Jared Bernstein & Ben Spielberg

Jared Bernstein is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

Ben Spielberg is a research associate with the CBPP, where he manages its Full Employment Project.

Recent Articles

Hot Investment Tip: The Health of Poor Children

Support for low- and middle-income families can benefit the broader economy.

AP Photo/Jacqueline Malonson
AP Photo/Jacqueline Malonson Maria Prince feeds her one-year-old daughter Monica, in her home in Crofton, Maryland. Maria and her huband Barry receive Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits, one of many programs benefiting children currently at risk under the new Republican budget. T hough our economy is doing better than that of most other advanced economies, the United States still has at least three major economic problems. There’s the macro problem of growth—especially productivity growth—that’s slower than we’d like. There’s the micro problem that any growth we have continues to leave too many people behind. And there’s the political problem that the Trump administration and Republican Congress propose to make these other two problems worse. Each of these problems is easy to document. Productivity growth —a key determinant of overall living standards—averaged almost 3 percent annually between 1995 and 2005. Since then, it’s been growing at less than half that pace, and even...

Why a $15 Minimum Wage Is Good Economics

Opponents of minimum-wage increases have long focused on the wrong economic questions.

(Photo: AP)
(Photo: Kaitlin McKeown/The Herald-Sun via AP) Brandon Ruffin holds a sign during a Fight for 15 rally in Durham, North Carolina, on November 29, 2016. I n our last column , we offered two bold policy ideas: Medicare for All and a job guarantee. Now, we’re pleased to see Democrats in the House and the Senate step up with an idea of their own: raising the minimum wage to $15. The Raise the Wage Act of 2017, co-sponsored by Senators Patty Murray and Bernie Sanders and House members Bobby Scott and Keith Ellison, would hike the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. It would then index the minimum wage to the median wage (to keep low-wage workers’ pay changing at the same pace as the pay of middle-wage workers) and would gradually phase out the loopholes in federal minimum-wage law that set subminimum wages for tipped workers, teenagers who’ve just started their jobs, and workers with disabilities. The value of the federal minimum wage peaked in 1968, at $9.68 in inflation-adjusted...

The Progressive Agenda Now: Jobs and Medicare for All

Playing defense is necessary, but Democrats need some compelling ideas on offense as well.

(Photo: Sipa USA via AP)
(Photo: Sipa USA via AP) Hundreds of members of National Nurses United and "Medicare for All" supporters rally in New York City on January 15, 2017. T he coming years will require progressives to play extremely tough defense if we hope to preserve gains we’ve made. That means highlighting the disconnect between the promises that Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers have made and their actual proposals, and hammering home who their plans are designed to help: people who are already very wealthy. It also means mobilizing in our communities to exert pressure on politicians, as progressives did with considerable success during the recent health-care debate. But it’s obvious that defense isn’t enough. To win over and mobilize the public, social justice advocates must articulate what we’re for, not just what we’re against. The American people deserve better than what’s currently on offer from team Trump, but for many, the status quo also falls short. If progressives are to fulfill one of...

The Republicans’ $370 Billion Cut to Medicaid

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite House Speaker Paul Ryan meets with reporters on Capitol Hill. A ccording to Republicans in the House of Representatives, block grants “give states the freedom to tailor their individual programs to address the diverse needs of communities.” According to the historical record, block grants are thinly disguised budget cuts . In their newly released plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are proposing to convert Medicaid—the program that provides health coverage to almost 100 million low-income Americans each year—from a program that expands with need and thus provides a reliable safety net, to a type of block-grant program called a per capita cap . This funding mechanism provides states a fixed amount of federal Medicaid dollars per recipient with loose restrictions on how the money can be used. But the level of funding provided to the states declines dramatically. According to a new estimate , the House Republican health plan...

Three Reasons Trickle-Down Tax Cuts Don’t Work

(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock) History shows that bad economic ideas almost never die, especially when they serve the wealthy and powerful. There’s no better example of this truth than trickle-down tax cuts. As we write this, the Trump administration is teeing up a tax plan that slashes taxes for the wealthy and the corporate sector, does little for everyone else (repealing the Affordable Care Act actually raises taxes on some with low and moderate incomes), and stiffs the U.S. Treasury to the tune of $6.2 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center’s estimates. Evidence does not hurt this zombie. We and others have shown the lack of correlation between tax changes and the indices of growth—GDP, jobs, incomes—touted by the trickle downers. Among those claiming that Trump’s plan will spur economic growth are the same folks who told us that a trickle-down tax cut experiment in Kansas in 2013 would bring an “immediate and lasting boost” to the state’s economy. Four years later, that immediate...

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