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Report: US Joins Lesotho and Swaziland with Worst Policies for Families

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. 

Wal-Mart Rips Off Taxpayers by Paying Rent to Itself

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. 

Bush's Fake Federalism: Health Care

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:

Ranking the States on Economic Development

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.

Raising Revenue Through Fair Tax Systems

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.

Education Quality & Voting Machine Malfunctions

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.

Shutting the Courtroom Door: How the Corporate Right Mobilized in the States

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.

US: The Sorry State of our Education Infrastructure

While conservatives obfuscate their support for No Child Left Behind (see today's Eye on the Right), a much more pressing issue faces America's education system: the state of school buildings and the physical infrastructure. In a new report from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the union surveyed its own members to evaluate the state of school buildings. The result is "Building Minds, Minding Buildings: Turning Crumbling Schools Into Environments for Learning."

The Labor Vote

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.

The Emerging Progressive Majority

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.