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Why not growth?

As the self-described party of the middle class, Democrats’ principal concern should be growth.

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Democrats’ intense focus on income inequality is understandable, but why not the same obsession over economic growth?

From 2001 to 2013, a span of thirteen years, average annual growth in the United States came out to a lumbering 1.8 percent. That is half the average annual growth rate we experienced from 1950 to 2000 —a period during which the middle class shined and the poverty rate declined.

Yes, the Great Recession contributed to substandard growth rates, but since 2001, the U.S. economy has exceeded 3 percent growth only twice. In the half century prior, we surpassed 3 percent growth per year 34 times. What was once “normal” growth is now a rarity.

Economists predict that America’s future growth rate will settle somewhere between mediocre and sickly. The Congressional Budget Office projects an average of 2.5 percent annual growth over the next ten years, while PricewaterhouseCoopers projects an average of 2.4 percent growth through 2020. Middling growth like that just won’t make an appreciable difference in the lives of average working people.

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Keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is the #1 thing we can do to prevent gun violence. Right now in many states, a stalker or domestic abuser can walk into a gun show and purchase a weapon, or jump online and surf through his many semi-automatic choices on Armslist.com. That threatens the safety of women, of children, and of our community as a whole. States that have closed these loopholes have seen a 38% decrease in women being shot and killed by their domestic abuser. Those who would protect an abuser’s ability to buy a gun without a background check are making women less safe.

On the heels of the first-ever Senate hearing on the intersection of gun safety and domestic violence, Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, director of Third Way’s Social Policy & Politics Program joined former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and many other national women leaders to launch the #ProtectAllWomen Leadership Network to educate state and federal leaders on the need for solutions that protect women from gun violence. 

Read more about the #ProtectAllWomen Leadership Nextwork.

The intersection of banking regulations and federal policy makes opening a banking account much more complicated than you might think for marijuana-related businesses in states that have legalized it for recreational or medical purposes. Our latest memo lays out 8 things policymakers should know—but may not—about the complicated intersection of banking regulations, federal marijuana policy, and state legalization laws.

The Administration has been negotiating with Iran and the other members of the UN Security Council to reach a comprehensive agreement to end Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. They decided to extend the interim agreement, known as the JPOA, another four months.
 We lay out Congress’ options in this chart. 
The extension of the JPOA, while not acceptable as a permanent solution, is the only path to the possibility of a comprehensive agreement. 

The Administration has been negotiating with Iran and the other members of the UN Security Council to reach a comprehensive agreement to end Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. They decided to extend the interim agreement, known as the JPOA, another four months.

We lay out Congress’ options in this chart

The extension of the JPOA, while not acceptable as a permanent solution, is the only path to the possibility of a comprehensive agreement. 

REPORT: The State of Relationship Recognition 2014

2014 marks the first time in history that a majority of Americans live in a place where gay couples’ relationships are legally recognized.

Our 4th annual State of Relationship Recognition Report documents the astounding progress we’ve made over the last year:

  • 7 more states have legalized marriage for gay couples; 
  • 54% of Americans now live in marriage states, up 27% since last summer; 
  • That’s the biggest annual increase ever, and all indications point to even faster growth over the next year.

We hope you’ll take a look! 

R.I.P. Isolationism

By Benjamin Freeman and Michelle Diggles

The Associated Press

The foreign policy civil war inside the Republican Party is spilling onto the op-ed pages. The latest battle began Friday when Texas Gov. Rick Perry tried to brand Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul as anisolationist for Paul’s stance on Iraq. The senator was quick to reject the label.

Why was the senator so eager to dodge the isolationist moniker? Because it’s electoral kryptonite with the American public, whom, despite what you may have heard, do not support isolationism. Americans are not asking for a retreat from the world. They’re a pragmatic public that’s rejecting neo-conservative interventionism, but they’re also opportunistic, engaging and diplomatic. And, they’re looking to Washington for a foreign policy that matches those traits.

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These Are Gay Ol’ Times in the United States

By Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post

With the world seeming to come apart at the seams over the past 24 hours, I want to point to some good news here at home. The fourth annual State of Relationship Recognition report will be released on Monday by the centrist think tank Third Way with this key joyful nugget: “44 percent of Americans now live in states where gay couples can marry; 54 percent live in a jurisdiction that legally recognizes gay couples’ relationships.” According to Sarah Trumble and Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, authors of the report, 2014 is “the very first year an American is more likely to live in a place with relationship recognition than in a place without it.”

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Workforce Programs

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama tapped Vice President Joe Biden to “lead an across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.”

To assist with this effort, Third Way spent the last four months working to uncover the secret sauce that makes workforce programs go from good to great. We examined hundreds of programs as we searched for unique training innovations with external validation to support their efforts. Based on this comprehensive research, we identified seven key traits of successful programs. As policymakers work to remake the federal workforce system, it is imperative that grant programs and other federal support incent and reward these characteristics.

  1. Actively Engage Local Business: Graduates of training programs are more likely to land jobs and earn higher wages when their training is specifically designed to meet the needs of employers.
  2. Use Labor Market Data to Drive Decisions: Successful programs use labor market data and job projections to tailor training to growing industries and eliminate irrelevant programs.
  3. Treat Education Like a Job: Training programs work best when they simulate actual work conditions as closely as possible, from the topics studied to the actual learning environment.
  4. Connect People to Careers: Effective programs clarify the skills employers want for a series of progressively more advanced jobs in an industry, bringing transparency to the job market and building career tracks.
  5. Provide Wrap-Around Student Services: Successful programs provide a host of comprehensive—or “wrap-around”—support services for job seekers, from assistance with childcare and transportation to academic advising.
  6. Tap Innovative Funding Sources: Effective workforce development providers are creative in seeking funding, often tapping a diverse array of financial resources to deliver their services.
  7. Embrace Evaluation: Strong workforce development providers identify their strengths and weaknesses and constantly use data and evaluations to improve.

To learn more, check out our full report here

Centrist Voice on National Security

By Martin Matishak

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Despite the increasing hyper-partisanship over the once politically neutral topic of national security, Mieke Eoyang contends there are still analysts and lawmakers out there who want to engage in pragmatic discussions about the country’s defense.

There is a “tremendously receptive” audience in Washington and around the country that’s “hungry” for more moderate stances on national security matters, according to Eoyang, director of Third Way’s National security Program.

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Why do House Republicans have such a hard time passing immigration reform, even in the face of bad politics? Third Way’s Senior Political Analyst Michelle Diggles explains why it’s a matter of head vs. heart.

thebricblog:

In our poll 72% of Republicans were conservatives. And conservatives overwhelmingly support traditional authority and social order. These voters might pragmatically believe there is a policy response to undocumented immigrants that isn’t deportation.

But in their hearts, they view undocumented immigrants and the young people fighting for their lives as usurping traditional hierarchies and sowing the seeds of disorder. And whatever the true cause of the current influx of unaccompanied minors on the border, for conservatives chaos and instability are the results when you permit even an inch of lawlessness.

Today Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) have introduced a bill to restore the Affordable Care Act’s contraception rules to the balanced compromise that existed before the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.
This bill clarifies Congress’s intent, solidifies the generous accommodation for non-profit religious organizations, and ensures that no woman’s access to contraception is thwarted because of the beliefs of her boss.
Learn more about why this bill strikes the right balance.

Today Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) have introduced a bill to restore the Affordable Care Act’s contraception rules to the balanced compromise that existed before the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.

This bill clarifies Congress’s intent, solidifies the generous accommodation for non-profit religious organizations, and ensures that no woman’s access to contraception is thwarted because of the beliefs of her boss.

Learn more about why this bill strikes the right balance.