Cheating the Future
It isn’t just airports that are getting squeezed by the automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts known as sequestration. This chart illustrates the consequences of these cuts across a variety of industries. Read more in our recent report.
By Timothy Taylor, The Conversable Economist
When any large group of Americans seems to be moving backward over a sustained period of time, it’s cause for concern. In Wayward Sons: The Emerging Gender Gap in Labor Markets and Education, a report written for Third Way, David Autor and Melanie Wasserman point out: “Over the last three decades, the labor market trajectory of males in the U.S. has turned downward along four dimensions: skills acquisition; employment rates; occupational stature; and real wage levels.” Moreover, Autor and Wasserman argue that these patterns are intertwined through mechanisms that involve marriage decisions and family structure.*
Educational achievement for men went backward for a time, and has only recently been recovering back toward the levels of the 1960s. Here’s a figure showing the pattern for the share of 35 year-olds who have completed a four-year college degree, but similar patterns arise if one looks at completing high school, or completing some college, or other measures of education.
Employment rates for both white men and black men have been sagging since the 1970s, although they took an additional drop during the Great Recession.
WANTED: Fresh Thinking Policy Wonk
There are plenty of think tanks in Washington that define the left. And plenty that define the right. But Third Way is the only DC think tank that has been described as “incorrigible pragmatists,” “radical centrists” and “the best source for new ideas in public policy.”
Third Way’s Fellows Program is an exceptional opportunity for aspiring policymakers to spend a year working closely with some of the top policy staff and issue experts in Washington, longtime veterans of Democratic administrations, Congressional offices and advocacy organizations. Our Fellowship is full-time and comes with a $50,000 annual stipend. Fellows work 12 months—from September through August—and receive two weeks of paid vacation plus health care and benefits.
Our commitment to you is that you will:
- Be in the room when we meet with the biggest policy players in Washington—in the White House, on the Hill, and everywhere in between;
- Work collaboratively with our close-knit policy teams to come up with new ideas, top-notch research and fresh insights;
- Co-author papers and put your own stamp on the policymaking process;
- Participate in our internal strategy and policy planning sessions;
- Learn a new methodology that values taking risks and challenging our own pre-conceptions;
- Leverage our wide-ranging DC network into future career opportunities.
- Most of all, we promise that at the end of the year, you will deeply understand how to turn ideas into impact.
If that sounds compelling, then we hope you’ll apply for one of our four fellowships. Check out all the options here: http://www.thirdway.org/fellows.
By the Editorial Board of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The Cleaver Family of Mayfield. Missing and presumed lost.
There are so many unsettling ideas in David Autor and Melanie Wasserman’s “Wayward Sons” that it is difficult to know where to start. But let’s try this:
“[G]rowing up in a single-parent home appears to significantly decrease the probability of college attendance for boys, yet has no similar effect for girls. Putting these pieces together, we tentatively conclude that boys perform less well academically than girls when fathers are not present in the home and, additionally, benefit less from high levels of maternal education when either the father is absent or is not highly educated.”
Thus, in a nation where one in every three children is being raised by a single parent — four out of five of them single mothers — boys quickly get behind the educational curve. One possible factor, say Mr. Autor and Ms. Wasserman, is that single mothers tend to interact with their sons an hour a day less each week than they do with daughters. This is not always the moms’ fault.
Problems quickly snowball. These boys are more likely than girls raised in similar circumstances to do poorly in school and get in trouble in high school. They for sure don’t want to “talk about it.” They are less likely to attend college or graduate if they happen to get there. Increasingly they can’t find decent jobs without a college education, which makes them less desirable mates for better educated, more ambitious women.
These women may choose to raise children on their own, risking putting more boys behind the curve. Or men drift in and out of short-term relationships with less discriminating women, fathering more children whom they are not likely to stay around to raise. And the cycle gets more vicious.
Studies showed this cycle began shortly after World War II. Over the past 20 years, it has begun to reach crisis proportions, and not just among male children in low-income families. Males from affluent families and good schools tend to do well. Those from less fortunate backgrounds tend not to. The income gap widens.
(Read more after the jump)
by Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast
I think I’m going to start labeling certain posts WBI, for Wonky But Important. I’ll try to make these posts relatively brief, but they’ll all elucidate a policy point that I think we all should know in order to have an intelligent conversation.
Our first WBI is built around a March 8 CBO report brought to my attention this morning by Congressman Chris van Hollen—my very own Montgomery County Md. representative, I am happy to say—finding that half of this year’s expected budget deficit of around $800 billion—half!—can be laid at the door of the struggling economy.
In other words: When the economy is revved up, it reduces the deficit, because there are more tax revenues from all those employed people and businesses working to capacity (and, concomitantly, fewer government expenditures—there’s no need for stimulus spending or lots of unemployment benefits during a humming economy). They measure this in terms of what they call “automatic stabilizers”—the reductions in revenues and increases in outlays that are the result of the weak economy.
By David Brown
President Obama and his Republican dining companions showed last week that bipartisan schmoozing is back. Whether bipartisan deal-making will follow is anyone’s guess. But if it does, there are reasons to believe tax reform will be on the menu.
The most visible movement on tax reform is in the House of Representatives. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last week announced that the bill name “H.R. 1” would be reserved for tax reform. Traditionally, House speakers have given that title to bills that are among their top priorities. Consider some of the recent bills with that name: the stimulus package of 2009 and the Medicare prescription drug law of 2003.
The H.R. 1 designation signals the end of an internal Republican dispute over whether to proceed with tax reform. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-OH) previously advised the party to avoid the issue, because its progress could require votes on controversial topics like the mortgage and charitable deductions. But now, with Boehner’s blessing, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has a green light to pursue his priority issue.
Cheating the Future: These graphics detail the state-by-state, sector-by-sector impact of the automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts, known as sequestration.
Read more about the consequences of sequestration in our new report.
Becoming a Magnet for Global Talent
From 1900 to 2000, the U.S. became home to 47.2 million legal immigrants—far more than any other country. During the same period, the U.S. economy grew by nearly 25-fold, we won two World Wars and a Cold War, and our middle class became the envy of the world. Immigrants—whether it was Albert Einstein and Andrew Carnegie or millions of factory workers, farm workers, cooks, and construction workers—were a huge part of America’s 20th century success story.
Today, we are an increasingly service, knowledge, and innovation led economy. Even our manufacturing jobs require a great deal more skill because we do not make socks anymore—we make finely tuned, high-end products. To maintain our global dominance and strengthen our economy today, U.S. immigration policy must not only maintain its current levels of legal immigration, but it must also be restructured to attract foreign-born intellectual capital to facilitate innovation and job creation. In this report, we argue that immigration reform must be a central component of long-term U.S. economic growth.
Read more in our report: “Becoming a Magnet for Global Talent”
The Kindle, Amazon.com’s innovative e-reader, has revolutionized how people read newspapers, books, and magazines. Even though the concept was born in Silicon Valley, the Kindle is made in Taiwan. When looking for the manufacturing technology needed to build the e-reader, Amazon was forced to look abroad for experienced manufacturers because it was no longer available in the U.S. As a result, the U.S. lost out on producing one of the world’s leading e-readers.
How did this happen? Short sighted, poor policy decisions that have hindered the development of new era advanced manufacturing are partly to blame.
In Third Way & the Breakthrough Institute’s report, Manufacturing Growth, we argue that manufacturing isn’t dying, it’s changing. And it’s still vital to American job creation and prosperity.
The new manufacturing doesn’t take place on your father’s factory floor. Instead of operating a machine press, today’s manufacturing worker needs a variety of new skills to engage in high-tech processes in industries from aerospace to biotech. These activities create good jobs, drive innovation, and make an economy globally competitive. Other nations have robust pro-manufacturing policies, and as our report shows, it’s time for the U.S. to catch up.
READ: Manufacturing Growth
By Lanae Erickson Hatalsky and Sarah Trumble
No one says that the U.S. doesn’t produce enough lawyers. Today, almost 150,000 students are attending U.S. law schools. Almost all of them are Americans, and barely more than half will find jobs in their field here. Their supply exceeds our economy’s current demand. But the exact opposite is true for students of science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM).
This year, 40,000 computer science graduates will find 120,000 new and unfilled jobs waiting for them. Worse, many of those students are foreign born and barred by our current immigration policy from using their talents to meet this demand to help grow the U.S. economy. Consider that by 2009, according to the National Science Foundation, a full half of those graduating with a doctorate in computer science were foreign-born students here on a temporary visa. Although we clearly have an economic need for these graduates, and they’ve been educated here in the United States, we are currently sending these inventors and job creators home to compete with us in the global marketplace.
If companies can’t find qualified candidates to fill their jobs, they may be forced to move positions overseas. Luckily, there is an easy solution to this problem: Congress should pass a bill to allow highly-skilled immigrants studying science, technology, engineering, or math at an American university to stay here and earn green cards after graduation.
What Makes the Middle Class?
Did you happen to notice how, at both conventions, speaker after speaker talked about how much the party’s candidate would do for “the middle class”? “Unlike President Obama, I will not raise taxes on the middle class,” Mitt Romney said. President Obama promised “a future where we reduce our deficit without sticking it to the middle class.”
What exactly do Americans mean when they call themselves middle class? Just this: neither rich nor poor. That’s why middle class Americans support tax hikes for the rich. If they’re for the rich, I won’t have to pay them. That’s also why middle class Americans are suspicious of government programs to help the poor. If they’re for the poor, they won’t do me any good (and I may have to pay for them).
The Pew poll asked Americans what it takes to be in the middle class today. The top answer by far: a secure job. That’s why jobs are the number one issue this year. Without a secure job, you can’t be in the middle class. Fewer than half of Americans now say you have to own your own home to be in the middle class. The figure was much higher (70%) in 1991, when a similar question was asked. The collapse of home prices since 2006 has had a devastating impact. Owning a home is no longer seen as a guarantee of security.
Read more in Bill Schneider’s Inside Politics Newsletter - September 2012.
by Josh Freed
Last week, two next-generation battery manufacturers in the Boston area announced major investments from Chinese firms.
Yes, if your goal is to grow the Chinese economy. The deals for A123 Systems and Boston-Power will result in major technology transfers to China and likely lost American jobs. The deals are the result of a campaign by Tea Party Republicans to kill the U.S. clean energy industry in its cradle. That’s because the GOP Congressional leadership appears more interested in turning clean energy into a wedge issue than in having America win what energy market analysts see as a $2.3 trillion dollar global market within the next decade.
Don’t take our word for it.
In late 2011, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), chairman of a powerful House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, said the U.S. “can’t compete with China” on clean energy. Rep. Stearns was eventually forced to walk back this statement. But actions speak louder than words. His proposed “No More Solyndras Act” would not only end government support of emerging energy technologies, it is having a chilling effect on domestic private capital. That makes it difficult for promising American clean energy companies to secure funding. That’s a problem American workers and entrepreneurs are experiencing first hand.
Stearns and fellow Republicans moved quickly to bolster their attack on clean energy with a self-contradicting condemnation of A123’s announcement. Even at a time when politics is not known for having much regard for facts, the new salvos are stunningly illogical. In separate statements, the Republican National Committee and Stearns derided the government’s $249 million investment in A123 and called the company a failure in one breath, and then bemoaned the government’s failure to block the Chinese from gaining access to strategic American technology in the next.
Republicans can’t have it both ways. Either the company was a bad investment or it created valuable technological advances. The Chinese obviously think it was the latter, and think those technologies are worth $450 million.