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September 14, 2011

THE MIDWEEK ROUNDUP

The top five posts from the Progressive Policy Institute

Wingnut Watch: The Rise of Fearless Republicans - Ed Kilgore

There are still some observers in Washington who believe congressional Republicans will be forced by President Obama’s jobs speech and proposal to cooperate with Democrats on some sort of emergency economic legislation. But that’s not the perception, and certainly is not the inclination, of the citizens of Wingnut World, who greeted the president’s speech with a combo platter of ideological hostility and mocking indifference.

Almost universally, conservative opinion-leaders insist on calling the proposal a “stimulus” rather than a “jobs” bill. Given their equally universal claim that the 2009 economic stimulus legislation did not create any real jobs (viz. Rick Perry’s claim during the Florida candidates’ debate), this indicates its dead-on-arrival nature among conservative leaders and probably the House. Once the White House made it clear it proposed to “pay” for the jobs proposal with measures that include a limitation on itemized tax deductions by high earners, conservative condemnation solidified even more. Read More...

Policy Brief: Another Kick in the Teeth: Loan Limits and the Housing Market - Jason Gold and Anne Kim

For weeks, August 2—the date on which the U.S. Treasury might have defaulted on its debts—was the deadline that drove policymakers toward a deal on raising the debt ceiling and lowering the nation’s spiraling debt and deficits.

Another pending deadline—October 1—has won far less attention. But it too could have far-reaching impacts on the U.S. economy if Congress allows it to expire. Read more…

Do It Yourself: Creating a Producer Society - Dane Stangler

Last month, PPI released a provocative policy brief by Will Marshall, “Labor and the Producer Society,” which argued that the Great Recession and stalled economic recovery mean, “there can be no going back to the old economic model of debt-fueled consumption.” In this, Will is precisely correct. Even as median American income failed to rise over the past two decades, consumption surged because households piled up credit card debt or tapped their home equity. The massive debt deleveraging that typically follows financial crises still has some ways to go, which means that consumption cannot be counted upon to drive economic growth.  Read more…

Policy Brief: The Digital Teachers Corps: Closing America’s Literacy Gap - Michael Levine and James Paul Gee

Almost 30 years after the landmark study A Nation at Risk, and the subsequent hundreds of billions spent trying to ramp-up children’s mastery of basic skills through Head Start, Title 1 and No Child Left Behind, American school performance is stuck in wet cement. In the United States today, the majority of low-income children and a shocking one-third of their more affluent peers are behind when it comes to one key predictor of future achievement: fourth grade reading. Only 14 percent of African-American and 17 percent of Hispanic children are deemed “proficient” readers in fourth grade as judged by the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores.

Why is fourth grade so important? Because if children are not well on their way toward being confident readers by the age of 10, they will fall progressively behind in learning complex academic content. Researchers have found a nearly 80 percent correlation between being two years behind in reading at the 4th grade mark and dropping out of high school later. Read more…

No Worker Left Behind- Olivia Marshall

As President Obama puts the finishing touches on his jobs package, let’s hope it includes a helping hand for Americans on the lowest rungs of the job ladder – those struggling to make the transition from welfare to work.

President Clinton’s landmark 1996 welfare reform ended the old entitlement to public assistance, limiting the time people can remain on the rolls. That law reconceived welfare as a way station to jobs and self-sufficiency. Strongly reinforced by a booming economy, tight labor markets and expanded subsidies for low-wage work, the new policy sparked a dramatic exodus from the welfare rolls. Read more…


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