Race Capitalism Justice

Source: Boston Review, Forum I, 2017
(subscription required)

Walter Johnson, Harvard historian and author of the acclaimed River of Dark Dreams, urges us to embrace a vision of justice attentive to the history of slavery—not through the lens of human rights, but instead through an honest accounting of how slavery was the foundation of capitalism, a legacy that continues to afflict people of color and the poor. Inspired by Cedric J. Robinson’s work on racial capitalism, as well as Black Lives Matter and its forebears—including the black radical tradition, the Black Panthers, South African anti-apartheid struggles, and organized labor—contributors to this volume offer a critical handbook to racial justice in the age of Trump.

Understanding the Intersection of Medicaid and Work

Source: Rachel Garfield, Robin Rudowitz and Anthony Damico, Kaiser Family Foundation, Issue Brief, February 2017

From the overview:
Medicaid is the nation’s public health insurance program for people with low incomes. Overall, the Medicaid program covers more than 70 million Americans, or 1 in 5, including many with complex and costly needs for care. Historically, nonelderly, non-disabled adults accounted for a small share (27%) of Medicaid enrollees; however, the enactment and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded coverage to nonelderly adults with income up to 138% FPL, or $16,394 for an individual in 2016. As of January 2017, 32 states have implemented the ACA Medicaid expansion. By design, the expansion extended coverage to the working poor (both parents and childless adults), most of whom do not otherwise have access to affordable coverage. With the expansion to more “able-bodied” adults, questions have arisen about tying work to eligibility.

President Trump may consider waiver proposals with a work requirement, and the Administration and leaders in Congress are considering proposals to repeal the ACA and to transform Medicaid from an entitlement program with guaranteed federal matching dollars for states to a block grant with no entitlement and capped funding. Such proposals would grant states additional flexibility to design and administer their programs and potentially include an option to allow states to impose a work requirement for Medicaid beneficiaries, which is not allowed under current law. This issue brief examines the work status of non-elderly, non-disabled adults with Medicaid coverage to understand the potential implications of work requirement proposals in Medicaid.

State Taxation and the Reallocation of Business Activity: Evidence from Establishment-Level Data

Source: Xavier Giroud, Joshua D. Rauh, US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies Paper No. CES-WP-17-02, January 11, 2017

From the abstract:
Using Census microdata on multi-state firms, we estimate the impact of state taxes on business activity. For C corporations, employment and the number of establishments have corporate tax elasticities of -0.4, and do not vary with changes in personal tax rates. Pass-through entity activities show tax elasticities of -0.2 to -0.3 with respect to personal tax rates, and are invariant with respect to corporate tax rates. Reallocation of productive resources to other states drives around half the effect. Capital shows similar patterns but is 36% less elastic than labor. The responses are strongest for firms in tradable and footloose industries.

Softening Investment Expectations Signal Accelerating Budget Pressure from Pensions

Source: Thomas Aaron, Timothy Blake, Moody’s, Sector InDepth, State and Local Government – US, February 16, 2017
(subscription required)

State and local governments have held down annual pension contributions with high assumed discount rates, which in turn reflect high assumed returns on their pension assets. Generally, the higher the assumed discount rate, the lower the annual contribution requirement. Facing investment conditions that increasingly suggest lower future returns, however, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS, Aa2 stable) and many of its national peers are gradually lowering their assumed discount rates. Such moves will generally result in governments making higher pension contributions, incrementally improving their discipline in funding their pension promises earlier in time. But these higher contributions also mean that budgetary pressure from pensions, already on the rise in many cases, is accelerating. Meanwhile, pension investment volatility risk remains high.

Pre-ACA Market Practices Provide Lessons for ACA Replacement Approaches

Source: Gary Claxton, Larry Levitt, and Karen Pollitz, Kaiser Family Foundation, Issue Brief, February 2017

From the overview:
Significant changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are being considered by lawmakers who have been critical of its general approach to providing coverage and to some of its key provisions. An important area where changes will be considered has to do with how people with health problems would be able to gain and keep access to coverage and how much they may have to pay for it. People’s health is dynamic. At any given time, an estimated 27% of non-elderly adults have health conditions that would make them ineligible for coverage under traditional non-group underwriting standards that existed prior to the ACA. Over their lifetimes, everyone is at risk of having these periods, some short and some that last for the rest of their lives.

One of the biggest changes that the ACA made to the non-group insurance market was to eliminate consideration by insurers of a person’s health or health history in enrollment and rating decisions. This assured that people who had or who developed health problems would have the same plan choices and pay the same premiums as others, essentially pooling their expected costs together to determine the premiums that all would pay.

Proposals for replacing the ACA such as Rep. Tom Price’s Empowering Patients First Act and Speaker Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” policy paper would repeal these insurance market rules, moving back towards pre-ACA standards where insurers generally had more leeway to use individual health in enrollment and rating for non-group coverage.1 Under these proposals, people without pre-existing conditions would generally be able to purchase coverage anytime from private insurers. For people with health problems, several approaches have been proposed: (1) requiring insurers to accept people transitioning from previous coverage without a gap (“continuously covered”); (2) allowing insurers to charge higher premiums (within limits) to people with pre-existing conditions who have had a gap in coverage; and (3) establishing high-risk pools, which are public programs that provide coverage to people declined by private insurers…..
Related:
Compare Key Elements of ACA Repeal and Replace Proposals with New Interactive Tool

States of Change: Demographic Change, Representation Gaps, and Challenges to Democracy, 1980–2060

Source: Rob Griffin, William H. Frey, and Ruy Teixeira, Center for American Progress, February 17, 2017

….Historically, our political institutions have struggled to represent a society that is demographically different than its electorate. The systematic disenfranchisement of women and communities of color, for example, contributed to a public policy process that ignored and underserved large portions of the population. Functionally, they created what we will refer to as representation gaps—the difference between the percentage of voters who belong to a given group and the percentage of the whole population that belong to that same group. While an electorate that resembles the general population is no guarantee of a representative polity, we believe it creates conditions favorable to one.

Representational gaps such as these persist in modern America politics. They are obviously different in size and arise as the result of different processes, but the problems they induce are similar. Given their continued existence, the goal of this report is as follows:
– Document the representation gaps we have observed along age, education, gender, and race lines over the last several decades.
– Predict what those gaps might look like going into the future using the best available demographic projections and turnout data.
– Facilitate a conversation about the representational challenges the United States is likely to face in the coming decades and what solutions might work best to confront them.

Our analysis finds the white overrepresentation and minority underrepresentation has been a defining feature of American politics for decades. In fact, we may currently be at peak levels of both overrepresentation and underrepresentation. We also find that white overrepresentation is likely to decline in the future, as underrepresentation of Latinos and Asians declines significantly due to projected increases in citizenship among these groups. This trend will be especially noticeable in states that currently have the highest white representation gaps, such as Arizona, California, and Texas. By 2060, we expect the states with the highest white representation gaps to be interior states, such as Kansas, Utah, and Wyoming…..

2017 Bridge Report

Source: Eileen Houlihan, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), 2017

From the press release:
– List includes: Brooklyn & Throgs Neck (N.Y.), Yankee Doodle (Conn.), Memorial (Va.-DC) and Greensboro (N.C.) Bridges.
– 1,900 structurally deficient bridges are on the Interstate Highway System.
– Average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 67 years old, compared to 39 years for non-deficient bridges.
– 41% of U.S. bridges (250,406) are over 40 years old and have not had major reconstruction work.
– Website features listing of deficient bridges by state and congressional district.

States Struggle to Close Their Own Gender Pay Gaps

Source: Teresa Wiltz, Stateline, February 17, 2017

California has the most stringent equal pay laws in the nation. But among its own workers, the state is still struggling to close the pay gap between men and women.

Women who work for the state earn 79 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to a 2014 report by the California Department of Human Resources. That’s a wider gap than that faced by women who work in the private sector or for the federal government in the state.

California isn’t alone. While nationwide data is not available, male state workers earn more than their female counterparts in many states, including Idaho, Maryland and Texas.

An assessment last year by the online salary data firm PayScale listed the gender pay gap in public administration the fourth-highest among 21 professions and industries across the economy, with women making less than 75 percent of what men make — an average of $16,900 less. The gap in public administration trailed only finance and insurance, professional services and mining.

Many cities, including Alexandria, Virginia, New Orleans and Sacramento, have spotted the gap and tried to address it, just as some states have…..

State Fiscal Support for Higher Education: Fiscal Year 2016-2017

Source: Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers, February 2017

From the press release:
This year’s Grapevine survey tentatively points to a modest national 3.4% increase in state support for higher education from fiscal year 2015-16 (FY16) to fiscal year 2016-17 (FY17), though an exact figure awaits a budget resolution in Illinois. There, legislators enacted only a partial FY17 budget that funded higher education through December 2016, and an agreement for augmenting those funds through the rest of the fiscal year has not yet been reached. This continues an ongoing budget impasse that left Illinois without a state budget in FY16, when funding for higher education was also limited to partial stopgap monies. In all, Illinois higher education funding remains sharply curtailed. Stopgap monies appropriated in FY16 amounted to only 17% of funding allocated in fiscal year 2014-15 (FY15), the last fiscal year for which Illinois enacted a full state budget. Stopgap monies allocated so far in FY17, although an increase over the partial funding amount appropriated in FY16, amount to only 29% of FY15 funding.

In the remaining 49 states, FY17 fiscal support for higher education represent an overall one-year increase of 2.7% from FY16: 39 states registered increases ranging from 0.2% to 10.5%, and 10 reported decreases ranging from 0.4% to 8.8%. The 2.7% increase for these 49 states is lower than the 4.1% increase registered from FY15 to FY16 in last year’s survey. Slumping energy prices appear to have taken a toll in at least some states, including Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wyoming—states with a high economic stake in the oil and gas sector and that reported the largest declines in higher education funding between FY16 and FY17.