In this week’s PSN research roundup: A Democracy Corps poll and memo on how to talk about the economy with the Rising American Electorate, a National Foundation for Women Legislators and National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women study on how broadband policy can help alleviate women’s disproportionate burdens, an analysis by USPIRG on corporate tax avoidance, a scorecard by Rock The Vote ranking voting laws as they affect young people in all 50 states, and a Drum Major I
Several states have seen lawmakers take a cynical and economically-damaging approach to revenue shortfalls by slashing unemployment insurance (UI) for those hit hardest by the downturn. Driven by flawed right-wing ideology, Florida legislators recently approved an extreme measure that not only undermines the economic security of Floridians, but also threatens recovery in a state that is already deeply affected by the lasting impacts of the recession and currently has an unemployment rate that is hovering around 11 percent, the third highest in the nation.
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.
This session, right-wing officials have been peddling costly, inefficient, and socially damaging prison privatization schemes. Several states, including Louisiana, Florida, and Ohio, have considered proposals to hand over the operation and management of prisons to private entities.
At the end of March, the New York Times published an explosive story finding that General Electric (G.E.), the nation's largest company which reported $5.1 billion in profit last year from operations in the U.S., would not pay a dime in federal taxes. Similarly, ExxonMobil posted profits exceeding $45 billion last year, but as a result of aggressive tax avoidance strategies, paid no federal income tax in 2009. Almost as shockingly, in a 2008 report, the Government Accountability Office discovered that two out of every three U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005.
Several elected officials across the states have approached budget shortfalls with extremely short-sighted and economically damaging proposals, including lavish tax breaks for corporations, slashing unemployment benefits, heinous cuts to programs that primarily benefit middle class and working families, eliminating earned income tax credit (EITC) programs, and privatizing services and institutions across the board, such as mental health services, prisons, and infrastructure. These types of policies will only serve to worsen fiscal pressures, exacerbate the economic pain of the middle class, increase inequality, and heighten the current regressivity of state tax structures, which, on average, place a heavier burden on low and middle-income earners than the rich. This is demonstrative of a disturbing and pervasive recent trend: tax breaks for the affluent and corporations, and austerity for the rest.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been hailed by some as a bold leader,
but the priorities expressed in his first budget, approved this week by the legislature, indicate that he is following the right-wing's
slash-and-burn policies and adhering to economically flawed and discounted