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Research Roundup: Viable Revenue Options, Voting Rights Under Attack, Measuring Immigration Enforcement Policies and More

PSN's Research Roundup for April 14, 2011:

The People’s Budget – This progressive alternative to the conservative cut- and tax-break filled budget moving through the House of Representatives was released by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The People’s Budget would eliminate deficits and create a surplus by 2021 through an extensive jobs program, addressing the historic levels of income inequality, ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and protecting the social safety net.

The First Step: A Progressive Plan for Meaningful Deficit Reduction – This report by the Center for American Progress offers a menu of options for addressing the long term federal budget deficit that promise to generate $255 billion in new revenue. These include implementing a surtax on income for those making more than $500,000 per year; imposing a $10 per barrel fee on imported oil, returning the estate tax to pre-Bush tax cut levels, removing the cap on the employer side of the Social Security tax, indexing the entire tax code to a better measure of inflation, increasing the top rate on capital gains and dividends, and increasing income tax rates on tax brackets between $140,000 and $380,000.

First-Time Voters in the 2008 Election - In a new research memo from Project Vote, author Lori Minnite examines changes in the composition and preferences of new voters from 2004 to 2008. Minnite finds not only a significant increase in black and Latino first-time voters over 2004, but a major shift along class lines as well. According to the memo, “First-time voting among the lowest income group, those with annual family income of $15,000 a year or less, nearly doubled in proportion among all voters in this income category, from 18 percent in 2004, to 34 percent in 2008.”

What’s Wrong With This Picture? New Photo ID Proposals Part of a National Push to Turn Back the Clock on Voting Rights - The Advancement Project released this report last week analyzing voter ID proposals that have been introduced in the states this year, as well as how such initiatives fit in with broader voter suppression efforts targeted toward minority and other vulnerable populations - the report finds that voter ID bills are part of the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights since Reconstruction. The comprehensive report includes disenfranchisement statistics, research on the infrequency of voter fraud, fiscal analysis, and other resources.

Unnecessary Austerity, Unnecessary Shutdown – The Institute for Policy Studies released this policy brief that examines the growing levels of income inequality in the country as well as the decline in corporate tax liability. The authors find, “we have indeed become wealthier than ever. But our wealth has become incredibly more concentrated at our economic summit. U.S. income is cascading disproportionately to the top...we are taxing the dollars that go to our ever-richer rich at levels far below the tax rates that America levied just a few decades ago. We have, in effect, shifted our tax burden off the shoulders of those most able to bear it and away from those who disproportionately benefit from government investments the most.”

Protecting Core Services – The Oklahoma Policy Institute highlights several progressive revenue options, including limiting itemized deductions and enacting combined reporting, that state lawmakers should consider in order to protect vital services and public structures in anticipation of upcoming shortfalls.

Direct Job Loss from cuts in the Kasich ‘Jobs Budget’Innovation Ohio recently published this report, estimating that the severe cuts to K-12 education, higher education, state personnel, and local governments in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposals will result in the loss of 51,052 jobs. The authors conclude, “the Kasich ‘Job Budgets’ will reverse the job growth that Ohio has experienced, potentially take Ohio back to June 2010 levels of unemployment, and jeopardize the state’s still-fragile economic recovery.”

The Cost of Failure: The Burden of Immigration Enforcement in America's Cities – The Drum Major Institute just released a new report exploring the fiscal, administrative, public safety and civic costs that cities incur as they assume increased responsibility for immigration enforcement. The report finds that while the vast majority of Americans believe that the nation’s immigration system needs to be reformed, the current laws are being enforced more rigorously than ever – and fiscally strapped cities are bearing too much of the cost.

Second Annual DHS Progress Report – The Immigration Policy Center recently released their second annual review of the Department of Homeland Security, evaluating whether the promises of 2009 were met and examining new problems and solutions that have arisen in immigration enforcement and implementation.

Scholars’ Roundtable: the Effects of Expanding Broadband to Rural Areas - This paper by the Center for Rural Strategies is a representation of a forum conversation that occurred in December and January of 2009-2010, where leading experts responded to questions regarding broadband investment in the United States, especially with respect to rural regions. Panelists agreed that more investment in broadband deployment in rural regions is needed in order to increase competition and shift prices down. The paper also emphasizes that we must go beyond looking at simple short-term job impacts to widen opportunities in rural America. When it comes to broadband, we cannot think of it solely as a job creator since that value oversimplifies the developmental impact of the introduction of a new technology capability. Access, adoption, and utilization of broadband in rural communities requires multiple strategies: connecting libraries, schools, and hospitals, making broadband affordable by allowing alternative providers like local governments and non-profits to deploy broadband, and driving demand also by instituting digital literacy.