Recession and Economic Recovery, Promoting Public Transit Systems, Improving Paths to Higher Education, and Much More

Tax Rate for Richest 400 Taxpayers Plummeted in Recent Decades, Even as their Pre-Tax Incomes Skyrocketed - The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) provides insights on the nation's extreme income polarization in this report.  CBPP finds that even as the tax rate for the richest 400 wealthiest tax filers has been cut almost in half in the past 20 years, these individuals' pre-tax incomes have dramatically increased by almost five times their initial levels. 

Recession and Economic Recovery:

  • Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on Employment and Economic Output From October 2009 Through December 2009 - The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessed ARRA's impact on both the public and private sector and reports: "in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2009, ARRA added between 1.0 million and 2.1 million to the number of workers employed in the United States, and it increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by between 1.4 million and 3.0 million."
  • Leaving in droves - This snapshot by the Economic Policy Institute finds dual trends for younger and older workers:  labor force participation rate for workers age 16-24 has decreased from 59.1% to 54.7% in the 25 months since the recession started, representing a loss of 1.3 million young workers, yet the percentage of workers age 55 and older in the workforce increased, representing an increase of 2.3 million workers, as many older workers delay retirement or reenter the labor force.
  • TANF Emergency Fund Extension Meets CBO Criteria for an Effective Policy to Increase Employment - The TANF Emergency Fund — which provides state funds to create subsidized jobs — is a cost effective way to create jobs and ease financial hardship in the recession, argues the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in this report.

Promoting Public Transit Systems:

  • The Urgency of Resurrecting Congestion Pricing in New York - The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy analyzes the structural roots of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)'s persistent budget woes and finds that congestion pricing would be the most appropriate and effective policy response.
  • Raise My Taxes, Please!  Financing High Quality Public Transit Service Saves Me Money Overall - Public transit saves households far more money than is usually calculated, according to this analysis by the Victoria Transportation Policy Institute.  Comparing costs between a number of U.S. cities, the study finds that providing high quality public transit service requires $775 annually in public transit expenses, but eliminates $2,350 in vehicle, parking and roadway savings, or $1,575 in overall net savings, in addition to congestion reductions, reduced traffic accidents, pollution emission reductions, improved mobility for non-drivers, and improved public fitness and health.

Improving Paths to Higher Education:

  • Towards More Inclusive College Savings Plans - The Center for Social Development identifies and comprehensively assesses several state policies that promote access to higher education, such as facilitating enrollment and contributions, removing savings disincentives, increasing saving incentives, and strengthening tax benefits.
  • Graduated Success: Sustainable Economic Opportunity Through One- and Two-Year Credentials - A new report from Demos explores how one- and two-year credential programs can lead to higher wages and economic opportunity and can be viable alternatives to four-year degree programs.  However, supporting degree completion and addressing barriers facing low-income students, such as education costs and lack of adequate academic preparation in high school, must also be a focus for success.  

Racing the Statehouse: Advancing Equitable Policies in 2010 - The Applied Research Center released this study to highlight innovative solutions to institutional racism.  A series of state-level case studies from eight states, the report finds many viable policy solutions can help promote racial equity when state lawmakers explicitly consider the racial impacts of their decisions. 

A Path to Homeownership: Building a More Sustainable Strategy for Expanding Homeownership -  This Center for American Progress report highlights shared equity home ownership programs, pioneered by hundreds of local and state agencies and community groups, which structure public assistance as an investment rather than a grant to create a more sustainable path to affordable housing.   

An International Look at High-Speed Broadband - In this report, The Brookings Institute performs a comparative analysis of what other countries are doing to promote broadband by analyzing four policy questions: 1) What broadband speeds are countries aiming for their national plans? 2) How are various nations paying for necessary broadband investments? 3) What new applications become available at various broadband speeds? and (4) What value do other nations see broadband can contribute to the economy, social connections, medicine, public security, environmental preservation, energy efficiency, civic engagement, and public sector service delivery? The study recommends that the United States boost individual adoption to 90 percent by 2020 and raise broadband speeds to 100 Mbps.

The Cost of Delay: State Dental Policies Fail One in Five Children - One in five children in America go without dental care each year and two thirds of states do not have effective policies in place to ensure proper dental health and access to care, according to a report by the Pew Center on the States.  Only six states merited “A” grades under the report's evaluation system: Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island and South Carolina.