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What New Data Says about Debt-Free College

New data shows that young people who don’t fit within the current college system are facing great hardship in today’s workforce. This sheds valuable insight into the debt-free college debate, the charge for injecting more money into the federal student aid system at the top of Democrat’s 2016 election talking points.

With outstanding student loans topping $1.2 trillion, it’s little wonder that Democrats from Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Elizabeth Warren, and even Hillary Clinton are choosing to make tackling student debt a priority.

But student debt is the biggest problem for non-completers, who are increasingly unable to find decent work. Good job options have become so limited for non-graduates that the millions of young Americans who do not perfectly fit into the standard college mold now find themselves at an inherent disadvantage.

Indeed, my analysis of the latest labor force data highlights the plight of young people with some college but no degree. Since 2000, young people aged 16-24 neither enrolled in school nor in the labor force in June with some college or an Associate’s degree has increased by 700,000, or about 120%.  (Overall, young people aged 16-24 neither enrolled in school nor in the labor force in June increased by 1.4 million, or 27%, since 2000.) This chart considers June to get best sense of underlying trends in young people not in school.*

LaborForce

The implication is that we need better workforce preparedness options for those without a college degree, not simply debt-free college. The policies that comprise “debt-free college” merely throw more resources at propping up the current higher education system. For Bernie Sanders, that means free tuition. For Martin O’Malley, it means regulating tuition and expanding federal grants to schools and students. For Hillary Clinton, it’s just a conceptual endorsement that everyone should graduate college, and without debt.

Such policies are short-sighted. Rising student debt is a symptom not of inadequate federal funding, but of a broken federal financial aid system and of a higher education system in need of a shake-up. Greater transfers of money from taxpayers to students and schools will only exacerbate the challenges young people face in today’s labor market, by discouraging needed innovation in higher education. It quickly turns into an expensive and inefficient way to match workers with jobs.

Indeed, with the falling costs of information-sharing, thanks to the proliferation of high-speed broadband, and promising rise of innovation in education technology, there should be a downward pressure in college tuition. And with more people than ever graduating college, we should see an overall rise in real earnings. Yet college costs continue to rise at a faster pace than inflation, and the real earnings of young graduates have fallen 12% in the last decade.

By perpetuating the status-quo, policies that comprise debt-free college will not enhance opportunity and social mobility for those who need it – it will only widen the gap between young Americans with and without a degree. The barriers to innovation in higher education will remain, along with a lack of incentive to provide higher education more efficiently and effectively. Instead of introducing productivity-enhancing reforms to deal with rising enrollments and falling state funding, such as customized education or hybrid learning, higher education institutions can continue to use federal student aid to fill budget holes. In fact, groundbreaking new research from the NY Federal Reserve directly ties increases in federal student aid eligibility to increases in tuition.

Without serious reform, we cannot possibly hope to realize the enormous potential coming from the tech sector to transform the design and delivery of higher education and workforce training. Happily there is promise for real progress: a Senate HELP hearing last week focused on need for breaking down barriers to innovation in higher education. Still, until Democrats move past the “debt-free college” approach, and the notion that college degrees are the only answer, 2016-themed rhetoric on college affordability will be little more than that.

*Note: Enrollment and labor force figures in June have been comparable with those in July over time, for those who are interested in complete mid-summer analysis.


Chuka Umunna: These are “perilous times” for the Left

On Wednesday, PPI hosted a lunch event at the National Press Club, “Progressives for Innovation and Growth: A Transatlantic Conversation,” on the economic challenge facing center-left parties. There, Chuka Umanna–Labour MP for Streatham and UK Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills– gave the following keynote address:

Thank you so much to Will and the entire Progressive Policy Institute team for organising this gathering and inviting me to speak.

It is no secret that, as we sought to modernise the UK Labour Party in the 1990s and transform ourselves from a party of protest to a credible party of government, we drew much inspiration from President Clinton and the New Democrats. PPI was an incubator of so many of the ideas of that time which took the New Democrats into office. You were the original modernisers.

Unfortunately my party is suffering a relapse. We were established to be the political wing of working people in Britain, resolutely focused on ensuring that everyone has a stake in the future. But, too often over the last five years in opposition we behaved like a party of protest. Now we urgently need to modernise again so people can trust us to govern once more and fulfil our historic covenant with those that founded our Party.

The Democrats here have bucked the trend of progressive parties across the advanced world – the trend of losing General Elections since the global financial crisis. So, coming back to tap into your thinking and exchange views is a no-brainer.

Progressive challenge

We meet at perilous times for centre left “progressive” parties, across advanced economies.

We face a resurgent Conservative Party who have told a story about debt and deficit issues following the global financial crisis far more effectively than progressives. That crisis was a failure of the laissez-faire economic model the centre right were in thrall to and yet they have made the political weather since 2008/9.

In opposing the centre-right, we also compete with the populist left – in particular on economic policy – and the populist right – on issues of identity and belonging. I will touch on all this shortly.

The Danish Social Democrats provide the most recent example. In spite of winning the largest share of the vote by a comfortable margin in their General Election last month, they are out of power.

In May the British Labour Party went down to our worst defeat since 1983. The defeat comprised different elements: a failure to tackle Conservative hegemony in the Southern regions of England outside London; a challenge by the populist right – in the form of the UK Independence Party – in seats in the North of England; and a wipe out at the behest of the Scottish Nationalist Party in Scotland. A perfect storm.

It was England primarily that delivered the Conservative majority. We must win back support in Scotland but will need to prioritise taking seats from the Conservatives in England if we are to win again.

I cannot cover all of the reasons for our defeat but I shall make some observations on what it says about the challenges progressives face across the advanced world in this era of globalisation.

Economic competence

In the immediate aftermath of our defeat people have naturally prayed in aid arguments to suit their particular political perspective. But most agree our perceived lack of economic competence severely compromised our ability to gain the support needed to win.

It wasn’t that people like the Conservatives more than us – far from it – but they felt voting Labour represented a risk in a world of uncertainty. This was particularly so amongst older voters who vote in greater numbers and amongst whom support for Labour since 2010 dropped by eight points.

How did this come to pass?

Rahm Emanuel famously said you should never let a serious crisis go to waste. Our Conservative rivals heeded this advice, as did many other centre right parties across Europe. The 2008/9 crash occurred under our watch and they used it ruthlessly to make their argument.

In the UK the crash had precipitated a recession that brought about a collapse in tax revenues leading to a deficit of 11.1 per cent of GDP in 2009/10. This was inevitably going to have to be dealt with once demand and growth returned. So from 2008 in opposition through to government in 2010, Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne reframed the economic debate in our country from one centred around the need for demand stimulus, to one resolutely focused on deficit and debt reduction.

Osborne argued that the Labour Government’s domestic spending before the crash had threatened our economy, and went on to argue – successfully – through the last Parliament, that if elected again, we would borrow, spend and tax more than the Conservatives. In so doing, our values were attacked too – they argued that not only were we incompetent, but that we were reckless and irresponsible too.

It was a ludicrous argument. We had reduced the national debt from 42 per cent of GDP in 1997 to 37 per cent of GDP on the eve of the crash in 2007. Before the crisis hit the deficit was small and unremarkable, averaging 1.3 per cent from 1997 to 2007 compared to 3.2 per cent beforehand under the previous 18 years of Tory rule. Indeed, so relaxed was Mr Osborne about borrowing before the crash that he signed up to our spending plans in 2007.

No matter. Mr Osborne’s argument stuck. As you would expect, he was greatly assisted by the fact that – notwithstanding the fact that the Labour government did not cause the crisis – the crash occurred whilst we were in office. But this was compounded because, once we left office, we failed to sufficiently concede where we went wrong – not properly regulating the banks and rebalancing our economy so we weren’t so exposed when the crash hit; in turn this compromised our ability to communicate what we got right.

At the general election just passed we had good policy to better balance our economy between sectors and regions, and to improve our trade position, but this was drowned out by the noise being made in relation to our alleged past economic misdemeanours on the deficit.

We were also not helped by some of the rhetoric the party deployed which gave the impression that we were against wealth creation and the productive businesses we would need to help us reform the economy if elected

Going forward we will need to ensure any weakness in our fiscal position is dealt with. It starts by asserting again and again that reducing our borrowing is a progressive endeavour – much as Democratic Nominee Bill Clinton did in 1992. We will need policy positions consistent with this goal. But, we must relate this to our values: compassion to ensure all have the support they need to get on; a responsibility to run sound public finances so we have resources to invest in people.

A vision of the future

We also failed to set out a vision of the future of our economy and our country that all could rally around.

Much of what we said focused on how terrible the country was and how we would regulate and clamp down on the many vested interests that we identified as being the source of all ills. This was hardly an optimistic, positive and patriotic story about what our country is and could be in the future. So, little wonder that even if voters did not believe the economy had improved under the Tories, too few believed it would get any better under Labour.

As globalisation has marched on and left too many behind, there has been an increasing sense in our country that the economy is not being run in the interests of people who work hard, play by the rules and do the right thing. In the absence of a positive narrative to explain how under a smart, enterprising Labour government every person and family would be empowered to take advantage of the opportunities the new digitally connected world can bring, social security and immigration dominated.

The social security bill was consistently one of the top three issues throughout the last Parliament. We spend more than £200bn a year – almost a third of all government spending – on the welfare state and this is not sustainable in the long run.

The Conservatives have chosen, in the main, to target entitlements the working poor and vulnerable receive to help make work pay – as the best way of reducing the social security bill. This is not something we would entertain. But we failed to set out an alternative way of reducing the benefits bill that convinced. In fact, we voted against every single social security measure put through parliament which helped reinforce the notion that we were not serious at getting to grips with this.

The price of successful politics is a constructive alternative and we did not have one. We need to rebuild support for our welfare state by setting out an alternative that puts notions of contribution and responsibility at its heart – where we all have a responsibility to work when we can and contribute in to the system if we want to we take out. That is what most people mean by fairness.

In addition to this, Ukip have sought to place blame for the lack of fairness in the system with immigrants. Many blue collar workers have understandably been troubled by the impact of immigration on our labour market. Whatever arguments are made by business of the necessity of immigration, for many blue collar workers it has meant more competition for jobs and the undercutting of their wages. The funding of public services has also been too slow to take account of population changes, putting local public services in some areas under pressure. This has proved toxic and provided fertile terrain for the populist right to use for their own divisive agenda.

The solution is not to pander to anti-immigrant sentiment or ignore it but to ensure proper enforcement of labour market rules and that new arrivals contribute into our system before they take out.

But, if we are to tackle the underlying causes of concern about social security and immigration, we must implement modern industrial strategies to stimulate innovation, grow the industries that produce better paying jobs, give people an education that match the needs of our industries, and give them the skills to connect into the digital global economy. Our education systems currently are simply not up to the job of giving workers the skills to adapt throughout their working lives to multiple career changes and constant technological advance. Again, we defended the status quo.

Above all, we need a system which doesn’t just treat people as commodities but where we value the work people do – the vocational and technical as well as the academic – and give them more of a say and greater employee engagement in the work place, fostering a greater sense of power and security in an uncertain, fast-changing world. This was not sufficiently central to our message – it must be for all progressive parties.

In other words there is work to do; real heavy lifting on the relationship between the economy and welfare if we are to win again.

National identity and belonging

The debate on immigration is symptomatic of the wider impact of globalisation.

People feel increasingly powerless in an age of globalisation that has brought about insecurity for so many. As a result, issues of belonging and cultural identity have taken on an increased importance as people search for security and solidarity in a fast changing world.

They are also increasingly mistrustful of a political elite who they believe is remote, passing laws and pulling levers at the centre, at a time when people want more power for themselves and autonomy for their communities. Progressives ignore this at our peril. If we do not address it, nationalism will flourish, which brings me to Scotland.

Although we were on the winning side of the argument in the September 2014 Scottish independence referendum, we lost 40 of our 41 seats there to the Scottish Nationalist Party at the General Election this year.

The rise of nationalism there was a factor that has deep, cultural roots. But, more than that, the constitutional issue of independence had become intertwined with issues of social justice. Whereas the English have tended to be slightly to the right of the Labour Party on economic matters, Scottish voters tend to the left of the party. The 2014 referendum campaign did not deliver the result the SNP desired, but it did give them the opportunity to set out a vision of the kind of independent Scotland they wished to create. In 2015 they successfully argued that an independent Scotland would be more progressive, stand up and protect them in a changing world.

In a sense, what we are witnessing – as the psephologist who came closest to predicting the UK result, Professor John Curtis of Strathclyde University, has argued – is the end of British electoral politics as we know it. He argues that the first break came in the 1970s when the links between Northern Ireland’s politics and the rest of the UK’s were broken; he argues we have just witnessed the second break where Scotland’s politics takes on a different character to that of the rest of UK, powered by issues of national belonging and cultural identity.

I think we can maintain the union but we should embrace people’s natural desire in our different nations to have more autonomy over their own affairs and give voice to the different cultural identities in the UK, whilst maintaining the benefits that the pooling and sharing of resources across the constituent parts of the UK brings. This is why I believe we need a more federal structure for the nations of the UK with a new English Parliament to sit alongside bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We need a federal Labour Party too which recognises the unique character of each nation.

With a federal UK structure no nation will feel left out; each nation’s voice can be properly heard whilst maintaining a UK parliament that will be stronger as a result. To facilitate this we should establish a Constitutional Convention with all elements of political and civil society willing to participate, to settle this issue this Parliament. This is bread and butter for you here where the constitution takes pride of place. It would represent radical but much needed change in our country. It would be constructive of our renewal – government of the people, by the people, for the people perhaps.

Conclusion

I want to conclude in making a final observation. Our offer and the debate during the election was far too parochial.

If one considers what has had the greatest impact economically on people’s wallets in the first half of this year, it was the price of oil per barrel coming down to around $58 – an international phenomenon. The multinationals we seek not only to work with but ensure pay their fair share and play by rules, know no borders. And the biggest challenges we face, be it environmental or global terrorism, cross borders in a way they did not before.

This says to me that we can only ultimately build a fairer more equal world in an era of globalisation if we as progressives become far more organised and co-ordinated at a supra national level. For the UK that starts with maintaining our membership of the European Union in the coming EU referendum, but it extends beyond that to other institutions like the UN, the WTO. A better networked state in the modern age will be better placed to help its people thrive in this new era.

I look forward to working with you, in common cause and for the Common Good in the years ahead.

 

 


PPI Statement on Iran Nuclear Deal

Progressive Policy Institute President Will Marshall today released the following statement after the announcement of a landmark nuclear agreement between the United States, Iran, and five other world powers:

“Even before today’s nuclear deal with Iran was struck, President Obama’s critics accused him of giving away the store. Now the burden of proof falls on them to show why no deal is better than this deal.

“No deal means no constraints on Iran’s ability to enrich uranium and produce plutonium, giving it two paths to nuclear weapons. How will perpetuating this dangerous status quo make America or its allies safer?

“In contrast, the agreement reached in Vienna today between major world powers and Iran closes both paths to the bomb for the next decade. It also extends the embargo on missiles and bars Iran from designing warheads and testing nuclear detonators. Crucially, Iran has agreed to submit to more intrusive inspections than required by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“There’s no question, in short, that the deal moves Iran back from the nuclear threshold. Capping nearly two years of hard bargaining, it is a major diplomatic achievement for President Obama and his two Secretaries of State: Hillary Clinton and especially the indefatigable John Kerry.

“But it’s also a victory for collective security. The United States alone could not have wrung concessions from Iran without strong backing from its negotiating partners, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. Congress needs to keep that fact in mind as it takes up the accord. Unilateral action by U.S. lawmakers risks cracking the extraordinary united front the international community has maintained against Iran’s nuclear program.

“The agreement is far from perfect—no diplomatic deal ever is. Large questions remain about how and when sanctions on Iran will be lifted, and what happens 10 years from now when Iran resumes nuclear enrichment with more modern equipment, ostensibly to fuel civilian nuclear power. But the President has made undeniable progress, and he deserves progressives’—and the country’s—support.”

# # #


LeBron James and the Do-Something Democrats: Support for Democrats “In the Arena” on Trade

In this year’s NBA Finals, LeBron James cemented his reputation as one of the greatest basketball players of all time­—becoming the first player in Finals history to lead both teams in points, rebounds, and assists in every game, and averaging an astounding 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists for the six-game series.

In addition to his basketball prowess, Lebron is also a student of oratory and leadership. When faced with criticism and second-guessing, he’s frequently cited Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 address on “Citizenship in a Republic,” popularly known as the “Man in the Arena” speech. Like Roosevelt, LeBron believes that:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds. . . . “

In Washington’s ongoing trade battles, there’s a group of Democratic House Members and Senators who are displaying the type of grit and determination that both TR and LBJ would almost certainly admire. These are the 28 House Democrats and 14 Democratic Senators who’ve voted to advance Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, often in the face of intense criticism from anti-trade forces.

These Democrats support a forward-looking trade agenda that includes critical priorities for progressives, including strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards, and new rules to protect innovation, to assure open digital commerce, and to “democratize” trade for small business and consumers. As pro-growth Democrats, they understand that increased trade can tap a burgeoning global middle class and help power more inclusive economic growth for middle class Americans.

These Democrats are also realists—and doers. They understand that writing modern rules for liberal trade is a messy and often-thankless task that requires hard work and perseverance. They appreciate that trade is always a negotiation and recognize the need for principled compromise among Congressional colleagues, the Administration, foreign governments, and the many and varied interests that make up America’s economic and social fabric.

While these Democrats know that they won’t achieve everything they seek, they also believe that it is vital to stand with the long line of Democrats—from FDR and Truman to JFK and Bill Clinton—who have progressively built an increasingly effective rules-based trading system that has fostered global peace and prosperity, lifted millions worldwide out of poverty, and continues to deliver substantial benefits to all Americans.

Many Democrats who have opposed TPA say that they support increased trade and stronger trade rules, and that they want to achieve the best deal for America. These TPA critics may be sincere, but they often offer only nebulous ideas on how to achieve these important ends.

Pragmatic, do-something Democrats, on the other hand, recognize the Trade Promotion Authority offers the only realistic, near-term means of achieving the outcomes that so many Democrats claim to want.  They know that our negotiating partners will never table their best and final offers to open markets or raise standards without TPA. And they understand that the United States will never achieve anything meaningful in trade if our trading partners must effectively negotiate with 535 members of Congress. This is especially so after last’s week’s spectacle in which labor and anti-trade groups prevailed on House Democrats to kill worker adjustment assistance—a six-decade Democratic priority—in a cynical bid to scuttle TPA and the overall trade agenda.

Pro-trade Democratic Members understand that key portions of the progressive coalition, including Democrats (58%), millennials (69%), Hispanics (71%), and mayors, believe that trade deals are good for the United States. But they’re not asking Americans to sign a blank check for new agreements. Under the leadership of Senator Ron Wyden, Congressman Ron Kind, and others, they’ve worked hard to assure that TPA includes unprecedented new transparency provisions, including the requirement that the text of any new trade deal be posted on the Internet for months before it is ever brought to a vote.

In a news conference before the NBA Finals, LeBron offered a pithy addendum to his favorite Roosevelt quote. When asked to guarantee a championship, LeBron said that he could only guarantee that “we will play our asses off.”

It’s time for Democrats who say they support expanded trade and progressive rules to get off of the sidelines—and to join the do-something Democrats who are “in the arena” sweating and striving towards those vital goals.


Mandel: Eliminating an Obsolete Regulation at the FCC (Updated)

Update (6/11/15): PPI applauds the FCC’s adoption of the “effective competition” order on June 2 (explained below). This order acknowledges the reality that on most cable systems, the video channels subject to “effective competition” from other providers, both satellite and landline. The FCC order says in part: “As a result, each franchising authority will be prohibited from regulating basic cable rates. unless it successfully demonstrates that the cable system is not subject to Competing Provider Effective Competition.”

This is not the FCC making new law…rather, this is the FCC enforcing the provisions of existing law, which clearly states the conditions under which basic cable service rates can be freed from local regulation.  Given the importance of eliminating or rewriting outmoded regulations wherever possible, the FCC has done the right thing.


 

5/13/15

PPI favors the elimination or rewriting of outmoded regulations wherever possible. We believe that clearing the deadwood of obsolete rules is a win-win for consumers, workers, and businesses, allowing regulators to focus limited resources on more important issues while freeing companies to innovate faster.

That’s why we strongly favor FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to streamline the “effective competition” rule for cable video providers. Cable television has long been one of the most regulated industries in the economy, including regulation of their rates by local authorities. The justification for such price controls—not acceptable for most industries—was the lack of meaningful competition from other video providers.

But the world has changed. Today many if not most cable video systems face a wide range of competitors from satellite providers such as DISH and telecom companies such as AT&T and Verizon, not to mention new internet-based video services such as Netflix and Amazon.

The legislation governing cable operators allows them to be relieved of some regulatory burdens—including rate regulation by local authorities–if the FCC rules that they face “effective competition.” The legislation includes several possible tests for effective competition, including a satellite video provider or other competitor having 15% of the pay video market, or if a phone company is offering video service in the area.

These hurdles are not hard to reach, given the prevalence of satellite and other video competitors. As a result, the FCC has ruled in favor of effective competition on almost all the hearings on this subject since 2013.

Nevertheless, up to now, cable video companies have had to go through a long and burdensome process to get regulatory relief. That is why Wheeler is proposing to simplify the process by adapting it to market realities. Challengers would have to demonstrate that effective competition did not exist in a particular location. The net result is that a larger number of cable video providers would have greater freedom to compete and innovate.

Given the amount of competition to cable, it is unlikely that cable video rates would suddenly jump. After all, with the prevalence of alternatives, and subscriber growth having topped out, why should cable companies drive away customers?

We have had disagreements with Chairman Wheeler, particularly around the Open Internet issue. But on this issue, his approach to cleaning up the regulatory process makes excellent sense for both consumers and companies.


PPI Applauds Senate Passage of TPA

PPI applauds the Senate for passing Trade Promotion Authority and taking a key step in assuring that America continues to be a global leader in crafting strong, progressive trade rules that will help grow our economy and support good jobs—while also advancing important American values.

As PPI has detailed in recent reports on the Administration’s trade agenda and open digital trade, new U.S. trade agreements can make vital progress on issues that are important to Democrats and progressives. They can, for example, tap a growing global middle class to power more inclusive American economic growth, expand the reach of strong rules on labor rights and environment protection, reform past agreements like NAFTA, and “democratize” trade by empowering entrepreneurs, small businesses, and consumers to more directly participate in and benefit from global commerce.

TPA would provide a fair and more open process for considering new trade agreements, and would obligate future Administrations—both Democrat and Republican—to pursue these and other progressive provisions in future trade agreements, as well.

Finally, today’s vote illustrates the leverage that pro-growth, pro-trade Democrats can exercise in trade debates. As trade legislation moves to the House, PPI urges Democrats to continue to work constructively to build smart, progressive policies that enhance America’s global competitiveness. In addition to support for TPA, these efforts should include a comprehensive program of reform—in education, training, innovation, infrastructure, and more—like that proposed in the New Democrat Coalition’s American Prosperity Agenda. Unlike reflexive opposition to new trade initiatives, this approach will assure that America—and more Americans—can share in the significant benefits of global growth.


PPI Statement on Senate Trade Vote: Don’t Misread Vote as Repudiation of TPA

It would be a huge mistake to misread today’s Senate trade vote as a repudiation of Trade Promotion Authority and the U.S. trade agenda. The pro-trade Democrats who provided the decisive votes today were not voting against TPA, but were seeking to include other trade measures—including those on trade enforcement and trade with Africa—in the debate. There are various ways to address concerns about these important issues and we hope that trade supporters in the Senate can work together to craft a solution that allows the vital debate on trade to proceed.

As PPI has explained in recent reports on the Obama Administration’s trade agenda and on open digital trade, new U.S. trade agreements have the potential to advance goals that are important to Democrats and progressives. These new initiatives can, for example, tap a growing global middle class to help power American economic growth, expand the reach of strong rules on labor rights and environment protections, update past agreements like NAFTA, and “democratize” trade by empowering entrepreneurs, small businesses and consumers to more directly participate in and benefit from global commerce. TPA would provide a fair and considered process for considering new trade deals, and would obligate future Administrations—both Democrat and Republican—to seek these and other progressive provisions in future trade agreements, as well.

Today’s developments illustrate the leverage that pro-trade Democrats can exercise in trade debates. PPI hopes that more Democrats will engage in constructive efforts to build and support a progressive pro-trade agenda. Simply working to kill TPA legislation, and other reflexive opposition to new trade initiatives, does little to advance important progressive goals.


PPI WEEKLY WRAP-UP: Trade for the 99 Percent, UK Elections and EU Digital Agenda

TRADE FOR THE 99%: On Tuesday, PPI released The Digital Opportunity: Democratizing Trade for the 99 Percent. Authored by Ed Gerwin, PPI Senior Fellow for Trade and Global Opportunity, the new policy brief highlights some of the many ways in which “democratized” trade in the global digital economy benefits America’s 99 percent—from entrepreneurs and small businesses to consumers and communities. The brief details why it is critical for America to lead in writing modern trade rules that promote the free flow of data and open digital commerce. Gerwin summarized the findings of his policy brief in an op-ed for Republic 3.0, The Digital Economy, Trade Agreements and the 99 Percent.

UK ELECTIONS: Earlier this week, PPI President Will Marshall wrote an op-ed for CNN on how the fracturing of Britain’s once stable political order will make it difficult for the incoming Prime Minister to form a strong and coherent government, and the implications that will have on Britain’s role in the EU and their relationship with the US.

Today, the day after the election, Marshall provided a follow-up piece to CNN distilling a few key lessons from the oddest British election in memory.

EU DIGITAL AGENDA: On Thursday, the European Commission unveiled a digital single market for Europe. PPI Chief Economist Dr. Michael Mandel wrote this week that the digital single market is essential for the success of the EU economy, but it should be built on principles of openness and encouragement of innovation, not higher levels of regulation that will discourage both.

LABOR PRODUCTIVITY: Mandel penned a response on Wednesday to the release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) first quarter labor productivity and costs report. Mandel calculates that ten-year productivity growth plunged to a startling 1.4% in the first quarter of 2015, the lowest level since the 1980s. Moreover, Mandel estimates that the slowdown in productivity growth since 2000 is responsible for two-thirds of the decline in real compensation growth, a key measure of living standards. His conclusion: The sharp fall in productivity growth is the major reason why Americans feel so squeezed. Growth policies are key.

HEALTHCARE JOB BUBBLE?
: A recent policy report on tech employment, authored by Mandel and PPI Economist Diana Carew, calculated that women have been getting three times as many healthcare-related bachelor’s degrees as men. But according to Mandel, the healthcare employment boom may actually represent a bubble, warning that college students and administrators may be overestimating the safety and security of healthcare careers. If the bubble bursts, women may bear the brunt. Given the strong possibility of such a change, progressives should support a diversification of college degrees out of healthcare and into other growing areas such as tech.

MOTOR CITY SCHOOLS MAKEOVER: In an op-ed for U.S. News & World Report, PPI senior fellow and director of the Reinventing America’s Schools Project, David Osborne examines a new plan by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to set up a Detroit Education Commission that would have the power to measure school performance, create a common enrollment system for all public schools, close mediocre schools (charter and traditional) and replace them with new schools (charter and traditional). Osborne writes, “This would be a huge step forward: For the first time, Detroit would have a citywide portfolio manager with the power to steer both the traditional and charter sectors toward higher performance.”