, those are the stories that we should be looking to as examples that say this does not have to be happening.
AMY GOODMAN: So, right now, President Krugman?and that?s not making a mistake?what do you do starting today?
PAUL KRUGMAN: So, the question, of course, is what do I have in the way of Congress, right? So, the?so I?m actually?at this point, I have a lot of?
AMY GOODMAN: Dennis Kucinich is not going to be running again.
PAUL KRUGMAN: Right, no, that?s a?I mean, I have a lot of criticisms. I was tearing my hair out during the first year of the Obama administration, because I thought they were?you know, they had to act much more strongly than they did. But that?s water under the bridge. Right now, the reality is, I think that President Obama gets a lot of this. Maybe not all of it, he gets a lot of it. But he has limited room for maneuver because of a hostile Congress.
If we didn?t have that, first thing to do is a big slug of aid to state and local governments, so they can rehire those schoolteachers, get back to repairing the roads. Right there, you have?by my rough math, you have enough to get the unemployment rate down to something like six-and-a-half percent. So get it for?you know, right there, you can get us to a dramatically better economic situation. Mortgage debt relief. Federal Reserve can do more stuff. We could end this. We could be out of depression territory. We could be, if not?something that would feel much more like full employment in 18 months to two years. It could be over faster than you believe. So it?s actually?the economics are really simple. This would be almost amazingly easy. Of course, the politics are very difficult, but that?s a different story.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me talk about the JOBS Act for a second. I want to ask you your thoughts on this legislation, but first I want to go to President Obama speaking the day he signed the bill.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And for startups and small businesses, this bill is a potential game changer. Right now you can only turn to a limited group of investors, including banks and wealthy individuals, to get funding. Laws that are nearly eight decades old make it impossible for others to invest. But a lot?s changed in 80 years. And it?s time our laws did, as well. Because of this bill, startups and small business will now have access to a big new pool of potential investors?namely, the American people. For the first time, ordinary Americans will be able to go online and invest in entrepreneurs that they believe in.
AMY GOODMAN: Paul Krugman, your response?
PAUL KRUGMAN: I mean, people who have studied it carefully that I trust say this is actually a really bad bill. It?s creating loopholes. It?s just not doing anything productive. And there?s this fetishism of small businesses, the idea?the idea that the problem with our economy right now is that people can?t afford to do startups. That?s not the problem. The problem with our economy right now is that there?s not enough demand from consumers, from the government, to make it worth expanding. So this is?this is all a great diversion, probably a bad bill just in and of itself. But the main point is, this has nothing to do with the real problem. I?m willing to cut the President some slack. I think he has to?he has to assuage people?s prejudices a little bit, although I wish he would be a bit more forthright about what the real problems are. But this is not it.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the title of your book, End This Depression Now!, which, of course, I think is psychological as well as economic, the play on that? And you dedicate your book to the unemployed, you say, who deserve better. How many unemployed there are, what are the real numbers, how are we in this mess?
PAUL KRUGMAN: OK. I?m tempted to get way too wonkish here, so let?s try not to. So there?s 13 million official unemployed. That number is both too low and too high. Some of the people?we always have some unemployment. There?s always some thrashing. So, even if things were much better, we would probably have five or six million, at least, people who would be counted as unemployed. On the other hand, there?s a large number of people who?you?re only counted as unemployed if you?re actively looking for work. There?s lots of people who are not, because they know there?s no work to be found. There?s lots of people who are involuntarily working part-time. There?s lots of people who are working in jobs that are?don?t make any use of their skills. There?s an awful lot of college students with huge burdens of debt, and they?re working as baristas, because that?s all they can find. So, probably the real number?something like a third of the American population either are themselves, or someone close to them is suffering from this economy in a very direct way. So, it?s a huge number.
The things that really get me are that we have almost four million people who have been out of work for more than a year. That?s completely?you have to go back to the 1930s to find anything like that. That?s destroy?that destroys lives. That destroys families. That destroys people?s long-run prospects for ever getting back to work. We have an incredible drop in employment among recent graduates. That?s the thing?so those?the exact number doesn?t really?you know, we can argue?it doesn?t matter. The point is, this is horrific. This is an ongoing human disaster, it?s an ongoing economic disaster, and it?s crippling our future. It?s not just short-run pain. So this is?and that?s one of the reasons I use the word "depression," because this really is that bad.
AMY GOODMAN: You also talk, Paul Krugman, about even when unemployment goes down, that unemployment benefits are really going down.
PAUL KRUGMAN: That?s right. We?ve been?people have been dropping off. We had extended unemployment benefits, which were created, as they should be, during a period of a severe economic downturn. But those have been cut back way faster. I mean, the unemployment benefits were extended because we realized that there were going to be a lot of people experiencing longer-than-normal spells of unemployment. Those are being cut back rapidly, but the long-term unemployment has not come down hardly at all. You know, it?s fallen from four million to 3.9 million people who have been out of work for more than a year. So, this is just cruelty. And it also depresses the economy, because it?s taking money out of the hands of people who would spend it. So, it?s amazing to me how quickly our political system has turned towards blaming the victims of this depression.
AMY GOODMAN: Paul Krugman, questions are coming in Facebook and Twitter in droves. We asked listeners and viewers to send these questions to you. Kristen Franks has just written this on Twitter: "Mr Krugman can you please explain sub-prime economics and how compounding interest is legal when dealing with student loan debt agency."
PAUL KRUGMAN: Oof. No, I mean?I mean, compound?all right, interest will compound. The problem is not?this is going to happen with any kind of loan. The problem is that?two things. One is that the student loan game has been a disaster. It?s been a?we?ve privatized what is basically a public function. We have basically public?taxpayers? money on the line in the form of guarantees, but we?ve run it through private sector middlemen for no reason. So it?s been way more expensive than it should be. And in any case, we should be providing adequate aid so that a college education is affordable for any student with the aptitude, whatever his or her social class. That?s what we used to do, mostly. We used to have good public universities that were affordable, but the aid has been cut back so much that they no longer are. We are now getting pretty much unique among advanced countries in being a place where a college education is only something that?s available if you come from the right class. So that?s the issue, not the details of the student loan.
AMY GOODMAN: OK. Elizabeth Bishop has just tweeted with this question: quote, "How has Occupy shifted public consciousness?"
PAUL KRUGMAN: I think Occupy did a great service, because I?obviously, I?m in the midst of this all the time. I?m tracking the pulse of the debate way too much. And in the?last summer, it was all deficits, debt. There was all?the whole thing, if you like?Pete Peterson was defining the whole terms of the debate, right? And then this scruffy group of people set up camp in Zuccotti Park and other places around the country, and somehow that changed. Everybody said, "Hey, you know, inequality, injustice, the failure to deliver employment, those are?those are the immediate problems. You know, those are the things we should be talking about." It didn?t change everything, obviously, but it had a tremendous?it was like somebody?it was basically "the emperor was wearing no clothes" moment on our economic debate. I thought it was enormously productive.
Paul Krugman says hi to Crooks and Liars readers!
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Yesterday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives narrowly passed a watered-down Violence Against Women Act — by 222 to 205 margin. The bill not only stripped important provisions from the Senate version but also included provisions that may put women in greater safety risk. For this and other reasons, 23 Republicans voted against the bill along with 199 Democrats.
Just six Democrats voted for the weak tea House Republican version of the bill. Five — Reps. John Barrow (D-GA), David Boren (D-OK), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), and Colin Peterson (D-MN) — are members of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition. But the biggest surprise was a yes vote from Rep. Shelely Berkley (D-NV).
Berkley, who is running for Senate this year, has previously been a strong voice for women’s health and safety. On April 26, she tweeted that she was proud those in the Senate “who helped pass the Violence Against Women Act.”
A Berkley spokesman forwarded a statement from the Congresswoman, explaining her vote:
It?s sad that on an issue as important as domestic violence prevention, Washington Republicans have refused to allow a vote on the full Violence Against Women Act passed by the Senate with a bipartisan majority. The fact that a full debate on this issue is not allowed illustrates exactly what is wrong with politics in Washington. However, while today?s legislation is far from perfect, it is better than not having any version of the Violence Against Women Act at all.
Additionally, in a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), she lamented that while she strongly supports the Senate version, because the the majority did not allow a vote on that stronger version, she was “forced to choose between a deeply flawed version of the Violence Against Women Act or nothing at all.”
While her frustration with the Republican majority’s obstruction of a real Violence Against Women Act re-authorization is understandable, the version she voted for was so deeply flawed that many of her colleagues — including even some in the GOP — determined that the Republican version was not necessarily better than nothing at all.
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) unsuccessfully tried to amend the bill, via a “motion to recommit,” warning that the Republican?s bill violates the confidentiality a victim is entitled to by telling her abuser that she called the cops.
Additionally, the House version stripped out much-needed protections protecting same-sex couples, immigrants, and Native Americans against domestic violence. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), who voted against the bill, argued that the bill needs House GOP-removed provisions “that would clarify equal treatment for LGBT individuals, bolster enforcement on Native American reservations, and ensure that victims aren’t deported simply for reporting domestic abuse.” Biggert explained her opposition, saying “We don’t need a perfect bill. We need a bill that can provide a solid foundation on which to begin conference negotiations with the Senate. H.R. 4970 fails on this count.”
In late 2008, as the nation’s entire financial system stood on the verge of collapse, Democrats and Republicans came together to pass the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. President George W. Bush signed the bill, bailing out Wall Street banks who were up to their metaphorical noses in toxic assets. Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE), then a private citizen and college president, told Politico at the time that, contrary to 2008 presidential GOP nominee Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) earlier fears, the government intervention had been initially successful.
Now a secret-money outside spending group tied to Karl Rove, the man perhaps most responsible for the Bush presidency, is running a new attack suggesting that Kerrey had somehow acted inappropriately because he expressed his opinion.
War hero Bob Kerrey, after retiring from the Senate in 2001, is running to reclaim his old seat this November. The “issue advocacy” ad, titled “Disturbing,” says:
Bob Kerrey supported the Wall Street bailout while serving on the board of a company that tried to exploit it. Kerrey’s company tried a bureaucratic ploy to get bailout funds, but the ploy failed. These schemes were called a “disturbing trend” by an independent watchdog, violating the spirit fo the law to jump on the gravy train. For Bailout Bob Kerrey, it’s Wall Street ways, not Nebraska values. Tell him, support balanced budgets, not bailouts.
Watch the spot:
Nearly everything in this ad is disingenuous. The ad strongly implies that Kerrey had had something to do with the enactment of TARP. He was not a senator at the time, nor a lobbyist. The ad’s only citation for the argument is the 2008 Politico article in which Kerrey spoke positively about the bailout after the fact.
The insurance company mentioned in the ad — Genworth — was one that Kerrey advised, but did not control. It allegedly tried to buy a struggling bank to qualify for bailout funds — a move that even the watchdog concedes was totally legal. The group cited in the ad — the Project On Government Oversight — wrote to Congress: “We do not accuse these companies of wrongdoing in acquiring other financial institutions.”
If the secret funders behind Crossroads GPS bothered to look at the record, when Kerrey left the Senate in 2000, the budget was indeed balanced. Kerrey was the deciding vote in the Senate in 1993 for President Clinton’s budget reconciliation act, which set the nation on the path of deficit reduction (his yes vote, combined with the vice president’s, allowed Democrats to pass the bill without a single Republican supporter). In fact, he left a roughly $236 billion dollar surplus.
It was “Bailout Bush” and “Bailout Rove” who turned that the budget surplus into a $1.2 trillion deficit. What is “disturbing” is that Crossroads GPS is using money from undisclosed donors to run ads aimed at misleading voters.
This may come as a big surprise: The U.S. commercial construction sector is facing a shortage of skilled workers.
After a period of steep decline in commercial construction stemming from the 2008 financial crisis — forcing mass layoffs throughout the industry — that seems like an absurd notion. But activity is picking back up.
By 2015, non-residential construction is projected to grow 73 percent compared to 2011, increasing demand for skilled workers.
With nearly half of all nonresidential activity by 2015 set to be “green,” workers with experience in energy efficiency, water efficiency, responsible site management, air quality, and green building certification will be the highest in demand. That’s according to a survey of industry companies conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction.
The boom in the green building space is good news. But will there be enough people to fulfill market needs?
The McGraw-Hill survey shows that companies fear a shortage of potential employees with in-demand skills over the coming years. The shortage will be caused by three main factors: A wave of retiring baby boomers; a decline in workers with experience due to mass layoffs after the recession; and a thinning pipeline of students.
More than 85 percent of engineering & design firms, and more than 90 percent of general contractors say it will be difficult to find skilled employees to meet the boom in demand for green projects. In October, McGraw-Hill reported that 35 percent of workers have green jobs in the sector; by 2014, 45 percent will have green jobs.
In order to find employees with new skills, meet demand for greener buildings, and make their businesses more competitive, McGraw-Hill urges companies to start building a plan immediately:
If an organization does not already have a green strategy, it needs to develop one. With green projects and green jobs already accounting for one third of the market and still growing, in order to stay competitive, all involved in the industry need to their approach to green, including finding green skilled workers, capitalizing on existing green enterprise and their internal green experts and emphasizing additional green training.
The companies surveyed agreed. According to McGraw-Hill, 71 percent of firms say having certified/accredited employees help increase competitiveness; 68 percent say having green certified employees will help them expand business.
In January, the Obama Administration came under fire because green jobs training programs supported by the stimulus were not placing workers at expected rates. Those criticisms were based upon a flawed report from the Inspector General that didn’t take into account “incumbent” workers or people currently in training programs.
Those problems aside, many of the worker placement programs didn’t ramp up like many supporters hoped. But this industry survey shows why a commitment to green workforce training is so important.
Senate Republican hawk Lindsey Graham (SC) said on Fox News last night that the U.S. shouldn’t negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program until it accedes to all U.S. demands and gives up its nuclear program entirely. The remark comes after a week where Congress considered a flurry of hawkish legislation and resolutions about Iran ahead of the next round of nuclear talks next week in Baghdad.
Graham offered his curious take on what it means to negotiate — demanding that Iran accept all U.S. demands prior to negotiation — in a conversation with Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, who indicated that his negotiating tactic was probably a non starter. Graham first emphasized his hawkish bent by noting that the “only way” for an agreement to be reached between the sides was for the U.S. to threaten “a strike by the United States.” He went on:
GRAHAM: Here’s what we should do. We should tell the Iranians, no negotiations, stop enriching, open up the site on the bottom of the mountain, a secret site. Then we will talk about lifting sanctions. You are not going to get to enrich uranium any more, period.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think they will probably stay “go fish” on that one.
Watch the video:
Leave aside that the Fordow site is not “secret” (it’s under U.N. inspections and monitored by camera) and that reports on U.S. and Israeli estimates state that these intelligence agencies don’t believe Iran has made a decision to build nuclear weapons (Graham doubts the intelligence), Graham’s position prompts one to ask: What’s the alternative to negotiations, since Graham is proposing pre-conditions that Iran would never meet? The Senator from South Carolina’s been busy on that front, too — and falsely citing the Obama administration to back himself up. The House yesterday passed a resolution that seeks to shift U.S. “red line” for an attack to an Iranian “nuclear capability” — something Graham mentioned on Fox News — from an Iranian push for nuclear weapons.
While the CIA has laid out a specific definition, the “nuclear capability” language is a complex issue. The word “capability” has a special meaning in the non-proliferation context, but it’s not always clear exactly what. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), one of the Sentae’s most vociferous Iran hawks, said this year, ?I guess everybody will determine for themselves what that means.?
Before the House version passed, co-sponsor Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) clarified what he meant by “capability,” defining it as Iran mastering all elements of a weapon and kicking out U.N. inspectors. (The move allayed the fears of some critics that the measure could be interpreted as taking Graham’s hard-line on “no enrichment.”) House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) forthrightly noted that the “capability” language was a shift in U.S. policy that stood in contrast to “decision to develop nuclear weapons.” But Graham was most circumspect in defending his version of the bill on the Senate floor yesterday, conflating “capability” with the Obama administration red line of “weaponization.”
But Graham is wrong that blocking an Iranian nuclear “capability” is, as he said, an “echo (of) a policy statement made by President Obama.” In March, Obama committed (again) to “preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” and that it was “unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon” — not a “capability.” He added, “I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Earlier this year, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said: “The United States… does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us.”
While a potential Iranian nuclear weapon is widely considered a threat to both the security of the U.S. and its allies in the region, as well as the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The intelligence estimates give the West time to pursue a dual-track approach of pressure and diplomacy to resolve the crisis. Questions about the efficacy and consequences of a strike have led U.S. officials to declare that diplomacy is the ?best and most permanent way? to resolve the crisis.
France’s new prime minister, socialist François Hollande, is wasting no time advancing LGBT equality. His office issued a communiqué yesterday recognizing the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and committing to full marriage equality and same-sex adoption rights:
On the occasion of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, the Prime Minister reaffirmed the Government?s commitment against violence and discrimination perpetrated as a result of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Government is determined to challenge prejudice and to put an end to discrimination and violence. It will implement the commitment of the President of the Republic to the right to marriage and adoption to gay couples.
Reuters’ Chrystia Freelend today rounded up the economic evidence that equal rights, including equal pay for women and laws against discrimination, help boost the overall economy. One study by four economists even found that expanding opportunities for women and African Americans over the last 50 years has offered a serious boost to U.S. productivity growth:
Fairness, they contend, has made the economy more productive. Chang-Tai Hsieh, Erik Hurst, Charles Jones and Peter Klenow argue that as much as 20 percent of the growth in productivity in the United States over the past 50 years can be attributed to expanded opportunities for women and blacks.
?Changes in things that have affected women or blacks specifically have yielded a sizable impact on overall U.S. earnings growth,? Hurst told me. ?That is a big effect.?
Of course, the U.S. still has a long way to go in terms of equality, but the evidence suggests that more equality would be economically beneficial to everyone.
In a paper released yesterday, Center for American Progress economists Heather Boushey and Adam Hersh laid out the economic case for reducing income inequality, noting that a strong middle class is a necessary component of economic growth. In the last 30 years, however, the middle class has been eroding, as the richest Americans take a larger and larger share of the national income, hurting not only economic growth but economic mobility.
In the last two months, sixteen companies and other institutional supporters of the American Legislative Exchange Council announced that they would part ways with the organization — likely costing the conservative group hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual funding. Similarly, several dozen lawmakers broke ties with ALEC due to a progressive campaign highlighting the organization’s harmful impact on state lawmaking. ALEC drafts and promotes “model” conservative legislation, including bills disenfranchising thousands of student, low-income and minority voters, and the so-called “stand your ground” laws that may shield Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman from justice.
Today, eleven more state lawmakers announced that they would no longer associate with ALEC. According to an email from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the ex-ALEC lawmakers are:
All eleven of these lawmakers are Democrats. In total, 39 Democratic lawmakers have dropped ALEC.
The campaign against ALEC already pressured the conservative group to eliminate its Public Safety and Elections task force, which was responsible for both voter suppression and many gun-related laws. Nevertheless, the group redoubled its focus on bills sacrificing the environment and the middle class in order to funnel even more wealth to the very wealthy. A short list of ALEC-sponsored initiatives includes state union-busting measures, bills repealing minimum wage laws, attempts to privatize public lands, bills to repeal capital gains taxes and estate taxes, fighting any efforts to address manmade climate change while touting “the many benefits of atmospheric CO2 enrichment,” repealing paid sick day laws, requiring a super-majority to raise taxes and pushing rules deeming that kids eating rat poison is an “acceptable risk.”