Civil Rights News: Jobs, Lifeline, Obamacare

Compiled by Tatyana Walker, a Fall 2013 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern

Give Jobs a Chance (Opinion)
Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Paul Krugman, the Noble Prize-winning op-ed columnist and American economist, argues that now is not the time to do anything that will tighten monetary policies. In the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee meeting, the group is expected to announce a “taper,” which slows down the pace of purchasing long-term assets. Krugman suggests that the Fed should not follow through with the taper because it will bring purchasing “to a complete halt by sometime next year” without any boost to the economy. Although there is no certainty of which direction the Fed should go, “the costs of being too harsh vastly exceed the costs of being too lenient,” and it is not wise to focus on hypothetical risks of economic damage. Krugman’s overall message is “don’t do it. Don’t taper, don’t tighten, until you can see the whites of inflation’s eyes. Give jobs a chance.”

Lifelines for Poor Children (Opinion)
James J. Heckman
The New York Times

Economist James J. Heckman suggests that investing in effective early childhood development programs from birth to age five will reduce economic inequalities and highlight effective education for all, regardless of economic status. Heckman explains that the current programs are not effective because they are not starting early enough nor do they provide students with skills that are most important in “personal and societal prosperity.” Heckman further explains that skills produce skills; therefore, educational opportunities should begin at birth. Improving the “early environments of disadvantaged children is a promising way to reduce inequality,” essentially acting as economic and social equalizers. “President Obama has proposed an early childhood initiative that combines family visitation, infant health and development, early learning, quality child care and more effective preschooling at ages 4 and 5.” According to Heckman this is an important initiative in deciding “whether to choose knowledge over conventional wisdom.” The answer is simple: “There is no trade-off between equity and efficiency, as there is for other social programs. Early investment in the lives of disadvantaged children will help reduce inequality, in both the short and the long run.”

The Congressional Fight over Obamacare, Part 341
Ed O’Keefe
The Washington Post

According to the congressional calendar, the House will begin debates on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Republican leaders in the House are pushing provisions to the Act that will cut off funding. At the same time the bill under consideration in the Senate “would improve building codes, provide financial incentives for using energy-efficient products, and provide federal funding for the research and development of new energy-efficient technology.” Republican Senators hope to amend the bill to postpone or cut funding for the health-care Act. In response, Democratic aides are working on amendments “that would limit government contributions to a lawmaker buying health insurance if there is ‘probable cause’ that they solicited prostitutes.”