Repealing, or Working Around, the Cap on State and Local Tax Deductions Would Make the Trump-GOP Tax Law Even More Unfair

Source: Steve Wamhoff, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Just Taxes blog, January 17, 2018

A bipartisan proposal in Congress to eliminate the new $10,000 cap on federal deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) would cost more than $86 billion in 2019 alone and two-thirds of the benefits would go to the richest 1 percent of households. Unfortunately, “work around” proposals in some states to allow their residents to avoid the new federal cap would likely have the same regressive effect on the overall tax code. ….

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Local policy proposals can bridge Latino and (most) white Americans’ response to immigration

Source: Yuen J. Huo, John F. Dovidio, Tomás R. Jiménez, and Deborah J. Schildkraut, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS 2018, published ahead of print January 16, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In the past 15 years, the adoption of subnational immigration policies in the United States, such as those established by individual states, has gone from nearly zero to over 300 per year. These include welcoming policies aimed at attracting and incorporating immigrants, as well as unwelcoming policies directed at denying immigrants access to public resources and services. Using data from a 2016 random digit-dialing telephone survey with an embedded experiment, we examine whether institutional support for policies that are either welcoming or hostile toward immigrants differentially shape Latinos’ and whites’ feelings of belonging in their state (Arizona/New Mexico, adjacent states with contrasting immigration policies). We randomly assigned individuals from the representative sample (n = 1,903) of Latinos (US and foreign born) and whites (all US born) to consider policies that were either welcoming of or hostile toward immigrants. Across both states of residence, Latinos, especially those foreign born, regardless of citizenship, expressed more positive affect and greater belonging when primed with a welcoming (vs. hostile) policy. Demonstrating the importance of local norms, these patterns held among US-born whites, except among self-identified politically conservative whites, who showed more negative affect and lower levels of belonging in response to welcoming policies. Thus, welcoming immigration policies, supported by institutional authorities, can create a sense of belonging not only among newcomers that is vital to successful integration but also among a large segment of the population that is not a direct beneficiary of such policies—US-born whites.

Subnational immigrant policies (i.e., those instituted at the state level in the United States) are not only key to successful integration, they send a message about who belongs. Our evidence suggests that welcoming state-level immigrant policies lead to greater belonging among foreign-born Latinos, US-born Latinos, and even US-born whites. Only self-identified politically conservative whites showed depressed feelings of belonging when state policies support immigrants. Patterns remained constant across states that vary in their historic reception of immigrants (Arizona and New Mexico). These findings suggest that debates about the polarizing effects of immigration policies by racial group are misplaced. With a majority of whites nationally identifying as either liberal or moderate, welcoming immigration policies have direct and spillover effects that can further national unity.
Immigrant-friendly policies make most whites feel welcomed, too
Source: John Timmer, Ars Technica, January 17, 2018

Only Caucasian conservatives feel uncomfortable in a state that welcomes immigrants.

50 Places Raising the Minimum Wage in 2018

Source: Grant Suneson, Michael B. Sauter and John Harrington, 24/7 Wall St., January 9, 2018

Several dozen American cities, counties, and states raised local minimum wages on January 1. In a few California cities, the minimum wage increased by $2.00 or more per hour. In places like Berkeley, San Francisco, and Mountain View — the latter famously home to the headquarters of Google — the minimum wage increased to $15.00 an hour. Workers rights activists frequently target $15.00 as a living wage.

In addition to the 39 states and municipalities that increased the minimum wage on or around New Year’s Day, 11 more plan to raise the minimum later this year, most of them on July 1. Two — Milpitas, CA and Minneapolis, MN — will raise the minimum twice during the year. Some increases are small, automatic raises meant to account for the inflation-driven rising cost of living, but others are part of larger planned increases that will continue in the years to come.

Twenty-Five States Face Revenue Shortfalls in 2018

Source: Ryan Maness, MultiState blog, January 9, 2018

Twenty-five states are currently facing a revenue shortfall, which is a marked improvement over our report from last year, when 31 states were in deficit. New additions to this year’s list include Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Virginia, and Washington have improved enough to drop off our 2018 list.

Health Care Just Became the U.S.’s Largest Employer

Source: Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, January 9, 2018

In the American labor market, services are the new steel. …. Due to the inexorable aging of the country—and equally unstoppable growth in medical spending—it was long obvious that health-care jobs would slowly take up more and more of the economy. But in the last quarter, for the first time in history, health care has surpassed manufacturing and retail, the most significant job engines of the 20th century, to become the largest source of jobs in the U.S. ….

Labor Market Concentration

Source: José Azar, Ioana Marinescu, Marshall I. Steinbaum, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 24147, December 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
A product market is concentrated when a few firms dominate the market. Similarly, a labor market is concentrated when a few firms dominate hiring in the market. Using data from the leading employment website, we calculate labor market concentration for over 8,000 geographic-occupational labor markets in the US. Based on the DOJ-FTC horizontal merger guidelines, the average market is highly concentrated. Using a panel IV regression, we show that going from the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile in concentration is associated with a 15-25% decline in posted wages, suggesting that concentration increases labor market power.

Introduction to the Legislative Process in the U.S. Congress

Source: Congressional Research Service, CRS report, R42843, January 10, 2018

This report introduces the main steps through which a bill (or other item of business) may travel in the legislative process—from introduction to committee and floor consideration to possible presidential consideration. However, the process by which a bill can become law is rarely predictable and can vary significantly from bill to bill. In fact, for many bills, the process will not follow the sequence of congressional stages that are often understood to make up the legislative process. This report presents a look at each of the common stages through which a bill may move, but complications and variations abound in practice. Throughout, the report provides references to a variety of other CRS reports that focus on specific elements of congressional procedure. CRS also has many other reports not cited herein that address some procedural issues in additional detail (including congressional budget and appropriations processes). These reports are organized by subissue at Congressional action on bills typically is planned and coordinated by party leaders in each chamber, though as described in this report, majority party leaders in the House have more tools with which to set the floor agenda than do majority party leaders in the Senate. In both chambers, much of the policy expertise resides in the standing committees, panels of Members who typically take the lead in developing and assessing proposed legislation within specified policy jurisdictions. ….

1,300 Men: Memphis Strike ‘68

Source: The Root and Striking Voices, 2018

….The Root partnered with Striking Voices, a Memphis-based multimedia journalism project, created by journalist and author Emily Yellin, to produce 1,300 Men: Memphis Strike ‘68, an 11-part video series that brings the sanitation strikers’ stories to the forefront where they belong. Yellin, who has written about the South extensively for the New York Times, first interviewed Memphis sanitation strikers 20 years ago. Striking Voices builds on the visionary work of Yellin’s parents, David and Carol Lynn Yellin, journalists who began chronicling the 1968 strike in real time, resulting in a six-year, multimedia, oral, written and visual history archival project, now housed at the library of the University of Memphis. Most of the vivid film footage featured in 1,300 Men was collected by her parents in 1968 as a cornerstone of their pioneering work…..

How to explore networks and entity metadata in the Offshore Leaks Database

Source: Cecile S. Gallego, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists blog, January 16, 2018

This is the second part of a three-part series on ways to search our Offshore Leaks Database that now includes more than 680,000 entities from 55 secrecy jurisdictions. The first installment was How to search the Offshore Leaks Database by location.

The Offshore Leaks database displays networks of entities and individuals that can be challenging to navigate. Here are a few tips on how to make sense of those networks and all the information you can get out of the data we have made public.

To tally seniors in poverty, go beyond income

Source: Jason Maderer, Futurity, January 12, 2018

More older Americans live in deprivation than official US statistics suggest, according to research in a new book.

In her research, Shatakshee Dhongde, associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, found that 12.27 percent of senior citizens were deprived in two or more crucial areas, including multiple disabilities, low income, a lack of education, and severe housing burden.

Dhongde says the research illustrates a shortcoming in the official measure of poverty in the United States, which focuses solely on income.

The federal government reported that 9.5 percent of older Americans were living in poverty in 2013. That’s below the 12.3 percent rate found in Dhondge’s new multidimensional poverty index. ….