‘Universalism’ vs. targeted aid

‘Universalism’ vs. targeted aid

Government social programs fall into two broad categories: Those that are available to everyone, regardless of income, such as Social Security and Medicare; and those that are targeted by income, such as Medicaid or food assistance. Robert Greenstein of Brookings, formerly the head of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, writes that “universal” programs have long been viewed as more durable and politically popular. But the targeted programs grew 40% faster than universal programs from 1979-2019. 

As these data suggest, multiple factors beyond whether a program is targeted or universal affect a program’s political strength. Of particular note is the spread in recent decades of what might be termed a new model of targeted program under which a program serves not only the poor but also people significantly above the poverty line and often a sizable share of the middle class. Nearly all targeted programs that expanded robustly now reflect this approach, which, among other things, may have lessened the racial imagery of these programs.

Reaction to SCOTUS setback for fair districts
The reaction by both sides to the Supreme Court’s decision to stop the process of redrawing Louisiana’s Congressional map was swift. While some cheered the decision to deny Black voters of the state fair representation in Congress, other voices decried the racist maps that will be used for the November elections. WAFB’s Chris Rosato has more on the reactions from the decision and suggestions on how to move forward: 

“I was extremely disappointed but quite honestly, I wasn’t surprised. This Supreme Court has showcased time and time again that they will use the emergency relief and shadow docket to make rulings on merits of the case,” said Davante Lewis with the Louisiana Budget Project. … “I think the step forward is allowing an independent commission and the people to have the right to see congressional districts and legislative districts form without political bias and party power being at the center of deciding how people are being represented,” said Lewis.

The city that still isn’t
The proposed breakaway city of St. George – narrowly approved in 2019 by voters in unincorporated parts of East Baton Rouge Parish – suffered another setback this week when the state treasurer refused to release $1 million approved by the Legislature to help with its formation. The reason? There’s no place to send the money. The Advocate’s Terry Jones has the latest on an effort that began as an effort to carve a majority-white school district out of a majority-Black parish. 

Louisiana’s Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne had asked State Treasurer John Schroder not to disburse the funds, even though the Legislature and governor had approved them. Dardenne and Schroder each noted the proposed city in southeast East Baton Rouge Rouge Parish has yet to be officially formed. “It is my understanding that the status of the city of St. George is still subject to legal challenges and therefore the city has not, as of this date, been legally incorporated,” Dardenne wrote in a June 20 letter to Schroder.

Democrats try to jumpstart stalled economic package 
Congressional Democratic leaders have finalized a proposal to lower prescription drug prices for seniors. Generally, the retooled plan enables the federal government to negotiate the prices of certain drugs on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries, a move Democrats say will reduce costs. But the proposal is also part of a larger plan by the majority party to appease Sen. Joe Manchin and revive their long-stalled economic package. The Washington Post’s Tony Romm has more on the timing and urgency of new economic relief. 

Privately, Schumer has told members of his caucus that a swift resolution would allow them to bring a new bill to the floor in late July, one of the sources said. To meet that goal, Democrats plan to present their new drug pricing proposal as soon as this week to the Senate’s parliamentarian, the sources said. … The renewed effort among Democrats to resurrect their agenda reflects the political and economic urgency of the moment. For more than a year, party lawmakers have scrambled to deliver on promises they made during the last election, including pledges to lower drug costs. But they have largely been unable to do so, stymied by one of their own members — an opposition that many Democrats fear might cost them control of Congress come November.

Number of the Day 
6,377 – Number of U.S. newspapers at the end of May, down from 8,891 in 2005. Papers have been closing at the rate of two per week since late 2019. Most of the 360 papers that have closed since 2019 were weekly papers serving small communities. (Source: Northwestern University via Associated Press)