Category Archives: Politics

Fifty Shades of Green: High Finance, Political Money, and the U.S. Congress

Source: Thomas Ferguson, Jie Chen, Paul Jorgensen, Roosevelt Institute, May 2017

From the summary:
Social scientists have traditionally struggled to identify clear links between political spending and congressional voting, and many journalists have embraced their skepticism. A giant stumbling block has been the challenge of measuring the labyrinthine ways money flows from investors, firms, and industries to particular candidates. Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Chen directly tackle that classic problem in this paper. Constructing new data sets that capture much larger swaths of political spending, they show direct links between political contributions to individual members of Congress and key floor votes.

Their study builds on two earlier studies published by the Roosevelt Institute. Gerald Epstein and Juan Antonio Montecino’s “Overcharged: The High Cost of High Finance” assesses the staggering costs imposed on the U.S. economy by deregulated, out-of-control finance. Mark Cooper’s “Overcharged and Underserved” analyzes the charges telecommunications oligopolies levy on Americans and their disastrous impacts on services and economic growth.

The message of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Chen’s study is simple: Money influences key congressional floor votes on both finance and telecommunication issues. Americans may not have the “best Congress money can buy”—after all, as they note, their results could be even bleaker—but there is no point in pretending that what appears to be the voice of the people is really often the sound of money talking.

Managers’ Political Beliefs and Gender Inequality among Subordinates: Does His Ideology Matter More Than Hers?

Source: Seth Carnahan, Brad N. Greenwood, Administrative Science Quarterly, Online First, May 5, 2017

From the abstract:
To explore whether managers’ beliefs and attitudes influence gender inequality among their subordinates, we theorize about the relationship between managers’ political ideology, situated on a liberal–conservative continuum, and differences in the hiring, work team selection, and promotion of male versus female subordinates, as well as how a manager’s gender moderates this relationship. We analyze novel microdata from the U.S. legal industry from 2007 to 2012 and find that large law offices whose partners are more liberal hire a larger percentage of female associates, that more-liberal partners are more likely to select female associates to be members of their client teams, and that associates whose supervising partners are more liberal have greater gender parity in promotion rates. Further, we find that the ideology of male partners is significantly more influential than the ideology of female partners in affecting these differences. We find little evidence that sorting on the part of higher-quality female associates drives the results.

Why Unions in the United States will Die: American Labor Organizations in the Age of Trump

Source: Raymond L. Hogler, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Volume 29 Issue 2, June 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This essay analyzes the effects of Donald Trump’s election as President on organized labor in the United States and, more specifically, on the demographic of workers responsible for his electoral college victory. The argument is that culture rather than economics explains Trump’s success in capturing key industrial states. His support depended on white middle-aged male voters without college degrees, the same cohort that makes up the backbone of unions in the United States. The likelihood is that Trump’s policies will further immiserate the American working class rather than reinvigorate it. In three key areas, Trump’s presidency will result in lower union membership density and higher inequality of wealth. The cultural orientation of Trump’s supporters outweighed politics, policy, and competence in selecting a national leader.

A Hundred Days of Trump

Source: David Remnick, New Yorker, May 1, 2017

With his nativist and purely transactional view of politics, he threatens to be democracy’s most reckless caretaker.

Related:
After 100 Days of Trump, America’s Gotten Corruption Fatigue
Source: Bridgette Dunlap, Rolling Stone, April 29, 2017

Trump is enriching himself as president – but what’s worse is that it’s starting to seem normal

The Drivers of Public Sector Pension Reform Across the U.S. States

Source: Michael Thom, The American Review of Public Administration, Volume 47, Issue 4, May 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study analyzes the diffusion of public sector pension reforms across the American states between 1999 and 2012, a policy area notable for its fiscal implications as much as its recent political polarization. Previous enactment in other, non-contiguous states was the largest and most consistent driver of reform. Otherwise, empirical findings suggest that reform antecedents varied by reform type. Existing funding levels reduced the likelihood that states would cut benefits, change pension governance, or reduce cost of living allowances, but had no effect otherwise. Evidence for partisan legislative influence is weak, although Republican control had partial, positive effects on the enactment of pension governance reforms and increases to the retirement age. Across the board, other relevant factors such as constitutional pension protections, collective bargaining rights, and union membership density had no effect. That external contagion pressures have a more robust influence than endogenous conditions raises questions about the future efficacy of pension reform.

We Need To Restore the Frayed Alliance Between Unions and Progressives

Source: Cynthia Phinney, Peter Kellman and Julius Getman, In These Times, March 30, 2017

Progressives are finally energized. Millions of young people became politically active through the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders and several million more joined the women-led solidarity marches of the inaugural weekend. Many of the recently activated are seeking to channel their enthusiasm into effective political resistance. These are heartening developments. But it is far too early to declare victory over those who seek to make America great by returning it to a less tolerant, less progressive past.

A dismayingly large share of the white working class, including union members that once supported liberal candidates and causes, remains supportive of President Donald Trump and his agenda. Only when liberals recognize the importance of labor, and when a progressive labor movement returns to its historic roots, will the battle against right-wing demagogues and zealots be won.

What we are calling for is an active alliance between progressives and organized labor. For progressives and intellectuals, organized labor has much to offer: a rich history, seasoned leaders and, most significantly, an immediate connection to workers. For organized labor, the potential of such an alliance is equally significant. It can renew the commitment to social and political change, reminding workers and their leaders that unions are far more than just vehicles for economic gain. ….

Cook Partisan Voter Index for the 115th Congress

Source: Cook Political Report, 2017

The Cook Political Report is pleased to introduce the 20th anniversary edition of the Partisan Voter Index (PVI) for all 50 states and 435 Congressional districts in the country, compiled especially for the Report by POLIDATA®.

First introduced in 1997, the Cook PVI measures how each district performs at the presidential level compared to the nation as a whole. We have released new PVI scores following every election since 1996 and every round of redistricting since 2001, each time taking into account the prior two presidential elections. This 2017 release has updated our PVI scores to incorporate the results of the November 2016 presidential election.

A Partisan Voting Index score of D+2, for example, means that in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, that district performed an average of two points more Democratic than the nation did as a whole, while an R+4 means the district performed four points more Republican than the national average. If a district performed within half a point of the national average in either direction, we assign it a score of EVEN.

Click here or download our full report below. Additionally, subscribers can view the complete 2017 Partisan Voter Index listing for all 435 districts in three different formats:
2017 Partisan Voter Index by State and District
2017 Partisan Voter Index by Member Name
2017 Partisan Voter Index by Partisan Rank

The Union Household Vote Revisited

Source: Jake Rosenfeld and Patrick Denice, OnLabor blog, April 11, 2017

A spate of labor-related election postmortems converged on one key theme: Donald Trump managed to cleave significant union support away from the Democrats. …. It is true that the Democratic-Republican vote split among union households was narrower in 2016 than in any time since, well, Ronald Reagan’s re-election. In 2016, exit polls indicate that voters in union households supported the Democratic over the Republican candidate by only 8 points. In 2012, by contrast, the Democratic advantage among members of union households was a yawning 18 points. And 2016’s gap looks positively miniscule compared to the Democratic vote advantage among union households Bill Clinton enjoyed. In 1992, exit polls suggest that members of union households preferred Clinton to George H.W. Bush by over 30 points. ….

…. But there is another way of investigating the issue. What if the shrunken Democratic vote advantage among union households in 2016 didn’t so much stem from Trump’s inroads among union household members, but from union households turning to outsider candidates over the Democratic Party choice? ….