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Morning Brief: Fodder for the “Fair Share” Debate

by Renewing America Staff
August 7, 2012

Morning commuters stroll past the New York Stock Exchange (Brendan McDermid/Courtesy Reuters). Morning commuters stroll past the New York Stock Exchange (Brendan McDermid/Courtesy Reuters).

The Wall Street Journal’s David Wessel provides some facts for the debate over what tax rate higher-income Americans should pay. Since the 1980s, top earners have garnered a larger share of income, but are paying an even bigger slice of federal taxes. Average tax rates have declined for almost everyone, and the bottom 40 percent have seen declines in both income share and tax share. Overall, the country’s progressive tax system has lessened the trend of greater income inequality, yet inequality continues to rise.

Pennsylvania Ends State Aid Program

Pennsylvania ended its general assistance program which provided about $200 a month in temporary aid to nearly 70,000 of its citizens (Stateline). The program’s cancellation is expected to save $150 million annually, but advocacy groups are pointing to the difficulty many Pennsylvanians will now face in covering life’s necessities. Implementation of the cuts has attracted controversy. Before the program was eliminated, the state’s welfare agency had begun telling recipients their benefits would be cut. Some officials warned that case workers could face disciplinary action if they told aid recipients to contact lawmakers in protest.

Debt and deficits. Read more from experts on the challenges in reducing U.S. debt.

Innovation

How Leading Firms Stoke Innovation

The Hay Group’s annual ranking of the best companies for leadership is a list of firms that also excel in innovation (HBR). Experts say innovative companies create an environment that encourages and rewards taking calculated risks, and allows good ideas to take root regardless of their origin. They allow employees’ roles to adapt to changes in the marketplace, while promoting collaboration. Finally, firms that innovate celebrate their successes, while accepting and learning from failures.

Renewing America Director Edward Alden says that policies focusing only on ensuring that big innovations come from within U.S. borders may be misguided because so much innovation is global, and the U.S. economy can benefit from innovations developed elsewhere.

Innovation. Read more on how the U.S. capacity to innovate could play a chief role in economic growth.

Education and Human Capital

Teachers Struggles to Balance Unionism and Reform

Delegates at the recent conference of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers (AFT) took a tougher position on issues such as high-stakes standardized testing, perhaps signaling a split between union leadership and many members (Education Week). The smaller of the two national teachers unions, the AFT has been more open to educational reform in recent years, even supporting the move to Common Core State Standards.

The report of CFR’s Independent Task Force on U.S. Education Reform and National Security, co-chaired by Joel I. Klein and Condoleezza Rice, highlights the importance of the Common Core State Standards and asserts that fixing the nation’s underperforming K-12 schools is critical to economic competitiveness and national security.

Education and human capital. Read more from experts discussing ways to improve U.S. education and immigration policies.

The Morning Brief is compiled by Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich.

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