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Matt Sedlar



Articles by Matt Sedlar

Pandemic-Caused Plunge in Restaurant Jobs Leads to First Job Loss Since April

11 days ago

The pain from the recession is heavily concentrated among the long-term unemployed.
The economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, all of which can be attributed to a plunge in restaurant employment of 372,000. Other sectors highly sensitive to the pandemic, such as hotels and recreation, also lost jobs. The unemployment rate and employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) were both unchanged at 6.7 percent and 57.4 percent, respectively.
The resurgence of the pandemic further heightened the two-track nature of this recession. Construction and manufacturing, two sectors normally hard hit in downturns, added 51,000 and 38,000 jobs, respectively. Employment in construction now stands 3.0 percent below its pre-pandemic level, while employment in manufacturing is 4.2 percent lower. Finance and insurance

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Why Partisanship Will Increase in the Post-Trump Era

15 days ago

MarketWatch
See article on original site
Many are hoping that when Trump — one of the most divisive US presidents in the past century or more — leaves office, the historically elevated levels of partisanship in US politics will at least begin to subside. But the opposite is vastly more likely.
There are short- and intermediate-run, as well as long-run, reasons for this result that have little to do with the Trump phenomenon. Most importantly and immediately, there is a gigantic and increasingly unbridgeable divide on economic policy. And the outcome of this ongoing fight will have an enormous impact on the lives and livelihoods of most Americans.
First and foremost, there is fiscal policy: the federal government’s use of spending and taxation, in this case to facilitate an economic

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COVID Relief Payments Draw an Unfair Line Between Deserving and Undeserving Family Dependency

28 days ago

The COVID Relief legislation passed by Congress last night includes a one-time $600 per person payment, but prohibits several groups from receiving it, including 17 and 18 year olds claimed as dependents (typically on their parents’ tax returns), students age 19–23 claimed as dependents, and adults of any age with disabilities who are claimed as dependents. As the table below shows, there were about 17.5 million tax dependents in these excluded categories in 2019. 
Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, a conservative estimate of poverty that takes certain in-kind benefits, like SNAP and taxes into account, some 2 million excluded dependents lived in families with income below the poverty line. (The People’s Policy Project has produced similar estimates, including by disposable income

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A Tale of Two Elections

28 days ago

RawStory
AlterNet, December 22, 2020
See article on original site
In recent weeks, Donald Trump has been ridiculed, slathered with contempt, and repeatedly branded a “liar,” as well as an existential threat to democracy in the United States, by the biggest media outlets in the country. This is in response to his attempts to reverse the results of the US presidential election, and claiming — without evidence — that it was stolen. He still clings to these allegations, but he will be leaving the White House on January 20th.
But just over a year ago, a similar effort was launched in Bolivia, and it actually prevailed. The country’s democratically elected president, Evo Morales, was toppled three weeks after the October 20 vote, before his term was finished. He left the country after the

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Time to End Patent Monopolies

29 days ago

Democracy
See article on original site

For several years the opioid crisis has been recognized as a major national catastrophe. Millions of people have become addicted to the new generation of opioid drugs. In many cases, this addiction has led to the destruction of families, job loss, crime, and suicide. At the peak of the crisis in West Virginia, the hardest hit state, the death rate from overdoses alone, was more than 41 people per 100,000. This is more than 70 percent of its fatality rate from the pandemic, as of mid-December. And this doesn’t count deaths due to crime or opioid-related health conditions. Opioids are a big part of the story of the state’s drop in life expectancy over the last quarter century.
The crisis did not just happen by chance. As we now know, drug manufacturers

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A Surprise Ending for Surprise Billing?

December 16, 2020

The American Prospect
See article on original site

Late last Friday, bipartisan, bicameral No Surprises legislation to rein in surprise medical bills was introduced, to the surprise of nearly everyone.
After similar legislation was derailed almost exactly a year ago, Congress looks serious this time. The deal has the support of four powerful congressional committees: the House Energy and Commerce, Education and Labor, and Ways and Means Committees, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
The proposed legislation is designed to stop patients from being billed exorbitant fees by medical providers that are not in their insurance networks. Patients often go to a hospital that is in their network and, once there, get treated by a doctor who is not. It is most prevalent

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The Mail Must Go Through

December 16, 2020

Marietta Daily Journal
ArcaMax, December 16, 2020
Lancaster Online, December 16, 2020
The Daily World (Everett, WA), December 16, 2020
See article on original site
As a public service, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has provided a significant boost to the nation’s prosperity and well-being. A strong postal service is essential under the current threats of a pandemic and an economic recession.
The USPS is in financial trouble for no reason other than the Congress decreed that it should be so. The president’s role has been to install a Postmaster-General, one Louis DeJoy, to administer the coup de grâce.
In 2006 the Congress enacted the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, requiring the service to pre-fund its employee pensions and retirement health care insurance with

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The Absence of Universal Social Protections in the United States Harms Black Men

December 16, 2020

In a recent post, researchers at the Brookings Institute noted that “[o]n many social and economic measures, Black men fare worse not only than white men, but white and Black women.” They argue that what is needed is “a battery of specifically tailored policy interventions: a New Deal for Black Men, no less,” and explain the “elements of this New Deal will likely consist of intentional policymaking in the fields of education and training, the labor market, family policy (especially for fathers), criminal justice reform, and tackling concentrated poverty.”
“Specifically tailored” policies in these areas are essential, but they are not enough. Black men in the United States are disadvantaged by the piecemeal and fragmented design of the American social state. The absence of universal social

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Mitch McConnell’s Sudden Interest in Independent Agencies

December 11, 2020

The American Prospect
See article on original site
It’s December, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still dodging calls to explicitly acknowledge that President Trump lost the election. It’s clear, however, that he knows who the next president will be. True to form, he’s working hard to undermine Joe Biden by confirming Trump’s nominees to independent agencies in the final days. This could shut down Biden’s ability to influence critical agencies’ composition for months, if not years, with severe consequences for regulatory enforcement and new rulemaking.
As the Revolving Door Project has thoroughly documented, during the Trump presidency, seats on independent agency boards have been routinely left open for months and years at a time. Leaders at independent agencies who are

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Want Vaccines Fast? Suspend Intellectual Property Rights

December 7, 2020

The New York Times
See article on original site

As some reports would have it, this is the beginning of the end. Three coronavirus vaccines have posted excellent results, with more expected to come.
But this is not the beginning of the end; it is only the beginning of an endless wait: There aren’t enough vaccines to go around in the richest countries on earth, let alone the poorest ones.
That’s why it makes little sense that the United States, Britain and the European Union, among others, are blocking a proposal at the World Trade Organization that would allow them, and the rest of the world, to get more of the vaccines and treatments we all need.
The proposal, put forward by India and South Africa in October, calls on the W.T.O. to exempt member countries from enforcing some patents,

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PREVIEW: What to Look for in the November Jobs Report

December 2, 2020

(The monthly Employment Situation is scheduled for release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, December 4th at 8:30 AM Eastern Time.)
The resurgence of the pandemic is likely to be the biggest factor driving labor market performance in November, especially in a context where most of the CARES Act supports have ended. We are likely to see weak, if any, job growth for the month as the areas most affected by the spread, such as restaurants and hotels, face weaker demand and/or legal restrictions. 
Long-Term Unemployment 
We have seen a sharp upward surge in long-term unemployment (more than 26 weeks), as many of the people who were laid off during the shutdowns have not been reemployed. Long-term unemployment always rises in a downturn, but the increase in the share of long-term

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Passivity is a Bad Political Strategy

December 1, 2020

The Free-Lance Star, November 21, 2020
Inside Sources, November 21, 2020
See article on original site
In the aftermath of the election earlier this month, Democrats are in finger-pointing mode. While the party succeeded in ousting Donald Trump from the White House, its performance in down-ballot races was disappointing.
Contrary to the predictions of the pundits and the pollsters, the Democrats not only failed to take back the Senate, they just barely hung on to the House—where they lost seats.
The Republicans also gained ground at the statehouse level, where at least two state legislative chambers flipped to the GOP.
Centrists are blaming progressives’ allegedly extremist views for the party’s lackluster showing, while Democrats ranging from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Sen. Doug

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Another Slow Recovery from Economic Disaster

November 30, 2020

Intereconomics, Volume 55, 2020 · Number 6
See article on original site

The lesson learned from the Great Recession was that the initial stimulus was far too small. The subsequent austerity during the recovery directly obstructed a return to full employment. There had been hopes that a Biden administration would quickly implement an aggressive stimulus. In addition to measures to control the pandemic, the hoped-for stimulus would also include a large clean energy component and major expenditures on childcare and health care.
Given the outcome of the elections, there seems little hope for the amount of stimulus the economy needs. The Republicans are likely to maintain control of the Senate, although two January run-offs still provide some hope for the Democrats. This means that Majority

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On All Fronts at Once

November 24, 2020

Democracy, Winter, No. 59
See article on original site
Joe Biden is already up against the clock. Amid overlapping public health, economic, racial justice, and climate crises, failure to act and act fast will translate into lives lost, deeper economic pain, and a hastening climate catastrophe. To make matters more dire, it’s looking like the Senate will be a formidable, though not necessarily insurmountable, roadblock.
It is, therefore, essential that the Biden Administration be prepared to capitalize on the momentum that propelled it into office. But even the strongest White House team will not be able to tightly manage all components of this policy onslaught on the timeline required. To succeed, the Biden Administration must embrace creative, sometimes unusual strategies, push many

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Joe Biden Must Not Look for Unity in Mitch McConnell’s Obstruction

November 24, 2020

The American Prospect
See article on original site
Last week, Mitch McConnell chose to fan the flames of baseless electoral conspiracy rather than acknowledge Joe Biden’s indisputable victory. Meanwhile, prominent Democrats took to the airwaves to insist that working with McConnell would not be nearly as hard as people claimed. This is dangerous, wishful thinking.
We fear, however, that even those who have removed the rose-colored glasses may not be prepared for the level of obstruction that the Biden administration will face if Democrats don’t pick up both Georgia Senate seats. One needs to look at only a single example to understand how bad it could be. No, not Merrick Garland, though that is apt. McConnell’s refusal to hold a vote to confirm nominees to an obscure but important

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GSA Head’s Transition Refusal a Predictable Consequence of Too Many Political Appointees

November 19, 2020

The Hill
See article on original site
General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Emily Murphy is often introduced as “obscure” or “little known.” Her new-found notoriety stems from her refusal to declare Joe Biden as the president-elect. This inaction blocks his team from meeting with senior agency personnel, even as Murphy herself looks for her next job. Murphy has drawn bipartisan condemnation for playing along with Trump’s assault on democracy. The condemnation should extend to the system that prioritizes rewarding political operatives like Murphy over any principles of merit, efficiency or meaningful accountability.
As someone who got her start in Republican politics during the Clinton impeachment, it’s unsurprising that Murphy is throwing in with party over country. What

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Biden’s Cabinet Could Do A Lot – If He Resists the Urge to Fill it With ‘Consensus’ Picks

November 18, 2020

The Guardian
See article on original site
If this election was the beginning of the end of “the Trump Show,” the writers didn’t pick a very satisfying conclusion. True, despite a deadly pandemic and organized Republican voter suppression, more people turned out than ever before to vote for Joe Biden. But, unless Democrats are successful in Georgia, the Senate will likely still be controlled by Mitch McConnell – a man whose life’s work has been to stifle government action – come 2021. McConnell’s continued power seems to temper any hopes of the bold action we need in this moment.
At least, that’s the narrative being pushed by the one group delighted by this outcome: big corporations and Wall Street, who were hoping for a divided government from day one of the 2020 campaign. Bankers

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Consumer Price Index: “There is Zero Basis for any Concerns About Inflation”

November 12, 2020

(This is a compilation of Dean Baker’s quick-take analysis over Twitter. Follow @DeanBaker13 on Twitter to get his quick-take analysis of government data immediately upon release.)

US CPI overall and core CPI were both flat in October, up 1.2 percent and 1.6 percent year over year, respectively. A sharp drop in energy prices lowered overall US CPI, with the core being held down by a drop in medical care prices by 0.4 percent. 

Rental inflation remains low; rent proper and owners’ equivalent rent were both up 0.2 percent in October — increasing to 2.7 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, over the last year. Rents in the NYC metro area fell slightly in October, up just 0.6 percent since March; likely a lower rise (or fall) in the city itself. 

Hotel prices fell sharply: a 3.7 percent

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Congressional Letter to FBI Director Wray on the need to Protect Voters and the Franchise in the 2020 Election

November 9, 2020

November 2, 2020
The Honorable Christopher Wray
Director Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
Dear Director Wray,
We write as members of the House of Representatives because of our oversight responsibilities to ensure that the enforcement of the laws of this country protect our free and fair elections.
Tens of millions of people have already cast early and mail-in ballots in this election. There is mounting evidence that Postmaster General DeJoy and the Board of Governors have hindered the passage of mail.[1] This included the dismantling of sorting machines, as well as the sweeping organizational and policy changes that have already delayed mail delivery by as much as a week in some places.[2] A federal court, in an effort to

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Donna Shalala Encapsulated Pelosi’s Embrace of Passivity as a Strategy

November 9, 2020

The American Prospect
See article on original site
Democrats were expected to expand their House majority, but instead saw many seats slip through their hands. With several races uncalled, the majority could be cut by as much as seven to ten seats.
That includes the seat of Nancy Pelosi’s close ally Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), whom Pelosi chose for the CARES Act’s Congressional Oversight Commission (which monitors the Federal Reserve bailout). Shalala’s course over the past two years, from part of the promising blue wave to low-energy oversight leader, is the story of Democratic leadership in the 116th Congress in a nutshell.
Florida’s 27th Congressional District had been in Republican hands for three decades, but in 2018 the incumbent’s retirement created an opening. The race, between

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We Don’t Have to Live in Mitch McConnell’s World

November 6, 2020

The American Prospect
See article on original site
Merrick Garland (verb): To prevent an eminently qualified potential appointee from even being considered, for no reason other than partisan politics and a display of political power
If current trend lines hold, Joe Biden is on track to not only become the next president of the United States. In part due to population growth, he will have won more votes than any president in American history—more than Ronald Reagan, more than Bill Clinton, more than even Barack Obama, in whose shadow Biden seems to live.
In short, the people want Biden to wield the full force and power of the presidency. Yet early reports indicate that Biden’s transition team is already readying its white flag of surrender due to opposition by one profoundly unpopular

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Letter on Proposed Rulemaking: Affidavit of Support on Behalf of Immigrants, Department of Homeland Security Docket No. USCIS– 2019–0023

November 5, 2020

November 1, 2020
Comments of Shawn Fremstad, Senior Fellow, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington, DC. Submitted on Regulations.gov on November 1, 2020
My comments focus solely on the failure of the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget to complete a Family Policymaking Assessment of the proposed rule, as required by federal law, and how the proposed rule would undermine family relationships, including marriage, domestic partnerships, and parent-child relationships. Given the fundamental importance of these relationships, DHS should withdraw its proposed rule.
Under section 654 of the Treasury General Appropriations Act, 1999, Public Law 105–277, DHS must assess whether this proposed rule:

“strengthens or erodes the stability or safety of

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Note to Biden: A President Can Do a Lot Even Without the Senate

October 29, 2020

The American Prospect
See article on original site
For almost four years, the breathtaking cruelty, mismanagement, and corruption of the Trump administration have kept the pundits yapping, the printing presses running, angry congressional letters flying, and the Twittersphere ablaze. Depending on the results of next Tuesday’s election, however, Joe Biden may soon be in a position to actually do something about it all. As Biden and his advisers survey the rubble, it will be important that they not get distracted by the nonsense (“I will tweet less” is not a compelling administrative pillar), but rather home in on those features of the Trump administration that have made life worse for millions.
As Trump tweeted gleefully away, hurling insults and peddling conspiracies, his lackeys have

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How BlackRock is on Track to Infiltrate a Biden Administration

October 28, 2020

AlterNet
CounterPunch
See article on original site
The Democratic base, still scarred from the 2016 election, is frantic not to count its chickens before they hatch. But Wall Street and corporate America have no such qualms. As Joe Biden leads in national polls and swing states, the most powerful firms in the country are seeking assurances that his administration won’t crack down on their crimes.
For many, that means tapping the Obama-era alumni and other well-connected Democrats whom they’ve strategically hired to see who’s ready to take a trip through the revolving door. This is why prominent House progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Katie Porter have called on Biden to ban corporate appointees from his administration.
The bellwether for corporate infiltration of a Democratic

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Mexico at the OAS General Assembly: Almagro undermined the OAS Charter and Damaged Bolivia’s Democracy

October 23, 2020

This week in Washington, D.C. the Organization of American States (OAS) held their 50th Regular Session of the General Assembly. In these meetings the General Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the OAS, is tasked with debating the organization’s course of action for the next year, as well as setting the standards of governance for the General Secretariat — the OAS’s central executive body, headed by Uruguayan diplomat Luis Almagro since 2015. 
The session arrives on the heels of another important political event for the Americas: Bolivia’s general election, which took place almost a year after President Evo Morales was ousted in a military coup d’etat. The justification for the coup was based primarily on allegations of electoral fraud that were promoted by an OAS Electoral

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El FMI impone más recortes para Ecuador, aunque predica lo contrario

October 22, 2020

OpenDemocracy
Ver artículo en el sitio original
In English
El FMI que se presenta en las reuniones anuales no es el mismo FMI que el que organiza los programas de préstamos, como se demuestra en el caso de Ecuador.
En su discurso de apertura de las Reuniones Mundiales Anuales de este año, la Directora Gerente del FMI, Kristalina Georgieva, advirtió de los peligros de una recuperación desigual y de una creciente desigualdad, y habló de la necesidad de una recuperación inclusiva. De lo contrario, advirtió Georgieva, corremos el riesgo de recrear el mundo distópico de la novela de Charles Dickens “Historia de dos ciudades”.
Apenas unos días antes de este discurso, el FMI publicó su último acuerdo de préstamo con Ecuador. En él, encontramos exactamente las mismas prescripciones políticas

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El MAS recibió más votos en 2020 en casi todos los 86 recintos sospechosos según la OEA en 2019

October 22, 2020

In English
El domingo 20 de octubre, los bolivianos acudieron a las urnas y, por abrumadora mayoría, eligieron como presidente a Luis Arce del partido MAS. Los conteos rápidos privados publicados la noche de la votación mostraron que Arce recibió más del 50% de los votos y tenía una ventaja de más de 20 puntos porcentuales por encima del candidato en el segundo lugar, Carlos Mesa. Hasta el miércoles por la mañana, un poco más del 88% de los votos se había contabilizado en el sistema de resultados oficiales, y la ventaja de Arce ha ido aumentando. El porcentaje de votos del candidato del MAS es, al momento de redactar este artículo, del 54,5 en comparación con el 29,3 para Mesa. A medida que se cuenten los votos finales, es probable que la proporción de votos de Arce aumente aún más.
En

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The OAS Helped Facilitate Last Year’s Coup Against Evo Morales. Now It’s Observing Today’s Bolivian Elections

October 22, 2020

Jacobin
See article on original site

Today, nearly one year after Evo Morales was ousted in a coup facilitated by the Organization of American States (OAS), Bolivia will finally vote in new elections. With Luis Arce, the candidate of Morales’s Movement for Socialism–Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS) party leading in polls, the OAS and the right-wing opposition are laying the groundwork to yet again claim fraud and reject the results.
To understand the threat from the OAS and its accomplices, it’s first necessary to rewind to last year.
On October 20, 2019, Bolivia held presidential and parliamentary elections, with then president Evo Morales seeking a fourth term. The next day, the OAS, which oversaw an observation mission for the elections, issued a press

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Biden’s Treasury Could Fight Climate Change, But Would Lael Brainard’s?

October 15, 2020

Common Dreams
See article on original site
If Joe Biden wins in November, he will have no time to spare to shift our trajectory away from climate disaster. He will need to move quickly to install forward thinking, dynamic, and aggressive advocates for climate action, especially in his Treasury Department.
What does the Treasury department have to do with climate change? The short answer is the fossil fuel industry depends on financial institutions to survive. And banks, for their part, pull in big profits from underwriting climate disaster. The Treasury Secretary has untapped capacity to push Wall Street to take the risks of the climate crisis seriously. Biden’s choice for Treasury Secretary is arguably among his most important climate policy decisions.
Wielding the tools of Treasury will

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