Category Archives: Blog Posts

Blog Post: “The Economics of Family Behavior”

Blog Post: June Carbone & Naomi Cahn, The Economics of Family Behavior, Inst. for Family Studies, Feb. 8, 2018.

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[Self-promoting post] Jotwell Review of Rothstein’s The Color of Law

9781631492853_198My review of Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (2017) has now been published by Jotwell. I highly recommend the book.

Op-Ed: Ron Haskins on Work Requirements and Medicaid

Op-Ed: Ron Haskins, More Work, More Self-Sufficiency, Brookings, Nov. 14, 2017.

Blog Post on Tax, Disability and Work: “Crip the Code”

Blog Post: Francine Lipman, Crip the Code, Surly Subgroup Blog, Nov. 26, 2017.

Blog Post on Trump’s Proposal to Fund the Border Wall by Limiting Remittances

Reposting from the AU Latin American Blog:

Trump’s Wall Funding Proposal Violates Conservative Principles

By Ezra Rosser*

A large border fence and the blue sky as seen from a street in California

More than two years after U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump first boasted that he would “build a great, great wall on our southern border and … make Mexico pay for that wall,” his main proposal to fund it appears to remain blocking transnational remittances  – in contradiction of neoliberal capitalist principles he embraces.  In a letter that now-President Trump sent last month to U.S. House and Senate Leaders he said the border wall was necessary to protect “our national security and public safety” because the “porous southern border … is exploited by drug traffickers and criminal cartels.”  He was ambiguous, however, about who was going to pay for the wall, simply arguing that the country must “ensure funding for the southern border wall and associated infrastructure.”  Trump offered to make a deal to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – the “Dreamers” – only if Congress passed harsh immigration policies and funded the wall.

  • Under pressure during the campaign to explain how he would make Mexico pay for the wall, Trump claimed he could hold remittances sent by Mexican immigrants to family members in Mexico hostage until Mexico agreed to pay. President Obama noted at the time that the implications of ending immigrant remittances would be “enormous,” difficult to implement, and likely push more people to leave Mexico for the United States.  Senders would likely resort to informal channels, and Trump’s proposed selective taxation of money sent to Mexico would raise legal issues because of the discriminatory nature of such a program.
  • Trump has been quietly backing away from his repeated campaign promise to make Mexico pay. When Mexican President Peña Nieto told him in a phone call last January that “my position has been and will continue to be very firm saying that Mexico cannot pay for that wall,” Trump responded with much less bluster.  He noted simply that “you cannot say that to the press.  The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that.”  This acknowledgement that the issue was largely about political optics suggested that Trump knew that, in the memorable words of former Mexican President Vicente Fox, Mexico was “not going to pay for that f***ing wall.”

Trump has not withdrawn, however, his threat to block remittances.  Such a policy would cause hardship for millions; most remittances are spent on basic necessities such as food.  But by undermining the free flow of capital, a core feature of our modern globalized world, Trump is also attacking a central component of neoliberal capitalism.  Trump also takes positions that reflect anti-globalization and protectionism – such as his characterization of NAFTA as the “the worst trade deal ever signed in the history of our country” and his claim that globalization “left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache” – but tying capital flows with labor flows would arguably turn the values of the global order on their head.

  • The notion that there is an imbalance in the treatment of workers and capital is ordinarily associated with the radical left. Harvard Law Professor Roberto Mangabeira Unger, for example, highlighted this imbalance in his 1998 book, Democracy Realized: The Progressive Alternative, in which he wrote, “The architects of the new world economic order have built a system in which capital and goods can roam the world while labor remains imprisoned in the nation-state or in blocs of relatively homogeneous nation-states.”  For Trump and other Republicans, linking remittances and immigration would normally be anathema.  If the U.S. Congress decides not to fund the wall, we may discover that taxing cash transfers may be an autocratic strategy that crosses ideological lines.

 November 27, 2017

Blog post: “Repeal of Child Tax Credit For Taxpayers Without a Voice, Is A Great Way to Defund the Success of America’s Kids”

Blog post: Francine Lipman, Repeal of Child Tax Credit For Taxpayers Without a Voice, Is A Great Way to Defund the Success of America’s Kids, Surley Subgroup, Nov. 19, 2017.

New Jotwell Review: “Discovering (Tax) Rights that the Poor Have Post-Welfare Reform” (reviewing Susannah Camic Tahk, The New Welfare Rights, BROOKLYN L. REV. (2017)

New Jotwell Review: Ezra Rosser, “Discovering (Tax) Rights that the Poor Have Post-Welfare Reform” Jotwell (Nov. 16, 2017) (reviewing Susannah Camic Tahk, The New Welfare Rights, BROOKLYN L. REV. (2017))

Op-Ed: “To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now”

Neil Irwin,To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now, The Upshot, September 3, 2017. [Divergent qualities of life highlight a shift toward bare bones employment strategies at top technology companies.]

New Jotwell Review: “Tracing the Roots of the Criminalization of Poverty”

New Jotwell Review: Wendy A. Bach, Tracing the Roots of the Criminalization of Poverty, Jotwell, Aug. 11, 2017 (reviewing Elizabeth Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (2016)).

Blog post: Lisa Pruitt on Hillbilly Elegy

For those interested in JD Vance’s book or in reactions to the book, Lisa Pruitt’s blog post about the reactions can be found here.