Sitting on a Powder Keg

There seems to me to be a total disconnect between political reporting and commentary in our country and the reality of our politics on the ground. Political reporters and pundits are dying for the world to return to the pre-Trump era (forgetting that in many ways, the Republicans were, in their abuse of gerrymandering and the filibuster and embrace of ideas like the independent judiciary theory, well along the way to rejecting the basic norms of representative democracy long before Trump). Harrisburg reporters focus on the calls for bipartisanship from both sides. So, we are seeing reporting on, for example, the Republican presidential nomination race that normalizes it, as it focuses on who is up and who is down, what the strategies of the candidates are, etc. And yet, on the ground, what do we see? –Trump continues to make wild claims about 2020 and masks racist attacks on Alvin… Continue reading

STATEMENT: House Dems Pass Inflation Reduction Act To Lower Drug Prices, Make Health Care & Energy Costs More Affordable

For Immediate Release Date: August 12, 2022 Contact: Kirstin Snow, snow@pennbpc.org   House Democrats Pass Inflation Reduction Act To Lower Drug Prices, Make Health Care and Energy Costs More Affordable   Historic Bill to Curb Big Pharma and Make Corporations Pay What They Owe Moves Towards Passage Harrisburg, PA — Following U.S. House passage of the Inflation Reduction Act—a bill that will enact historic drug pricing reform, reduce health insurance costs, lower energy costs, and reduce the national deficit—Marc Stier, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center, released the following statement:    The U.S. House’s vote to pass the Inflation Reduction Act makes historic progress on many fronts. It takes a huge step forward in addressing the threat of climate change by investing $370 billion in a series of incentives to encourage the replacement of fossil fuels with clean,… Continue reading

STATEMENT: On the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 — What it means for PA

For Immediate Release Date: July 29, 2022 Contact: Kirstin Snow, snow@pennbpc.org Statement on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 — What it means for PA Stephen Herzenberg and Marc Stier   We are happy to see that a deal has been reached to address growing inflation by reducing prescription health care costs, taxing corporations and the ultra-rich, and combatting climate change and reducing energy costs. We call on the United States Senate and House of Representatives to take immediate action to pass this legislation and send it to President Biden’s desk. This legislation, along with the Infrastructure law and the American Rescue Plan, again shows that Democrats are committed to meeting the needs of everyone in the country, no matter where we live or what we look like or whether we are rich and poor, by using the power of the government. Only by acting together can we ensure that we… Continue reading

The “Billionaire Tax”: What It Is and Why We Need It

UPDATE: Senator Ron Wyden has released his “Billionaires Income Tax” legislation—read the language of the bill here:  https://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Billionaires%20Income%20Tax.pdf. As negotiations between President Biden and House and Senate members over the Build Back Better plan have developed in the last few weeks, a new tax proposal to fund the close to $2 billion investment in health care, child care, paid family leave, climate change, and other programs, has come to the fore: a “billionaire tax.” While Senator Wyden and others have been discussing this proposal for some time, it is a relatively unknown concept and would be a new form of federal taxation. Here we briefly explain what it is and why it is an excellent idea. The new proposal is to tax the increased wealth of the richest Americans each year. The tax would apply immediately to tradeable assets—stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and derivatives—where the value of the asset is… Continue reading

MEMO: The Corporate Profits Minimum Tax and Why We Need It

Democrats are set to introduce a 15% corporate minimum tax as a funding mechanism for the Build Back Better plan. The Corporate Profits Minimum Tax legislation would ensure that roughly 200 corporations that report more than $1 billion in profits to shareholders pay at least a 15% tax rate on those gigantic profits. It would stop giant, profitable corporations, such as Amazon, Bank of America, FedEx, General Motors, Netflix, and Nike, from escaping all federal taxes. These corporations and others like them make huge profits that they report to their stockholders in filings required by the federal government. But they take advantage of multiple tax loopholes to avoid paying federal corporate income taxes. This new tax would raise roughly $200 billion to $300 billion dollars over ten years. These revenues would enable the federal government to make new investments in helping families with children, health care, child care, elder care,… Continue reading

RELEASE: “Build Back Better: A Transformative Plan for 21st-Century America”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Kirstin Snow; snow@pennbpc.org; 215.510.9336 Build Back Better: A Transformative Plan for 21st-Century America President Biden’s Build Back Better framework is an unprecedented and transformative plan to better the lives of all Americans—Black, brown, and white; those with low, moderate, or high incomes; the youngest children and the oldest seniors. It will help families care for children while making quality pre-K available to all 3- and 4-year-olds. It will create hundreds of thousands of good jobs, many in unionized trades and clean manufacturing while drastically cutting greenhouse gases and reducing energy costs for every household. It will reduce the cost of health care and housing for millions. And it will make college education more affordable, boosting the future prospects of our young people and our economy as a whole. It will be paid for by new taxes on the largest, most profitable corporations and the wealthiest Americans… Continue reading

This Is How (and How Many) Pennsylvanians Are Helped by the Build Back Better Plan

Updated November 18, 2021. President Biden’s Build Back Better plan is an unprecedented and transformative plan to better the lives of all Americans—Black, brown, and white; those with low, moderate, or high incomes; the youngest children and the oldest seniors. We have given an overview of the whole program—but here we want to focus on the many ways Pennsylvanians will be touched by the Build Back Better plan. These preliminary estimates of the numbers of Pennsylvanians who will benefit from Build Back Better are from official government sources. Soon, we will be updating them with additional and more detailed estimates from policy analysts outside government. How the Build Back Better plan helps Pennsylvania’s children and families Provides access to affordable child care. Child care is a huge burden for families in our state. The annual average cost of sending a young child to a child care center in Pennsylvania is… Continue reading

The Prospects for Progress in DC

News stories from Washington, D.C., are beginning to remind us of a melodrama with one cliffhanger after another—and they got worse after Speaker Pelosi decided not to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill last night. The key question appears to be: “will division between progressives and moderates in the Democratic party” be overcome so they can pass a reconciliation bill, an infrastructure bill, and an increase in the debt limit? Drama is almost always a part of major policy change, and cliffhangers sell newspapers and generate clicks on the Web. But looking forward, it seems clear that much of this daily drama is hysterical. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that President Biden and the Democrats in Congress are going to do all of these things within the next week or two. Why do I believe this? First, as a recent poll by… Continue reading

1968 and 2020

I was talking on a national call about this time and 1968. I was only 13 then and maybe don’t recall how crazy and unsettled and uncertain that time felt, what with the Tet Offensive (which made it clear that Vietnam was a lost cause), the assassinations and riots, the Democratic convention, and the election of Nixon (and probably more I don’t remember). But this time feels more uncertain and scarier. I’m not exactly sure why but I suppose it’s mostly Trump and the support he has from half this country. Police brutality, property destruction in cities, even COVID-19 wouldn’t feel utterly unmanageable if we had a president who was not both incompetent and a threat to our Constitution, democracy, and freedom. And while Nixon’s possible election was scary, he was never nearly as scary or as bad as Trump. The immorality of Vietnam weighed heavily on us, but it… Continue reading

No “Buts”—Really Seeing White Supremacy in America

Prefatory note: I start more writing projects than I can finish and usually have 20 or 30 half-finished pieces that I’m waiting to complete at the right moment. This seemed the right time to finish and post this one on racial justice. There is nothing new here at all. But it seems important for white people to be talking about these issues at this moment. My colleagues in the State Directors Racial Equity workgroup of the State Priorities Project State Directors helped me immensely with the hard thinking and personal reflection that led to this piece. Of them, I particularly want to thank James Jimenez of New Mexico, a great colleague and friend who contributed in many ways to this piece. I’ve been part of a group of directors of organizations that parallel mine who came together to better understand how racial equity should fit into our work. And those… Continue reading