March 2021 Posts
Oversight is not an abstract public relations battle – it can be a matter of life and death for those struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. For every dollar lost to fraud and every day that aid is delayed, more Americans inch closer to precarity. Efficient, effective, and equitable distribution of relief funds helps ensure that all families can continue to put food on the table. If the Biden administration intends to make “build back better” more than just a campaign slogan, its oversight activity must continue on its current, productive trajectory.
Getting paid wages so low an individual or family must rely on public assistance to make up the difference - even when they work is full time - is bad enough. But a new report shows low-wage workers are also far more likely to encounter dangerous or illegal conditions, like wage theft. So write the authors of a new study, "Wage Inequality and Labor Rights Violations," a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. I asked one of the report's authors to talk more about the report, which in part relied in part on Violation Tracker to show the linkage between bad pay and poor working conditions, and how little power workers have in these situations.
Your state and local government’s files on economic development subsidies are just that—your files.
On March 11, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law. Like previous Covid relief packages, the ARP allocates significant sums to American businesses, both large and small. Specifically, the bill contains almost $107 billion in direct relief to businesses and additional, significant appropriations for various employer tax credits. The remaining $1.8 trillion, however, will support direct assistance to Americans, augmented social programs, and vaccine distribution.
We all know that state governments vary greatly in their policies on a variety of issues. I just discovered the degree to which they also diverge in their willingness to disclose data on their implementation of those policies. I learned this lesson in the course of gathering data from state environmental regulators across the country for a major expansion of the Violation Tracker database. Next week, my colleagues and I will post 50,000 new entries from those agencies along with a report analyzing the data.