EPI News

Ryan’s budget: Robin Hood in reverse

On Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled the House Republican budget resolution, which contains the same misguided and destructive budget priorities that drew widespread criticism last year. EPI Senior Policy Analyst Ethan Pollack examined Ryan’s budget resolution and found that, much like the budget he proposed last year, this one burdens seniors, the disabled, and children—while cutting taxes for the rich. “Tax cuts for people who don’t need them and economic insecurity for everyone else is grossly irresponsible budget and economic policy,” wrote Pollack.

Ryan’s plan would cut taxes by roughly $4.6 trillion, with most of the tax cuts benefiting those earning more than $200,000. His proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and food assistance would fall heavily on seniors, the disabled, and children. Ryan’s budget is doubly bad for children because his proposed cuts to public investments (mostly infrastructure and education) would leave our nation’s young people with crumbling roads and bridges—and would cause them to enter the labor market with fewer skills.

Further, Ryan’s budget does nothing to address the nation’s jobs crisis. Conversely, Ryan’s plan would slow job growth. The shock to aggregate demand from near-term spending cuts would result in roughly 1.3 million jobs lost in 2013 and 2.8 million jobs lost in 2014, or 4.1 million jobs through 2014.

Media outlets, including The Nation and Media Matters for America, have also noted the budget plan’s misguided priorities.

The Nation’s Sasha Abramsky re-examined last year’s People’s Budget, which the Congressional Progressive Caucus developed with assistance from EPI. Abramsky noted that while many lawmakers were consumed with slashing deficits, the People’s Budget focused on stimulating job growth and investing in public infrastructure, education, renewable energy, and transportation.

Referring to the People’s Budget, Abramsky wrote, “According to the Economic Policy Institute, the budget would have significantly boosted employment and economic growth while paving the way to a budget surplus by 2021.”

Health care reform increased employer-sponsored coverage for young adults—even in a poor labor market

Today marks two years since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law. One provision of health reform that has seen immediate and positive effects is the stipulation allowing young adults (up to age 26) to stay on or join their parents’ employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) policies. This week’s Economic Snapshot shows that roughly 414,000 young adults obtained coverage in 2010 because of this provision—even though their employment rate fell further than that of any other age group from 2009–10.

State Department right to ban Alaskan fish processing jobs from J-1 visa Summer Work Travel program

On Tuesday, the Alaska Dispatch published EPI Immigration Policy Analyst Daniel Costa’s blog post “State Department right to ban Alaskan fish processing jobs from J-1 visa Summer Work Travel program.” In the piece, Costa explains how the Alaskan fish processing industry has come to rely on an exploitable foreign workforce by misusing a visa program intended to provide cultural exchanges for college students from around the world. The J-1 visa program allows the industry to pay the students much less than the average wage paid to other similar workers and save money on federal and state payroll taxes. Members of the Alaskan congressional delegation are seeking to protect the economic interests of the fish processors while disregarding the interests of Alaska’s workers, while the State Department is attempting to exclude from the J-1 program these hazardous jobs with no cultural or educational value, Costa writes.

EPI in the news

  • EPI labor economist Heidi Shierholz spoke with U.S. News and World Report’s Danielle Kurtzleben about the high unemployment rate among teens age 16 to 19. While the overall unemployment rate hovered at 8.3 percent in February, the teen rate increased to 23.8 percent—up from between 14 and 18 percent in the mid-2000s.  Shierholz explained that the high teen jobless rate is in part a function of the larger national jobs crisis. “It shoots up higher during recessions [and] pretty much tracks the overall unemployment rate at a much higher level,” said Shierholz.
  • EPI Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Robert Scott’s research on the impact of NAFTA and subsequent free trade agreements on the American economy remains a top source for reporters, most recently appearing in Harper’s and Bloomberg Businessweek.

From Harper’s: “NAFTA is now believed to have caused at least 700,000 net job losses…but the number is likely much higher (based on the Labor Department’s granting of aid eligibility to the estimated 2.5 million people it says have been harmed by trade agreements since 1994).”