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EconomicPolicyInstitute April 13, 2012

On Wednesday, EPI hosted the forum, “A closer look at Apple and Foxconn: Labor practices in China and Brazil.”  Five distinguished panelists led a discussion about labor practices at the Foxconn factories that manufacture Apple products and evaluated Apple’s recent labor rights pledges in light of the company’s track record.

Commencing the forum, EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey explained why holding Apple to high labor standards could have a positive effect among other major companies. “As the world leader in consumer electronics, technology, and marketing, Apple could also be the world leader in how it treats its workforce,” said Eisenbrey.

Click here for more information on the topic, to learn about the presenters, and to watch footage from the event.

Ryan’s plan to slash Medicaid would cost jobs in every state

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget for fiscal year 2013 proposes massive cuts to the non-retirement safety net in the next decade, including cuts to Medicaid that total $544 billion over the next five years. In Medicaid cuts in Ryan budget would cost jobs in every state, EPI senior federal budget policy analyst Ethan Pollack documents how these cuts would weaken the economy, cost 862,000 jobs in 2014, and continue to drag on job growth in later years. These job losses would be mostly in the private sector and would affect every state.

Explaining the devastating effects Ryan’s plan would yield, Pollack said, “These cuts would overwhelmingly fall on the most vulnerable members of our society, who are unable to bear the brunt of deficit reduction. They would also greatly weaken the economy, immediately reduce employment, and impede recovery.”

Buffett Rule needed to restore tax fairness

With Tax Tuesday only a few days away, President Obama is again calling on Congress to implement the Buffett Rule, the principle that millionaires should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than what is paid by middle-class families. In short, the key element of tax fairness embodied by the Buffett Rule is that effective tax rates should rise with income. This week’s Economic Snapshot uses IRS data to show that average effective income tax rates actually start falling at income levels above $2 million because of the preferential tax treatment of capital gains and dividends.

EPI across town

EPI federal budget policy analyst Rebecca Thiess joined the Americans for Democratic Action Education Fund and the Congressional Progressive Caucus for the forum “Tax Equity: Paying Fair—A Tax Justice Summit.”

In a panel discussion moderated by John Nichols of The Nation magazine, Thiess and other tax reform experts discussed a number of possible changes to the tax code, including the Buffett Rule. The panelists also discussed the lower tax rate on investment income versus earned income, the characterization of high-end salaries as investment income, offshore tax avoidance schemes, corporate tax loopholes, and the income cap on Social Security contributions. Watch footage from the panel here.

EPI in the news

“What distinguishes this jobs recovery from others is the sheer scale of the job loss that preceded it. The economy has regained 3.6 million jobs since employment hit bottom in February 2010, but it is still missing nearly 10 million jobs — 5.2 million lost in the recession and 4.7 million needed to employ new entrants to the labor market. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that at the average rate of job creation in the last three months, it would take until the end of 2017, fully 10 years from the start of the Great Recession in December 2007, to return to the prerecession jobless rate of 5 percent.”

  • Speaking to Washington Post business reporter Peter Whoriskey, EPI President Lawrence Mishel emphasized the immediate positive impact policymakers could have on the labor market and economy through stimulus spending on infrastructure projects. “We need to have more job openings and more jobs in every sector,” said Mishel. “And a wide array of policies can make that happen,” such as infrastructure spending on roads, bridges, and railroads.
  • During a recent appearance on “Up with Chris Hayes,” noted food columnist Mark Bittman of the New York Times highlighted the extreme disconnect between the conservative claim that regulations hinder job creation and the job-destroying policies conservatives all too often promote. He subsequently cited EPI’s research to bolster his assertion in his blog post, “Live from the cutting room floor.”

“I am really annoyed about the ‘this costs jobs’ nonsense [analysis from the Economic Policy Institute’s Regulations are not a significant threat to job creation], which is simply a line Republicans dredge up when they don’t like something. They’re not complaining about Apple doing all its manufacturing in China, and they don’t make noise when auto workers are laid off, and they certainly don’t care when budget cuts reduce the number of ag[agriculture] inspectors or administrators in the SNAP program. They only kvetch about job losses when it suits them politically.”

  • New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse cited EPI’s research to stress the many positive effects raising the federal minimum wage would have for workers and the economy. He wrote, “Analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning research organization, suggests that raising the federal minimum wage to $9.80 would lift pay for more than 28 million Americans, increase the gross domestic product by more than $25 billion and create the equivalent of more than 100,000 full-time jobs.”
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