The conservative wing of the U.S. Supreme Court has again preempted state laws designed to protect American consumers. In yet another ruling that favors large corporations at the expense of working-class families, the Supreme Court held last week that state laws cannot override “unfair” arbitration provisions. The decision, AT&T v. Concepcion, will have devastating implications for millions of consumers because it unilaterally favors clauses imposed by corporations where consumers do not have a say. Described as the “biggest ever” ruling on class action suits, is another blow to people who want to collectively address a problem, and to states who want to find a fruitful way of addressing issues that are potentially unfair to the average consumer.
This past week, the Connecticut Legislature took a solid step towards fiscal stability by approving a $40.1 billion budget that includes progressive measures. Despite several elected officials across the states opting to rely predominantly on cuts and failing to either invest in communities or support the middle class, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy's insistence on "shared sacrifice" has stood in bold contrast to flawed right-wing budget policies.
As voter ID legislation continues to be rammed through state legislatures across the country, conservatives are celebrating passage of these bills, intended to suppress turnout among traditionally progressive constituencies, as a victory. However, no one is actually winning – not minority, low-income, and other historically disenfranchised voters who will be disproportionately affected by the new laws, and certainly not already-squeezed state budgets forced to find millions of dollars to make these bills a reality
Tax Shell Game: How Much Did Offshore Tax Havens Cost You In 2010? – In this analysis, U.S. PIRG assesses the economic and fiscal loss states and the nation as a whole experience as a result of offshore corporate tax havens. For instance, they find that the U.S. loses almost $100 billion in tax revenue annually as a result of corporations and individuals sending their money to offshore havens. The report additionally quantifies the additional tax burden each state and average families must take on as a result of large businesses and the rich dodging taxes. The authors conclude, “closing loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying their share of taxes would increase federal revenues and improve the fairness of the tax system. Markets work best when companies prosper based on their productivity and ability to innovate, not on their access to sophisticated tax lawyers and tax-avoidance schemes...there should not be a parallel shadow system of tax avoidance that leaves other taxpayers shouldering the burden.”
Putting Maine Money to Work for Maine – In this report, DEMOS and Opportunity Maine analyzes the potential economic benefits of a Maine state partnership bank, finding that large out-of-state banks are not serving the interests of the state or the public. The authors conclude, “Maine can put deposits of state tax revenue to use in ways that tilt the economic playing field back toward Main Street businesses, our community banks, and long-term job growth. A Maine Street Economic Development Bank—like the successful Bank of North Dakota—will generate new revenue for Maine, save local governments money, and make our small businesses, farms and consumers less vulnerable to cutbacks in lending in our state.”
The economic—and other—benefits of regulations – The Economic Policy Institute is undertaking in-depth analyses of the country’s regulatory system. Isaac Shapiro, who directs Regulatory Policy Research at EPI, commented, “the current Congress essentially has amnesia about recent history. In the past few years, the movement to deregulate contributed to the development of a financial crisis that led to the loss of 8 million jobs, lax regulation substantially increased the likelihood of something like the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster occurring, and the dangers of a weak FDA were underscored by significant incidences of tainted food...In these cases, the lack of regulation undermined the economy and particular industries. The potentially positive role that strong regulations can play in stimulating economic growth and a well-functioning economic system should also be considered.” In this brief, EPI outlines its new regulatory research program.
Heading South: U.S.-Mexico trade and job displacement after NAFTA - As the Obama administration prepares to push through three new free trade agreements in the coming weeks, EPI put out this timely report calculating the number of jobs lost due to the trade agreement on which they are modeled: the North America Free Trade Agreement. EPI estimates that NAFTA has resulted in a net loss 682,900 jobs since it went into effect in 1994. The report includes figures on jobs lost by state and congressional district.
The class of 2011: Young workers face a dire labor market without a safety net - One of the longest-lasting impacts of the Great Recession is likely to be on today’s high school and college graduates. This paper by EPI reports that unemployment rates for workers ages 16-24 is 18.6%, more than double the national average. The situation is worst for young high school grads (22.5%) and Black and Latino college grads (19.0% and 13.8%, respectively). The massive job losses and slow recovery are preventing this generation from developing the necessary work skills and experience for upwardly mobile career paths.
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Progressive States Network works to build a network of progressive legislators, grassroots advocates, progressive policy institutions, unions and community groups to move progressive policy and transform the political debate across the fifty states."