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CEPR News September 2011

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Monday, 03 October 2011 08:45

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

CEPR on Social Security

While Social Security was spared during the latest round of budget negotiations, those who want to cut Social Security continue to assert their fallacious claims about the program’s solvency. CEPR provided Social Security allies with additional ammunition in September, releasing three papers on Social Security.

The Impact of Cutting Social Security Cost of Living Adjustments on the Living Standards of the Elderly,” by CEPR Co-director Dean Baker and Economist David Rosnick, looks at similar changes in the past and finds that workers would likely not be able to raise their savings in response to lowering the measure of inflation used to calculate cost of living adjustments for Social Security benefits (a change that was proposed by President Obama during the debt ceiling negotiations), leading to significantly reduced living standards of retirees.

Who's Above the Social Security Payroll Tax Cut?” by CEPR Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo, Research Assistant Janelle Jones, and Senior Economist John Schmitt examines the most recent Census Bureau data available from the American Community Survey to determine how raising the cap would affect workers based on gender, race or ethnicity, age, and state of residence. Raising the cap from its current level of $106,800 to a new level of $250,000 would affect only a small share of workers, but would strengthen the program and avoid increases in contributions from the middle-class and the poor.

In "The Social Security Benefits of Sitting Senators Revisited," CEPR Program Assistant Kris Warner, Domestic Communications Coordinator Alan Barber and Dean Baker updated CEPR'sprevious paper (incorporating the newest CBO projections) to show the scheduled Social Security benefit for each current member of the Senate. As CEPR’s Congressional Social Security Accuracy Campaign has shown, many members of Congress (and some presidential candidates) need a refresher course on Social Security. In the month of September, Dean Baker sent letters to Senator Saxby Chambliss and Representatives Paul Ryan and Mike Coffman, correcting misstatements they made about the program.

Dean’s August letter to Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry was mentioned in the New York Times’ “The Caucus” blog. His letter to Representative Ryan was reprinted in the Madison Capital Times, and an earlier letter to Senator Marco Rubio was reprinted in the Palm Beach Post. Since February 2011, 31 members of Congress and two Republican presidential candidates have received similar letters.

CEPR Debates the IMF
CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot debated Luc Everaert, Assistant Director for the European Department, IMF. This debate, which took place Sept. 24, 2011, provides a critical overview of the eurozone crisis. It is perhaps most remarkable in that Weisbrot offers a harsh critique of the policies that have been implemented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its partner European authorities (the European Commission and the European Central Bank) — an argument he also made recently in a column in The Guardian — and Everaert of the IMF does not offer much disagreement. “I also agree with Mark’s diagnosis of the problem. I think the problem is a policy failure,” Everaert admits at the beginning of his presentation.

The two economists differ on the solution to the eurozone’s current problems. While Weisbrot proposes that fiscal and monetary policies can be used to stimulate struggling eurozone economies, such as in Greece, Everaert warns of the dangers of inflation. You can watch the debate here.

CEPR on Jobs
CEPR staff weighed in on President Obama’s jobs speech, analyzing the administration’s plan and providing viable solutions to the nation’s continuing unemployment crisis. CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum penned this article for Truthout critiquing the much-touted Georgia Works program. Dean Baker offered his take on the president’s plan in this New Republic piece. Dean also offered the keys to rebuilding middle class jobs in this piece for the New York Times’ Room for Debate feature. And USA Today quoted Dean on "work sharing" as one solution to the jobs crisis in a story on job creation.

CEPR took to the airwaves as well. Dean debated the merits of the Republican’s jobs plan on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, while John Schmitt outlined some lessons the U.S. can learn from Denmark in this interview that aired on NPR’s KUOW.

With the release of new poverty numbers showing that the number of people in poverty now is the highest since poverty estimates were first published over fifty years ago, CEPR’s Senior Research Associate Shawn Fremstad released an issue brief titled “Talking About Poverty in a Jobs and Economy Framework.” Shawn points out that most Americans view the jobs crisis as a much bigger problem than poverty. Since the poverty rate is largely determined by job availability and job quality, Shawn argues that poverty might be best understood within a jobs and economy framework. The paper makes several recommendations for doing this. Shawn discussed the paper and the poverty numbers in this interview that aired on KPCC.

Eileen Applebaum co-authored (with Carrie Leana) a paper on direct care workers - an occupation that is projected to grow rapidly over the next few decades, and one that has been historically low-wage. “Improving Job Quality: Direct Care Workers in the U.S.” looks at strategies for improving management practices and job quality in the care work sector.

CEPR on Haiti
CEPR’s recent paper on the cholera epidemic in Haiti, “Not Doing Enough: Unnecessary Sickness and Death from Cholera in Haiti” by CEPR Research Assistant Jake Johnston and former CEPR intern Keane Bhatt, continues to gain attention from the press. CEPR briefed the New York Times editorial board on the cholera situation, leading to an editorial entitled “Haiti’s Needless Cholera Deaths,” which echoed many of CEPR’s main recommendations. Mark Weisbrot followed up with this op-ed, and soon afterwards the Washington Post published an editorial arguing for the use of vaccines to treat cholera in Haiti. The report also led to renewed media interest in the cholera epidemic and was cited in the Miami Herald among other publications.

Mark Weisbrot participated in the 41st Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference. The conference, which focused on Haiti, was held on September 21 –22. Mark’s was part of a panel discussion titled “Haiti: A New Beginning.”

The End of Loser Liberalism Now in Paperback
Dean Baker’s new book, The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive, is now available for purchase in paperback (at cost), as well as in Kindle, NOOK, and pdf format (for free).  It was featured on firedoglake’s Book Salon on September 18th and was also profiled in this article that appeared in the IPS (Inter Press Service) News. And in response to numerous requests, the poster boy for Loser Liberalism (aka Biscuit) now has his own bio.

CEPR on the Road and In the News
Dean spent much of September on the road for CEPR. He was invited to speak in Brussels by The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung as one of a selected group of international experts and policy makers to explore links between alternative economic models and new priorities for a progressive public finance policy. As part of the conference, Dean took part in a panel discussion titled "Taxation and Fiscal Policy: Public Money for Public Goods? How to Strengthen the State." Dean then flew to Chicago, where he presented the 18th Annual Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Distinguished Lecture, "The Great Recession: How We Got Here and Prospects for Recovery" at the Center for New Deal Studies at Roosevelt University. You can read more about his lecture here.

CEPR was well represented at the recent Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)conference that was held in Milwaukee from September 12 - 14. Nicole Woo, John Schmitt, and Dean Baker made the trip to Wisconsin for EARN’s annual meeting. John moderated the panel that included Nicole’s presentation on CEPR’s paper “Diversity and Change: Asian American and Pacific Islander Workers.” Dean participated in several panels and a plenary session, including "Fighting the Attack on the Public Sector," "Fighting Foreclosure and Beyond," "Unemployment Insurance: A Tool for Job Preservation, Income Support, & Economic Stimulus," and "Retirement Security."

Dean then toured Wisconsin to headline events on the economy, financial speculation taxes and the misinformation behind the deficit. The events, themed “Money Makes the World Go Around,” were held on September 14th in Milwaukee, and on September 15th in La Crosse and Eau Claire. They were sponsored by the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Center for Economic Development; Wisconsin Voices; Institute for Wisconsin’s Future; American Federation of Teachers - 212; Citizen Action of WI; Partnership for Working Families; We Are Milwaukee- We Are WI; WISDOM; SEIU; and Wisconsin AFL-CIO.

Mark Weisbrot spent the morning at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he participated in a panel discussion on developing economies as part of a larger conference titled "Capitalism on Trial: A Conference in Honor of Thomas E. Weisskopf," running Sept. 30 to Oct. 1. Mark discussed issues in developing economies. Mark traveled to Cambridge MA earlier in the month to talk about his chapter in the recent book of essays The Revolution in Venezuela: Social and Political Change Under Chávez (Series on Latin American Studies). The event, titled "The Andes Initiative Presents: Panel on 'The Revolution in Venezuela,'" was held on September 15th.

And, in case you missed it, Dean was on CNBC’s Kudlow Report talking about the Fed. He was also on RT’s Aloyna Show, talking about Obama’s deficit reduction plan.

CEPR in the CFC
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