Economic crisis, Helping the working poor, Helping ex-prisoners and the children of the incarcerated, Health care reform strateg

The economic crisis is severe and getting worse, as these policy reports highlight:

  • Economic Snapshot for October 2008- The Center for American Progress presents analysis and graphs highlighting the economic crisis, from how businesses can't finance investment to rising costs for homeowners on loans to mounting jobs losses to the longer-term trend of families losing health care coverage and lost jobs to the trade deficit. They have a related video explaining the effect of the financial crisis on American's retirement income and a better way to build retirement plans.
  • Underemployed Workers- When you include workers forced into involuntary part-time work and workers who want a job but not actively looking to those officially unemployed, this snapshot by the Economic Policy Institute shows an 11% underemployment rate, or over 17 million people underemployed in September 2008, the highest in more than 14 years.
  • The burden of outsourcing: U.S. non-oil trade deficit costs more than 5 million jobs-  Even before the financial crisis hit, states across the country have been losing jobs to the trade deficit, as detailed in this report by the Economic Policy Institute.
  • How Is the Economic Turmoil Affecting Older Americans?- the Urban Institute examines the impact of the crisis on the retirement savings, home values and retirement decisions of older Americans.

Helping the Working Poor: A number of reports suggest policy reforms to help poor children and low-income families succeed:

  • Bridging the Gap: Reshaping Poverty Policy in America- The Neighborhood Funders Group compiles six essays detailing potential strategies and solutions to poverty in America, with an emphasis on how philanthropists can better support campaigns that address crital issues facing the poor.
  • Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short- Highlighting the problems of the 42 million low-income working families with children, this report by the Working Poor Families Project provides state-by-state rankings on low-income working families, the problem of rising income inequality in our country, and what policies at the state and federal level could help.
  • More Equity and Less Red Tape: Rethinking the Comparability and Compliance Provisions in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act- Title I is supposed to provide federal funds to make funding fairer for poor students, yet as this Center for American Progress report details, it often does little to accomplish that goal but does impose red tape of school districts.  The report suggests coupling a greater demand on states to achieve funding equity in exchange for loosening specific mandates on how state and local schools achieve that goal.
  • Build Supply of Quality Child Care- Part of a series of briefs on child care by the Center for Law and Social Policy, this brief highlights the need by working families for a supply and funding of quality care settings.  A related brief, Supporting a Diverse and Culturally Competent Workforce, emphasizes that a diverse workforce trained to deal with racial, ethnic and linguistic diversity is a key part of providing quality care. And its Stable, Quality Subsidy Policy details policy tools for state policymakers for achieving better funding structures for care.

The Urban Institute has a couple of key reports on helping both ex-prisoners and the children of the incarcerated:

  • Release Planning for Successful Prisoner Reentry- This guidebook for communities by the Urban Institute explores key policies to meet the needs of ex-prisoners and reintegrate them into our communities.
  • Mapping Community Data on Children of Prisoners- Often forgotten in policy debates, the 1.7 million children of incarcerated parents can be better served through mapping where they live using map and data analysis, according to the Urban Institute which suggests strategies for doing this effectively.  

Health Care Reform Strategies: Can a Public Insurance Plan Increase Competition and Lower the Costs of Health Reform?- Sen. Obama and a number of states have proposed developing a publicly-run health care plan to compete with private insurers, an approach the Urban Institute argues can lower administrative costs and actually enhance competition in insurance and hospital markets.