To the embarassment of a country with leaders that bill themselves as
supporting "family values," a new report by the
Project on Global Working Families finds that US federal policies are some
of the least supportive of families in the world.
In a breaking story today, the Wall
Street Journal ($) reports that Wal-Mart has been setting up shell companies
to purchase property through a REIT investment vehicle, then renting those
buildings to Wal-Mart stores-- allowing the company to deduct the cost of the
rent from state taxes in twenty-five states.
In President Bush's speech on Tuesday, he made a grand pledge to "help
the states that are coming up with innovative ways to cover the
uninsured." Yet even as he was hailing the innovative role of states in
health care, Bush was proposing new federal laws -- the promotion of so-called Association Health Plans
(AHPs) -- that would further limit state powers to regulate the health
insurance industry. As the bipartisan leadership of the National
Governors Association made in a 2005 letter to the US Senate:
Too often, we hear the simplistic rhetoric that all states have to do
to promote jobs and improve the "business environment" is cut taxes and
gut business regulations. Luckily, we have an alternative: CFED's
annual Development Report Card for the States,
which actually highlights the whole variety of tools used by states to
invest in the long-term economic strength of their states: skilled
workforces, entrepreneurs, high standards of living, technology
development, existing businesses, world class infrastructure, and
excellent public services.
As states look to expand education funding and provide health care for
their citizens-- along with paying for other social needs-- the hardest
challenge is figuring out what taxes need to be raised to accomplish
This year's Quality Counts report from Education Week
has broadened its traditional focus on K-12 education to examine what
states are doing in early education to prepare students for public
school -- and how K-12 education is helping students prepare for
college and the workforce. The report finds that there is an upswell of
state activity in early education efforts, but less success in aligning
high school graduation requirements with college- and
workforce-readiness standards. Highlights and rankings for each state
are detailed here.
When an impeccably pro-business outfit like Business Week declares victory for the business lobby in shutting the courtroom door to victims of corporate negligence, you know injured consumers and workers have been losing badly. But this week's cover story, How Business Trounced The Trial Lawyers, illustrates how the corporate right leveraged campaign contributions in the last decade to hijack state policy on civil justice.
Union workers voting for progressives isn't news. Even as Democrats
have lost white, working class voters over the years, union members and
their households have voted reliably Democratic. But 2006 was still a
banner year in terms of turnout and the sheer margin by which union
members voted for Democrats. According to the AFL-CIO, union members
voted for union-endorsed candidates by a margin of three-to-one -- an absolutely huge measure.
Even more than simply marking the end of one-party rule in Washington,
last Tuesday's elections indicated what may be the beginning of
long-term progressive strength: a strength fueled, in part, by
increasing strength among Latinos and young voters, as well as huge
turnout from American workers, who voted for change.