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CEPR Update: December 2006

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CEPR Update: December 2006



General

CEPR: The Most Bang For Your Buck
CEPR's New Look

Domestic

Work-Family Series Completed
The Conservative Nanny State
Doughnut Hole Day & Medicare Part D 
2007 Economic Outlook
Workplace Rights
Living Wages
Save the SIPP Campaign Continues 

International

IDB Approves Debt Relief for Poorest Countries in Latin America
Economic Analysis and Background for Latin America’s Elections
Ecuador Wary of the “Shrinking Market”
Tracking Elections in Mexico
The Old European Jobs Machine Goes to Work
Latin America: The End of an Era
CEPR Travels Around the World
CEPR Work in Other Publications

Odds and Ends

 

General

CEPR: The Most Bang for Your Buck

The Center for Economic and Policy Research strengthened its claim as the country’s most cost-effective think tank, ranking first in 2005 in both the media citations per budget dollar and also web traffic per budget dollar. The number one ranking in media citations is a repeat from 2004, although the margin is considerably greater for 2005. CEPR had 60 percent more media citations per budget dollar than the Hoover Institution, its nearest competitor. In the category of web traffic per budget dollar, CEPR had a comfortable lead, with 90 percent more traffic per budget dollar than last year’s leader, the Center for American Progress. In both categories, the big budget think tanks (the Brookings Institution, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute) continue to dominate news coverage because of their size. However, on a per dollar basis, smaller think tanks appear to be far more effective.

CEPR’s New Look

After many months of hard work, CEPR launched its newly designed website on November 6th. The site offers several new features, including: a growing library of radio and audio files (see Multimedia); an issue-by-issue list of our publications and commentaries (see Issues); and an RSS feed that enables subscribers to automatically receive our latest reports and op-eds. Lynn Erskine, CEPR’s communications director, led the hardworking web transition team of Rozina Ali, Kathryn Bogel, Nihar Bhatt, and Rebecca Ray.

 

Domestic

Work-Family Series Completed

Our domestic team wrapped up Supporting Families, a five-part briefing series held on Capitol Hill to raise awareness challenges facing working families. The series explored the issues and offered concrete policy solutions. For our fourth Supporting Families briefing, CEPR was proud to host Ann Crittenden, award-winning journalist and author of If You've Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything and The Price of Motherhood. Ms. Crittenden challenged the notion that since motherhood is a choice, employers should have no obligation to accommodate employees with children. The final briefing, Opportunities for Policymakers to Make a Difference, hosted three influential speakers: Eileen Appelbaum, professor and director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University; Heidi Hartmann, director of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research; and Kate Kahan, director of Work and Family Programs at the National Partnership for Women and Families. Each speaker addressed a different vital policy opportunity: adopting the Work and Family Bill of Rights, passing the Healthy Families Act, and expanding the Family Medical Leave Act.

Following the presentations, staff from the eight co-sponsoring offices (Senators Obama, Clinton, Dodd, and Kennedy; and Representatives DeLauro, Maloney, Miller and Woolsey) highlighted their current work and family legislative priorities. Pictures and audio files from all of the events are available on our website.

The Conservative Nanny State

Dean Baker’s book, The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer, published in May, continues to garner attention. Reviews of the book were printed in the West Virginia Charleston Gazette, the Chicago Reader; an excerpt was printed in Dollars & Sense; and it even got a nod in an article from the New York Times. Dean has also given book talks in St. Louis and Washington, DC, and will give one in San Francisco in February. If you haven’t read it yet, the book is available as a free PDF or text file at www.conservativenannystate.org.

Doughnut Hole Day & Medicare Part D

This fall, millions of senior citizens found the nasty little secret that architects of the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan tried to hide. A financial “doughnut hole” was designed into the drug plan in order to save the government money—at the cost of individuals. The way the drug plan works is this: for the first $2,250 of prescription drug expenses, participants are only charged co-payments, but for the next $2,850 of prescription drug expenses, participants must pay all of the costs. This gap is the part of the plan referred to as the “doughnut hole.” If a participant still has expenses after that (more than $5,100 in yearly costs), the plan will cover 95 percent of subsequent costs. September 22 was projected to be the day that most seniors would begin to fall into the “doughnut hole” coverage gap, where they pay for 100% of their drug costs while still paying monthly premiums.  That day, thousands of meetings and demonstrations were planned across the country to raise awareness of the plan’s poor design. As part of this campaign, Dean Baker spoke at a community meeting in Champaign, IL, where he explained that the doughnut hole is an unnecessary burden to millions of senior citizens, and is only included because other inefficiencies were designed into Medicare Part D. CEPR’s report, "Waste in the Medicare Drug Benefit: Why the Doughnut Hole is Unnecessary" outlines the entire argument.

2007 Economic Outlook

Dean Baker was asked to write an economic outlook piece for the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, one of Germany’s oldest and most prestigious foundations. The article, entitled “Increasing Inequality in the United States ,” was distributed in mid-November to all Social Democratic (SPD) members in the German parliament. Dean also wrote a CEPR paper on his outlook for the U.S. economy, Recession Looms for U.S. Economy in 2007. It includes a foreboding forecast for 2007 (largely due to declining construction forecasts, as a result of the housing bubble that Dean has written about for the last few years).

Workplace Rights

Heather Boushey participated in Raising Profits and Potential, the 2006 National Employer Summit, sponsored by BPW Foundation and Georgetown University Law Center. Heather spoke in the “Workplace Equity Track” module, at the policy table, on the question: What is government’s role in supporting workplace equity efforts, in theory and in practice? What does this mean for employers and the workplace? 

Living Wages

Heather Boushey testified as an expert witness in favor of the living wage at St. Mary’s College of Maryland on October 23. At the time, the college was considering the implementation of a living wage for all campus employees. A student sit-in this September brought the  sub-par wages of campus employees to the attention of the college community. 

Save the SIPP Campaign Continues

The elimination of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) was named one of the top ten most censored stories of 2006 by Project Censored. The project, which is run by a media research group based in Sonoma State University, produces a list of 25 news stories each year that are overlooked, under-reported, or self-censored in the mainstream media. In their story about the SIPP (number four on their list), they explain that the elimination of the survey will create a knowledge deficit on the efficacy of the government’s social programs. The article highlights Heather Boushey and the rest of the staff at CEPR for spearheading the effort. Visit our website for more information on the progress to Save the SIPP.

In other SIPP news, Heather was invited to speak at the annual meeting of the Association of Public Data Users. The association specifically asked her to speak about her work on the SIPP, in particular because historically, data users submit to government-mandated changes to data sets. They were all impressed by the campaign that has temporarily saved the SIPP. Heather explained that, because of their knowledge of the surveys, data users have an important voice that can have a large impact.

 

International

IDB Approves Debt Relief for Poorest Countries in Latin America

CEPR provided research and conducted outreach that contributed significantly to the international effort to convince the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to cancel the debt of four heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) in Latin America, and to take steps for doing the same in Haiti. At their November 17 meeting, the IDB’s Board of Governors promised to cancel billions of dollars of debt from these countries. While falling short of IMF and World Bank debt relief promised in 2005, and with some important details yet to be decided, the IDB is now committed to enacting this unprecedented debt write-off.

Economic Analysis and Background for Latin America’s Elections

CEPR continued its series of research papers offering background and analysis on Latin American countries holding elections this year. We released papers on Brazil (September) and Ecuador (November) and provided analysis and commentary on closely watched presidential elections in Nicaragua (November) and Venezuela (upcoming in December) as well. CEPR’s analysis was widely read by correspondents covering these elections, and cited in major media, and CEPR staff appeared frequently in the media to discuss the issues involved, including several live interviews on BBC-TV World News, one of the largest TV News audiences in the world.

Ecuador Wary of the “Shrinking Market”

CEPR's background paper on Ecuador was used by several journalists and Co-Director Mark Weisbrot's op-eds appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Washingtonpost.com, and other publications. Indigenous groups opposed to the proposed "free trade" agreement with the U.S .adopted CEPR’s analysis of the projected decline in the U.S. import market as it will undergo necessary adjustments in the coming years (as described in CEPR's July paper, “A Shrinking Market: Projections for U.S. Imports”). 

Tracking Elections in Mexico

CEPR provided analysis of the vote count in Mexico's elections that showed that documented a massive "adding up" discrepancy in half of the polling stations. CEPR also pressed media to report on the Mexican government's refusal to disclose the results of a partial recount of 9 percent of the vote, and conducted a tally of its own from thousands of pages of government documents, showing that the parital recount indicated that Lopez Obrador gained a significant amount of votes from the recount and Calderon lost votes. CEPR's work on this issue was cited by media including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, as well as Mexican publications such as La Jornada and the magazine El Proceso

The Old European Jobs Machine Goes to Work

CEPR research done this fall by economists John Schmitt and Dean Baker showed that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Europe created jobs at a faster rate than the United States did from 2000-2005. The paper, “Old Europe Goes to Work,” released in September, attracted considerable attention from the international community. The President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, cited the paper in a recent piece he wrote for an online Spanish newspaper. The New York Times picked up on the topic as well, and wrote an article, “A Statistic that Shortens the Distance to Europe,” which drew largely from the report. 

Finally, Newsweek International wrote an article featuring both “Old Europe Goes to Work” and John’s related paper “Whatever Happened to the American Jobs Machine?” in an article from the November 20 issue of the magazine. The article’s title and subtitle, “The Great Job Machine: Despite its laggard reputation, Europe continues to grow faster, and create more jobs, than America,” tells the whole story in a nutshell, and is still being highlighted on Newsweek International’s online site

Latin America: The End of an Era

Mark Weisbrot was invited by the Inter-American Foundation to present his paper, Latin America: The End of An Era, and to engage in discussion with retired Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank official Jacques Kozub on the topic. The event was hosted by the Esquel Group and held at the IFES office. It was attended by representatives of NGOs, think tanks and government officials from USAID, the State Department and Inter-American Foundation. Representatives of foreign governments and the media were also present.

CEPR Travels Around the World

Currently, John Schmitt is attending a meeting and related conference sponsored by the Low-wage European Research Network (LoWER) in Annecy, France. John has worked with LoWER, a group of European economists and other social scientists focusing on low-wage employment in the European Union, since the late 1990s.

At the invitation of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, one of Germany’s oldest and most important foundations, Mark Weisbrot went to Germany in late October and presented his research to members of  the German parliament, as well as academics, think tank representatives, and members of the diplomatic community in Berlin.

John Schmitt spoke in Krakow, Poland, in early September at a conference on the future of Europe, organized by the European Parliament and the Polish Parliament. John presented an extension of his CEPR paper "Is the U.S. a Good Model for Reducing Social Exclusion in Europe?", co-authored with CEPR research assistant Ben Zipperer. Other speakers at the conference included the President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, and academics and politicians from across Europe.

CEPR Work in Other Publications

The Cambridge University Press will be publishing Dean Baker’s book, A History of the United States Since 1980 at the beginning of next year. The book is part of a series of national histories since 1980. Other countries include the U.K., Germany, and France.

“Scorecard for Development” was included as a chapter in Flat World, Big Gaps, a book edited by Jomo K.S., Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development in the United Nations' Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

“Getting the Numbers Right: Poverty Rates in Venezuela” by Mark Weisbrot, Luis Sandoval, and David Rosnick was published in the International Journal of Health Services.

The journal will also publish the article, "Latin America: the End of An Era," by Mark Weisbrot, in their forthcoming issue.

 

Odds and Ends

Dean Baker gave a lecture on artistic freedom vouchers, “Beyond Copyright: Supporting Creative Work in the Internet Age,” at Stanford University on November 16th.

Heather Boushey was invited by the Fiscal Policy Institute to join them in a meeting with staffers from Mayor Bloomberg’s office to discuss research from the Bridging the Gaps project and proposed anti-poverty measures. 

In mid-October, Heather Boushey gave two talks in Chicago on the myth of women opting out of the workforce—one at the Roosevelt Institution at the University of Chicago, and the second at the Council on Contemporary Families’ 2006 Symposium: Who Cares? Dilemmas of Work and Family in the 21st Century.