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CEPR News April 2011

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Friday, 29 April 2011 14:45

The following highlights CEPR's latest research, publications, events and much more.

CEPR on Budgets, Compromises and Cuts
With the budget talks dominating the media this past month, CEPR worked overtime to counter misleading claims from the deficit hawk crowd. As CEPR Co-Director Dean Baker said in this op-ed on CNN.com, the focus should be on jobs, not the deficit. Dean took particular issue with the “courageous” Paul Ryan’s budget plan. CEPR published two papers on the Ryan plan.  The first clearly demonstrates how the Medicare portion of the plan shifts rising costs to beneficiaries. According to Dean, “Ballooning health care costs continue to be the main source of the rise in future deficits. The Ryan plan does nothing to address the projected explosion in health care costs. Instead it just shifts the burden of these costs more squarely on the shoulders of seniors.”

The most recent paper, “Representative Ryan’s $30 Trillion Medicare Waste Tax”, takes the analysis one step further to show that the Ryan proposal will increase health care costs for seniors by more than seven dollars for every dollar it saves the government, a point missing from much of the debate over the plan. The paper was mentioned in this article in The Progressive and in this post on Talking Points Memo.

Dean discussed the Ryan plan with Rachel Maddow and the Real News, authoredseveral columns on the plan, and was quoted in several news articles and blogs, including this one by Paul Krugman.

Dean also weighed in on President Obama’s budget plan, here in a CEPR press release, here in the New York Times’ Op-Ed section “Room for Debate”, here in the Wall Street Journal online and here on the Rachel Maddow show, where Dean re-iterated that all the talk of deficit reduction ignores the current problem of 25 million people under- or unemployed. Dean also appeared on the Diane Rehm Show where he discussed these issues as well as the debate over raising the debt ceiling.

CEPR went on the road to discuss the deficit as well. On April 15th, Dean took part in a conference titled "Debts, Deficits and the Economy” sponsored by The Maxwell School Dean's Office and Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University.  Other panelists included Bruce Bartlett, a columnist for the Fiscal Times; Leonard Burman, former director of the Tax Policy Center; John Palmer, former public trustee for Medicare and Social Security; and Susan Tanaka, vice president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

And on April 27th, Dean traveled to Charlottesville, VA to participate in a conference on “The Politics of the Nation’s Debt”. Sponsored by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, the conference also featured former Senator Alan Simpson, co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, and David Walker, President of the Comeback America Initiative and former head of the GAO. You can watch Dean lecture the panel on the real cause of the deficit here (hint: it’s not Social Security).

Scorecard on Development and the IMF
CEPR’s latest international release, “The Scorecard on Development 1960-2010: Closing the Gap?”, by CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot and CEPR Research Associate Rebecca Ray, is the third in a series of CEPR’s most widely-cited reports on the global economy (the first and second editions were in 2001 and 2005). The series has documented the slowdown in growth of income per person, life expectancy, mortality, literacy, and education in the period since 1980, compared with the 1960-1980 period. The latest study shows a rebound in economic growth following the more than two decades of historic economic failure for the vast majority of low- and middle-income countries – a period of failure roughly corresponding with the prevalence of neoliberal economic policies.

Co-author Rebecca Ray penned this CEPR blog post on the Scorecard, and the paper was featured in this article in The Guardian (UK). On April 15th, Mark Weisbrot and Jomo K.S., Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development in the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), discussed the paper and the possible reasons for this rebound, its potential sustainability, and implications for policy. Click here to see a video of the event. As with the 2005 Scorecard, under Jomo’s leadership, UNDESA will republish the new Scorecard, which in turn will get it out to a wider audience.

The event, and the Scorecard’s release, were timed to coincide with the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as the Scorecard provides crucial criteria to evaluate the impacts of policies these institutions have promoted over the past three decades. Mark also critiqued the IMF and World Bank in a Guardian column, in this article and in interviews with Russia Today.

CEPR on Social Security
April was also a busy month for CEPR’s Social Security Monitor, with six members of Congress earning letters from Dean Baker after they made false statements about Social Security. As part of CEPR’s Congressional Accuracy Letter Writing Campaign, Dean sent letters to the offices of Senator Mike Enzi (R-MT), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Mark Warner (R-VA), Representative Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), correcting misstatements they made about Social Security in the media. (Senator Coburn misspoke twice, so he received two letters).

Representative Huizenga responded to Dean's letter, restating his mischaracterization of the Socaial Security program. Dean set him straight, again, here.

Dean also wrote a blog post asking “Why Do Real Men Want to Cut Social Security”, and continued his ongoing efforts to set the record straight on Social Security through CEPR’s Beat the Press, including two posts on columns by the Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson (here and here).

Developments in Haiti
As reported in CEPR’s Haiti:Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog, fifty-three Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton underscoring the gross inadequacy of relief efforts of USAID,  International Organization of Migration (IOM) and other aid organizations in Haiti’s camps for the internally displaced (IDPs).

Co-sponsored by Representatives Yvette Clarke (NY), Donald Payne (NJ) and Frederica Wilson (FL), the letter urges the administration to focus its attention on the deteriorating situation in the camps, in particular the lack of water, sanitation and other basic services; the increase in gender-based violence; and the frequent occurrence of forced evictions of camp residents. The letter was largely inspired by a Congressional briefing on conditions in IDP camps that CEPR, together with TransAfrica Forum, helped organize early last month.  Many of the points that the letter makes – for instance regarding the fact that an increasing number of IDPs have been forced to leave camps and live in even more precarious shelter – have been raised previously on CEPR’s Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog.  

In other Haiti news, Mark Weisbrot examined what should be a major corruption scandal involving a former USAID official who offered to use his influence to steer reconstruction contracts to companies in exchange for kickbacks, in this recent Guardian column.

CEPR and the Haiti blog also continue to monitor the outcomes of the Haitian presidential and legislative elections. Click here to read the latest.

Ha-Joon Chang’s 23 Things
CEPR Senior Research Associate Ha-Joon Chang’s latest book, 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism, continues to receive media attention. It was featured on firedoglake’s Book Salon on April 24th, and The Real News has conducted a multi-part interview with Ha-Joon examining each of the book’s “23 Things” in turn…click here to view the segments available so far.

Upcoming Events on Paid Family Leave in California
CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum and Ruth Milkman, professor of sociology at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center and academic director of CUNY's Murphy Labor Institute, will travel to California to discuss their widely acclaimed paper “Leaves That Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences With Paid Family Leave in California” at two events in May. The first will be held on May 6th at UC Berkeley. The event, sponsored by The Labor Project for Working Families, Berkeley Law and the Berkley Center on Health, Economic and Family Security will include a discussion with the authors about the study and opportunities for the future. More information can be found here.

The following day Eileen and Ruth will be in Los Angeles at the UCLA Labor Center. The Labor Project for Working Families and the UCLA Labor Center will sponsor a discussion with the authors, which will include comments by leaders of worker centers and union activists. Click here for more information.

Eileen and Lonnie Golden penned an op-ed on paid sick days that appeared in today's Philadelphia Business Journal. (Lonnie Golden is a professor of economics and labor studies at Penn State Abington.)

Latin America in the Obama Years: U.S. Intervention, Policy and Progress
CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot will be in Milwaukee on Monday, May 2 to take part in a panel discussion on Latin America and U.S. policy toward the region. The event, which will be held at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Union at 7PM, is sponsored by the Latin America Solidarity Committee Milwaukee; Progressive Students of Milwaukee; and Peace Action Wisconsin, www.peaceactionwi.org. For more information, call 414-507-3745.
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