Today's News and Commentary – September 19

Published September 19th, 2013 -  - 09.19.131


Building on yesterday’s coverage of the employed homeless, the New York Times reports that “despite . . . soaring corporate profits[,] . . . income for he typical American household did not rise in 2012 and poverty failed to fall” according to the Census Bureau.  Overall, these data reveal that today’s median household income is no higher than it was in 1980s, adjusted for inflation.  Median household income has actually declined since 1999.  As the Times states, this report “underscores that the economic recovery has largely failed to reach the poor and the middle class.” In reaction the same data, the Los Angeles Times reports that poverty is rising in the L.A. area, “long after the declared end of the recession.”

Similarly, the Washington Post reports that the difference in the unemployment rate between the rich and the poor is at the highest it has been in a decade.  For U.S. households earning below $20,000, the unemployment rate is at 21 percent, whereas households earning above $150,000 have an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent.

In a move that might bring more transparency to economic inequality, the SEC proposed a rule that would require public companies to disclose their CEO-Employee pay gap, according to the Washington Post.  The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act called for such a rule.  Business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, oppose the rule, arguing that it’s a publicity stunt that could hurt U.S. companies because it will require time and money for companies to gather that information.

In D.C., the Washington Post reports that several high-powered Democratic women are gathering to “launch an ambitious new effort aimed at making women’s economic prosperity” a major political issue.  The new initiative is called “Fair Shot: A Plan for Women and Families to Get Ahead” and is convened by the Neera Tanden, the president of the liberal Center for American Progress.  The initiative includes politicians, leaders from women’s rights groups, and leaders from labor unions such as the SEIU. 

Striking a similar note, Nancy Folbre, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, writes an analysis in the New York Times of how the “federal tax code and Social Security both contain provisions that subsidize marriage on spouse refrains from paid employment.”  She notes that scholars have long criticized this phenomenon, because it “discourage[s] married women’s participation in the labor force” and at the same time, does “little or nothing to encourage marriage in low-income families.”

 In New York, the New York Times reminds us that Mets Pitcher Matt Harvey is an employee like any other: workers’ compensation will pay for much of his Tommy John surgery.  Major League Baseball “has a single workers’ compensation policy” that covers the employees of all teams, including players.  Previously, all teams handled their own insurance, which was more costly than the current industry-wide insurance policy, according to the Times.

Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for SDNY, announced a new initiative to ensure that politicians convicted of corruption lose their publicly financed pensions, the New York Times reports.  Mr. Bharara detailed this new initiative in testimony before Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption. 

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