When Louisianans marked the Labor Day holiday on Monday, hundreds of thousands of people were out of work because of the Covid-19 recession. The $600 per week boost to unemployment benefits that kept many families afloat in the early months of the pandemic is now gone, replaced by a temporary $300 per week supplement that excludes many of the lowest-paid workers. The Nola.com | Baton Rouge Advocate editorial board explain why urgent aid is needed from Congress:
The loss of federal supplements for unemployment insurance — in Louisiana, boosting the top check to $847 per (week) — are starting to be felt in some data about consumer spending. While there seems to be considerable support for some other type of federal supplement, gridlock on Capitol Hill has prevented the Congress from acting on it. … There are other issues in a coronavirus relief bill on the Hill, aid to local governments and schools among them. Still, as Labor Day passed with no action, there will be an impact on consumer spending, because many families will not have other funds to fall back upon.
A ‘successful failure’ in higher education
A recent pilot program at a community college in Cleveland led to an uptick in graduation rates, more transfers to four-year institutions and lower costs per degree. The secret? Providing more intensive, wraparound support for students who need help crossing the finish line. Unfortunately the Degree in Three program at Cuyahoga Community College – and similar programs at other schools – were discontinued after state funding dried up. Washington Monthly’s Jamaal Abdul-alim explains why effective higher education reforms that address real barriers to degree completion too often fail to gain momentum.
The failure of America’s community colleges to replicate, or even maintain, successful programs like Degree in Three illustrates a profound but underappreciated flaw in the way this country allocates funds for higher education: Students who need resources the most get the least. Community college students generally have significantly less of the social capital—parents who attended college, for instance—that can help them navigate the college setting. They tend to have less developed study skills than affluent students who attended well-funded high schools. They also carry greater personal burdens, such as having to work multiple jobs.
Black-owned businesses are struggling
Black-owned businesses in Louisiana have been hit hardest by the coronavirus recession in the past six months, another example of how people of color have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis. While some of these businesses have been able to get loans from the federal government, more direct relief to the businesses’ customers – in the way of a new coronavirus relief bill from Congress – will be vital in the coming months. Kristen Mosbrucker and Timothy Boone report for Nola.com | The Baton Rouge Advocate.
Nearly 60% of businesses in the metro area told the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce in a recent survey that they were negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which is more than the nearly 40% who felt the same way nationwide. … “I feel like instead of helping out the businesses, they need to help the buyers,” he (Kevin Smith, owner of the Fashion Shop) said. “If people get money, they’re going to spend it. The issue is they don’t have the extra money to spend right now, so it’s either get food or clothes.”
The tax cut for the rich that Democrats love
Democrats in Congress decried the 2017 Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as a giveaway to the wealthy. But now, those same leaders are fighting hard for a $137 billion tax break for the richest Americans, by removing the $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local tax (better known as the SALT deduction). The New York Times’ Richard R. Reeves and Christopher Pulliam examine why lawmakers on the left are supporting a regressive tax policy.
But there was one seriously progressive element, a single diamond in a lot of rough: the introduction of the SALT cap. Lifting it would therefore reverse one of the few good things about the 2017 bill. Almost 60 percent of the benefit of removal would go to the top 1 percent of households (of which 90 percent are white). For the superrich, the top 0.1 percent, repeal would make for an average tax cut of around $145,000 a year. In isolation, this change would be more skewed to the rich than the Republican tax bill as a whole.
LBP is excited to sponsor a national screening event for the new documentary film: WAGING CHANGE. The FREE Virtual Screening + Live Panel Discussion will occur on Thursday, Sept. 10 from 6-8 pm CST. Watch the trailer & RSVP here.
WAGING CHANGE shines a light on an American struggle hidden in plain sight: the women-led movement to end the federal tipped minimum wage for restaurant workers. It weaves together the stories of workers struggling to make ends meet with the efforts of Saru Jayaraman and others at One Fair Wage. Together they face off against the powerful National Restaurant Association lobby and fight for one fair wage.
Number of the Day
25% – Percentage of Black-owned businesses surveyed by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) that said they had enough cash on hand to survive a month without generating revenue. That compares to 57% of businesses nationwide. (Source: Baton Rouge Area Chamber via The Advocate)