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Matt Sedlar



Articles by Matt Sedlar

Ecuador: La democracia no debe ser descarrilada por falsas denuncias de fraude

February 26, 2021

La Opinión
MarketWatch, 25 de febrero de 2021
Ver artículo en el sitio original
In English
Cuando Donald Trump comenzó su última campaña para convencer al pueblo estadounidense y al mundo, o al menos a sus partidarios, de que le robaron la victoria en las elecciones, no recibió apoyo de la mayoría de los medios de comunicación estadounidenses. Aquí, la mayoría de los periodistas, así como los expertos en los que confían, querían ver pruebas. Y no encontraron ninguna.
Pero los mismos estándares no siempre se aplican cuando la frase “detengan el robo” se convierte en el grito de guerra de los perdedores electorales en otros países. Mientras usted lee esto, se está llevando a cabo un esfuerzo concertado para desacreditar las elecciones presidenciales del 7 de febrero en Ecuador. El último

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Public Sector Unions Mean Middle-Class Jobs for Black Workers

February 25, 2021

Government jobs have been an important source of economic mobility for Black workers and their families for many years. The federal government was an early adopter of anti-discrimination provisions, and today about a fifth of federal workers are Black. This includes those employed by the United States Postal Service, which provided well-paying jobs and career pathways to formerly enslaved people well before the rest of government, and in 2020 employed just under a fifth of Black federal workers. State and local governments have similarly emerged as wellsprings of relatively stable and well-paying employment for Black workers and pensions for Black retirees. The public sector’s legacy as a path to the middle class for the Black community persists today; government workers are

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Ecuador: Democracy Should Not Be Derailed by False Claims of Fraud

February 24, 2021

MarketWatch
See article on original site
When Donald Trump began his final campaign to convince the American people and the world, or at least his supporters, that the US election was stolen from him, he didn’t get any help from most of the US media. Most journalists here — as well as the experts they rely upon — wanted to see some evidence. And none was forthcoming.
But the same standards don’t always apply when “stop the steal” becomes the rallying cry of election losers in other countries. As you read this now, a concerted effort is underway to discredit the February 7 presidential election in Ecuador. As in the US, the political situation is polarized.
Andrés Arauz, an economist who served as a minister and director of the Central Bank in the prior (2007–2017) social democratic

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Wage Cap Allows Millionaires to Stop Contributing to Social Security on February 23, 2021

February 23, 2021

Today is the first day of 2021 that millionaires make no contribution to Social Security.
Social Security gives retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to almost one-in-five Americans every year, many of whom are children. However, contributions to the program are capped to the first $142,800 of wage income per year. This means that someone who earns $1,000,000 in 2021 stops contributing to the program on February 23.
Most people make less than $142,800 per year, so they pay the 6.2 percent payroll tax on every paycheck in 2021. But those who make more than $142,800 don’t have to pay into the program once they hit that cap. That makes their effective tax rate lower than everyone else’s; for a millionaire it’s not even one percent of their income. The burden of supporting Social

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Acting Officials Can Govern for Years. They Deserve Scrutiny.

February 22, 2021

The American Prospect
See article on original site

A lot has changed since Joe Biden assumed the presidency last month, but the federal government’s position in a case on the Voting Rights Act is apparently not one of them. It seems that Biden’s Department of Justice “does not disagree with the conclusion[s]” underlying Trump appointees’ argument before the Supreme Court that Arizona should be allowed to discard ballots. The person appointed by Biden to make this call, acting Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, recused herself for undisclosed reasons and advised the Supreme Court that the DOJ “does not seek to make a further substantive submission” to defend the Voting Rights Act. Her decision effectively let the anti-democratic Trump briefs stand as the position of the United States

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Comments on RIN 1235-AA34: Independent Contractor Status Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Delay of Effective Date

February 19, 2021

February 13, 2021
Comments of Eileen Appelbaum, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington, DC. Submitted on FederalRegister.gov on February 13, 2021
Amy DeBisschop
Division of Regulations, Legislation, and Interpretation Wage and Hour Division
U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-3502
200 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20210
Dear Ms. DeBisschop:
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) submits these comments on the Department of Labor’s Request for Comment on Delay of the Effective Date of RIN 1235-AA34; Fed. Reg. Vol. 86, 8326.  (February 5, 2021) 
I am Eileen Appelbaum, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. I direct the Center’s work on domestic economic research and policy issues. CEPR was established in 1999 to promote

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Pandemic-Related Drop in College Enrollment Reveals Inequities in Access to Higher Ed

February 17, 2021

Introduction
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on college enrollments this fall. Based on preliminary estimates, fall 2020 enrollments were down 2.5 percent, resulting in a rate of decline greater than twice that of 2019, and a net decrease of 400,000 students in higher education. The bulk of the decline was concentrated at the undergraduate level and pushes against the typical pattern of enrollment rates increasing during times of economic downturn.
The decline has been most pronounced at the two extremes: selective four-year universities and public two-year colleges or community colleges. However, media coverage and financial support have been seemingly concentrated on the former, despite the greater demonstrated need of the latter.  
College Enrollments
As the pandemic

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Resignation of Trump-Appointed US Attorneys Is Just The Start Of DOJ’s De-Trumpification

February 12, 2021

Talking Points Memo
See article on original site
In the Reconstruction era following the Civil War, the Department of Justice was created in part to deliver and oversee equal rights to formerly enslaved Black men and women. This corrective institution was a major step toward building a federal government that protects the civil rights of all its citizens. In the wrong hands, however, the department can be weaponized. Whether through inaction or outright hostility on issues ranging from white-collar crime to mass incarceration, the values animating the nation’s top law enforcement agency matter.
Today we face a period of reconstruction of our own — and an urgent need for justice to account for the violence and lawlessness of the previous administration. President Biden’s belated move this

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The Trump Holdovers Biden Still Needs to Fire

February 11, 2021

The American Prospect
See article on original site
Throughout several decades in the Senate, Joe Biden earned a reputation as an institutionalist. Extraordinary circumstances, however, are pushing the new president to cast aside many of his beloved norms when they fail to account for these exceptional times. In just a few short weeks, Biden has removed officials whose predecessors had never before been fired. And faced with predictable Republican obstruction on his signature pandemic response bill, he’s eschewed endless waiting for compromise in favor of budget reconciliation.
With these decisions, Biden is meeting the political moment and rejecting the tyranny of ill-suited norms not respected by his opposition. However, that makes his decision to bow to those norms in other cases all the

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Want to Reverse Inequality? Change Intellectual Property Rules

February 8, 2021

The Nation
See article on original site

The explosion of inequality over the past four decades is appropriately a major focus of the political agenda for progressives. Unfortunately, policy prescriptions usually turn to various taxes directed at the wealthy and very wealthy. While making our tax structure more progressive is important, most of the increase in inequality comes from greater inequality in before-tax income, not from reductions in taxes paid by the rich. And, if we’re serious about reversing that trend, it is easier, as a practical matter, to keep people from getting ridiculously rich in the first place than to tax the money after they have it.
While the Reagan, George W. Bush, and Trump tax cuts all gave more money to the rich, policy changes in other areas, especially

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To Fight Climate Change in the Middle of this Economic Crisis, We Need a New Deal that is Green

February 5, 2021

MarketWatch
See article on original site
Against the universal, natural tendency to put off future needs for the sake of current ones, I want to dwell on the disposition of U.S. public investment. I insist on using investment in the economist’s sense: spending that provides benefits in the future. 
Liberal advocates tend to describe absolutely everything as investment, perhaps to evince a hardheaded, businesslike attitude. I doubt anyone is convinced.
“ The time remaining to prevent disastrous climate change is running out. But the Green New Deal has a political problem: Most folks have more immediate concerns. Rather than a Green New Deal, we want a New Deal that is green. ”
To be sure, the bulk of federal spending is for consumption; and consumption—food, clothing, and shelter—is life

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Even After the Cabinet Selections, Personnel Is Policy

February 4, 2021

The American Prospect
See article on original site
Recent nominations and appointments by President Biden have given progressives enough reason to feel cautiously hopeful about the shape of the administration. Some high-profile losses aside (We meet again, Tom Vilsack), most of Biden’s early picks for senior cabinet jobs and top advisers are to the left of their predecessors under President Obama. This is a clear reflection of the power of organized progressive agitation that has shifted the winds of Democratic politics over the last decade.
But let’s emphasize the word “cautiously” in cautiously optimistic. As grinding as the cabinet fights have been, they’re only the first wave of the Biden administration’s personnel. Now comes a new stage of the transition, in which the newly-named

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Work Should Pay: A $15 an Hour Minimum Wage Is a Start

February 4, 2021

Lancaster Online (PA), February 4, 2021
InsideSources, February 4, 2021
See original article online
President Biden has proposed raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. This has led to the predictable cries of economic disaster from business organizations and right-wingers more generally.
The standard argument against raising the minimum wage is not supported by the evidence.
We now have considerable experience with state and local governments having substantial increases in their minimum wages. Several cities, including New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, already have a $15 an hour minimum wage. California’s statewide minimum wage is now at $14 an hour and is scheduled to hit $15 an hour for mid-size and large employers next year and all employers in 2023.
Dozens of economists

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New Dem-Majority Senate Must Assess Financial Reg Appointees Through Climate-Tinted Lens

February 2, 2021

Talking Points Memo
See article on original site
Joe Biden claimed he would be the Climate President. Last week was the first time many concluded that he actually meant it. His slate of climate-focused executive actions, issued just one week after his inauguration, included many of the growing climate movement’s priorities. And throughout every corner of his administration, Biden has begun to choose highly-regarded allies of the environmental movement, leading to surprising praise from some left-wing corners of his coalition. 
Perhaps even more importantly, it appears as though Biden believes that every Cabinet job, not just those with “environment” or “energy” in the name, should play an essential role in the fight against climate change. His nominees to the Departments of the Interior

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Why Recent American Governments Have Fumbled Crises

February 1, 2021

The American Prospect
See article on original site
President Joe Biden faces diverse crises, but they all share one thing in common: Solving them will require a federal government that is much better staffed than the one we have now. Former President Donald Trump’s reign of terror over the federal workforce, in combination with the inadequacy of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, has brought this long-running issue to the fore. If the Biden administration hopes to have any chance of success, it must make the case for a larger federal workforce while using all of the tools available to restore the federal government’s capacity to implement ambitious programs and administer the basic functions on which the public relies.
In the nearly seven decades since 1952, the U.S.

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Robinhood Is a Perfect Example of Fintech’s Insidious Power

February 1, 2021

The Intercept
See article on original site

To spite “hedge fund bros,” retail investors led a surge in GameStop’s stock price largely through the trading app Robinhood. While progressives relished watching Wall Street’s old guard scramble amid the chaos, fintech firms like Robinhood — apps for lending, investing, and so on — certainly aren’t seeking an end to financial capitalism. Indeed, once Wall Street began shrieking about amateurs beating them at their own absurd game, Robinhood warned against the very market volatility it was facilitating, then shut down trading of GameStop and other memed stocks, leading to at least one class-action lawsuit and Senate and House progressives calling for investigation.
Ultimately, it looks like the hedge fund Robinhood users targeted, Melvin Capital

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Union Membership Byte 2021

January 25, 2021

PDF | Press Release
Acknowledgements
The author would like to thank Dean Baker, Sarah Rawlins, Karen Conner, Aiden Lee, Simran Kalkat, and Matthew Sedlar for their assistance.
Overview
The overall union membership rate increased by half a percentage point in 2020, rising to 10.8 percent of all employed (Table 1). This represents the largest year-over-year gain since directly comparable data became available in the early 1980s. However, the number of union members declined by 321,000 in 2020 (Table 2), amid heavy job losses throughout the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The increase in union density reflects the fact that the percent decline in the number of employed was over three times larger for nonunion workers than for union members. A similar dynamic was observed in 2007 and

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The Chopra Gambit

January 22, 2021

The American Prospect
See article on original site
On Monday, President Biden announced his intention to name Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s next director, earning a rare, unqualified cheer from the party’s left flank. Despite serving in the minority on the FTC, Chopra has managed to have a ground-shaking impact, earning a reputation for skillful and creative maneuvering. It is encouraging to see his dogged work for the public interest rewarded and the CFPB land in such capable hands. Just elevating Chopra, however, is not enough. If Democrats are serious about good governance and building their party’s power, they must look to the institutional features that provided Chopra with a platform and honed his governing skills so that,

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Trump Has Quietly Hollowed Out the Government

January 21, 2021

Slate
See article on original site
Over four years, federal workers were ignored, subjected to retaliation, and fired for articulating politically inconvenient truths or standing in the way of President Donald Trump’s attacks against the public. By all accounts, that is set to change under President-elect Joe Biden. But while new attacks may not be forthcoming, the fissures from old ones will remain, threatening the federal government’s structural integrity unless the next administration and Congress take action. For all that we know about Trump’s assaults on the federal workforce, there is likely more that remains hidden. Up to this point, Democratic leadership has failed to make combating or uncovering these incursions a priority. For the sake of the Biden administration’s success, that

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

January 8, 2021

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

January 4, 2021

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

December 22, 2020

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

December 22, 2020

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

December 21, 2020

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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