Weekly Round-Up: Valentine's Day, President's Budget & Unemployment Insurance

Feb 16, 2012

Select CLASP blog posts and other highlights

On Monday, President Obama released his budget blueprint for FY 2013. Like other policy-oriented organizations in Washington, CLASP policy analysts parsed the budget to determine the administration's priorities for the coming year and beyond, particularly as it relates to low-income families. Alan W. Houseman, executive director of CLASP, wrote that "given the tough political and economic environment," President Obama's budget sets the right tone and priorities. Read his blog post for a summary of what the budget proposes for child care and early education, workforce development, job training, postsecondary education, youth, and legal services programs.

Also, we couldn't let Valentine's Day go by without comment. Our twist? Does the marriage gap contribute to growing inequality among children and can it be an economic liability for some women? CLASP's deputy director Jodie Levin-Epstein explored these questions in a Valentine's Day-themed blog.

The other major policy development this week affecting low-income workers and families is a House and Senate Conference Committee agreement to extend federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and the 2 percent payroll tax reduction through the end of 2012. CLASP had worked to raise awareness of two harmful proposals that would have allowed states to drug test UI claimants and denied benefits to workers without a high school diploma who couldn't prove they were enrolled in an adult education program. Fortunately, conferees excluded these provisions. But conferees did manage to include stigmatizing provisions in the part of the bill that extends the TANF block grant program through September 2012. The bill reduces the maximum number of weeks of unemployment benefits, but overall it is good news for jobless workers struggling to find employment in a job market where four people are looking looking for every one job opening. Congress passed the bill Friday.

And more...

Speaking of unemployment, Economic Policy Institute on Thursday released a report, No Relief in 2012 from High Unemployment for African Americans and Latinos. The report projects that the status quo will remain in states where black and Latino unemployment is extraordinarily high.

Read on for more articles and news stories related to low-income people that caught our attention this week:

»  Center for American Progress' Michael Linden marked the third anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act with this great video. So, did the Stimulus work? (The answer is Yes)

»  Slate.com went 100 years back to examine how profoundly different the nation's political leaders then thought about economic inequality in its article Radical Solutions to Economic Inequality. They felt, "Wealth inequality... threatens to undermine the national ideal that hard work would bring just reward."

»  60 Minutes released a preview for its upcoming feature on long-term unemployment, Trapped in Unemployment. Tune in Sunday night at 7 pm ET/PT to watch.

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