Americans want good schools, strong infrastructure and safe, thriving communities where everyone has a chance to prosper. Next week, voters in Arizona, California and Illinois will decide whether the tax structures that support those investments should be a little more progressive – meaning that those who have reaped the biggest economic gains pay at slightly higher rates. A New York Times editorial makes the case for a more progressive state tax structure:
A more progressive approach to taxation is necessary to counterbalance the rise of economic inequality, which has reached the highest levels since the 1920s. This imbalance undermines the nation’s foundational commitment to the equality of opportunity, weighs on economic growth and exacerbates political tensions. Federal taxation requires the biggest overhaul. The federal government collects about two-thirds of the taxes that Americans pay, and the distribution of that burden has become significantly less progressive in recent decades, including as a result of President Trump’s 2017 tax cut. But state and local tax policies are ripe for change, too.
Reminder: The richest 1% households in Louisiana pay state and local taxes at half the effective rate of those in the poorest 20%. Legislators have a chance to address this in next year’s “fiscal” session.
Government must respond strong to Covid-19 pandemic
The Legislature’s October special session was long on political rhetoric and woefully short on actual accomplishments. Undergirding it all was an effort by the GOP legislative majorities to lift the public health measures put in place by Gov. John Bel Edwards to control the pandemic. The nearly 6,000 Louisianans who lost their lives was apparently not enough for some members to take the pandemic seriously. The Illuminator’s Jarvis Deberry has more on the need for a strong response for our legislators to stop the spread of the virus:
You would think that eight months into this pandemic that we wouldn’t still have lawmakers making the personal freedom argument and that the death of somebody in their district or the cumulative death toll in the state, the country and the world would have made them shift to an appreciation for collective action. But the idea that we should let people do whatever they want to do was pretty much the reason there was a second special session, and that idea was paired with the belief that the pandemic no longer warrants our vigilance.
Racism has exacerbated Covid-19 risk
Covid-19 has disproportionately affected vulnerable Black and Brown communities in America. The lack of strong labor policies, affordable housing, access to transportation and other policies have helped drive infections and deaths. Phillip Atiba Goff, Amelia M. Haviland, Tracey Lloyd, Mikaela Meyer and Rachel Warren have more in VOX on how America’s refusal to reckon with racial inequities have made it hard to contain this pandemic:
The inequities that have trapped the nation in this Covid-19 nightmare are not preordained. There is nothing inherently different about Black or brown people that makes these populations more likely to end up handcuffed on the street, moving in and out of a jail, or working a low-wage job. There’s no genetic condition that makes them more likely to be exposed to Covid-19.Deliberate policy choices, past and present, drive these disparities. We choose to deny full-time workers a living wage, health care, and the right to take time off. We choose to house incarcerated people in a “pod” without the ability to urinate in private, much less socially distance. We choose to use policing as a default response to generations of discrimination and neglect.The virus afflicts vulnerable people because, first, our policy choices afflicted them. Now, we have numbers to show how our indifference affects everyone else, too.
Student debt is bad for your wallet, and your health
Student loan debt has been a growing threat to the financial well being of Americans. New data shows that it also takes a toll on physical well-being. People with heavy debt loads are likely to skip medical care and face mental and physical health risks as a result. Ben Kaufman of the Student Borrower’s Protection Center explains how student debt is making Americans sicker:
The impact of student debt ripples across borrowers’ financial lives, forcing them to push off homeownership and other life milestones, jeopardizing retirement security, and leading borrowers to pay tens of thousands of dollars more for other forms of credit. Now, a growing body of evidence is suggesting that student debt could be detrimental not only to borrowers’ financial health, but also to their physical wellbeing. With healthcare coverage potentially in jeopardy for millions of Americans—especially for the low-income Americans who are often most burdened by student debt—this issue is more pressing than ever.
Join us on today for the launch of A Portrait of Louisiana 2020, the latest human development report by Measure of America, a program of the Social Science Research Council, presented in partnership with the Louisiana Budget Project and the LSU Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs! A presentation of the report’s key findings by Measure of America’s Director Kristen Lewis will be followed by a panel discussion on the report’s implications for the state’s road to recovery, moderated by Jan Moller, Executive Director, Louisiana Budget Project. Register here.
Number of the Day
964,141 – The number of people who cast a ballot in person or by mail in advance of the Nov. 3 elections – nearly one-third of all of Louisiana’s registered voters. (Source: BR Proud)