Matt Bruenig takes on one of the sacred cows of the left-of-center policy world in this paper, by arguing that the consensus view of the EITC is all wrong. The EITC does not increase work, is one of the most administratively efficient welfare programs in the country, and only reduces poverty by half as much as commonly reported.
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Hello fellow patrons. Earlier today, Bernie Sanders released a plan to provide free public child care and pre-k to all children below school age.
We also released a new short report today (above) in which we publish a poll showing that this plan is very popular and show that it is affordable. Please read and share widely.
This is another big get for the mighty People's Policy Project, the most efficient think tank in the game.
The US welfare state has a lot of problems. Most conspicuously, it lacks many benefits found in similarly developed countries like child care, paid leave, and universal health care. These omissions tend to dominate the public debate, but creating a decent welfare system will require more than just adding new benefits. We also need to clean up and rationalize the welfare state we already have.
In this paper, I propose a series of moderate reforms to major welfare programs including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Unemployment Insurance, and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. The overall purpose of these proposed reforms is to move towards a welfare state that is simpler, more coherent, and more centralized.
Another year has passed for the only small-donor think tank in the game and I'm proud to report that this has been our most effective year yet, as far as effectiveness goes in the think tank game.
The ideas in these proposals, and ideas from proposals in years past, have made their way into presidential platforms, Congressional legislation, and The Discourse more generally.
Bernie Sanders adopted the Green TVA as the centerpiece of his Green New Deal proposal. In line with the Global Green New Deal proposal, Sanders also pledged $200 billion in climate transfers to the global south via the Green Climate Fund. Prior to our paper on the subject, even left-wing climate policy people in the US were saying we should be aiming for $20-$30 billion from the entire global north.
Insofar as Sanders is the agenda-setter for the American left, I think it is accurate to say that the 3P GND papers have had the most unique influence in shaping the actual content of the GND idea beyond pre-existing consensus climate measures.
Kirsten Gillibrand adopted a few ideas from the Family Fun Pack for her presidential campaign and currently three (soon to be four) viable candidates for Congress have endorsed the Family Fun Pack in full. One hears there may be some interest on this among existing members of Congress as well, but we will see what the next year brings.
This year also saw an explosion in interest in our housing proposal from last year, called Social Housing for America. This paper argues that the US should build 10 million units of mixed-income social housing and explains how best to do that. As noted recently in eagle-eyed coverage by Next City, when we released this paper in 2018, "it wasn't obvious that the ideas would get much traction."
At the time, many characterized the proposal as niche left-wing navel-gazing meant to distract from real housing solutions. Yet this year, the social housing approach became a major feature of national left-wing politics. Along with other organizations, Peter Gowan, who co-wrote Social Housing for America with Ryan Cooper, continued to develop the social housing proposal into something called the Homes Guarantee. The particulars of this social housing proposal has found its way into Bernie Sanders's presidential platform and into a bill introduced in Congress by Ilhan Omar.
In addition to influencing existing politicians and The Discourse, 3P has also branched out this year into endorsements. We have endorsed three candidates for Congress: Rebecca Parson, Ihssane Leckey, and Heidi Sloan (make a three-way split donation to those candidates here).
Each candidate has a decent chance of winning a seat and each supports major progressive policy proposals like Medicare for All, Green New Deal, Social Housing, and the Family Fun Pack. As measured by ActBlue, our early endorsements tend to drive around $1k-$2k in small donations to each campaign from 3P supporters, which can help financially jump start campaigns with little establishment support. Many of those donors also make additional subsequent contributions.
In my commitment to brevity, I won't go on, but it suffices to say that this was a successful year and 3P continues to be the best and most efficient dollar-for-dollar think tank in the game.
One time for this folks.
3P is proud to announce the last of its three major endorsements for the 2020 congressional elections. The endorsement is for Rebecca Parson who is running for Congress in the 6th district of Washington. That seat is currently occupied by conservative Democrat Derek Kilmer.
Parson is running on key progressive agenda items like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and social housing. She has also endorsed the People’s Policy Project slate of family benefits, which includes paid parental leave, free child care and pre-k, free school lunches, and a monthly cash benefit paid to every family with children.
Parson’s opponent, Derek Kilmer, is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, despite representing a safely Democratic district. He is the chair of the third-way New Democrat Coalition and a member of the ridiculous Problem Solvers Caucus. In 2016, he used his superdelegate vote for Hillary Clinton even though Bernie Sanders won his district. If we want to get anything done in this country, we need more Parsons in elected office and less Kilmers.
Hey folks. 3P has just announced our second of three major endorsements for the 2020 Congressional races. It is Heidi Sloan running to unseat Republican Roger Williams in Texas's 25th district.
Sloan is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and is running on key progressive agenda items like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and social housing. She has also endorsed the People’s Policy Project slate of family benefits, which includes paid parental leave, free child care and pre-k, free school lunches, and a monthly cash benefit paid to every family with children.
Our last endorsement went really well. Leckey got a decent fundraising bump and many other candidates reached out, interested in endorsing some of our policy proposals. This is more valuable than you might imagine.
Hey everyone. 3P is going to try its hand at endorsing some progressive primary challengers who have adopted our policies for their campaign. Going upstream like this, rather than trying only to convince sitting members of Congress, could be an effective way to grow support for these ideas.
Our first endorsement ever is Ihssane Leckey who has adopted the Family Fun Pack alongside Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and social housing. She is running in MA against Joe Kennedy III. You can click through to read the full endorsement. Please donate if you can as it not only helps Leckey but also can signal to other candidates that adopting our policy ideas is a smart move that will bring in support.
Jacob Fawcett produced this paper, which argues that the US should dedicate $680 billion per year towards transfers to the developing world so that the developing world can decarbonize. The money would go to the UN Green Climate Fund, which would then provide it for decarbonization projects.
This is our fourth Green New Deal paper. Our GND papers aim to provide detailed plans for particular pieces of the GND agenda with an eye towards inclusion of those plans in a broader final proposal.
The much-teased Family Fun Pack paper is out. The paper makes the case for a comprehensive set of family benefits -- baby box, parental leave, free child care, free pre-k, free school lunch, free healthcare for children, and a child allowance. The paper makes the case that high levels of child poverty and interfamily inequality is driven by the perverse ways in which capitalist economies distribute income and that only non-market forms of income distribution (in this case the welfare state) can fix these things.
The short summary of the paper (which can be found here) also separately makes the case that this is the best welfare platform possible for the Democratic party as currently composed because of who it benefits.
Greetings patrons. The think tank has achieved a new milestone. Maryland delegate Vaughn Stewart, member of DSA, introduced a bill in the Maryland state house to create social housing in the state. This is the first time a 3P policy proposal has been introduced as a bill in a legislature. More of that is in the pipeline though.
Thanks for the continued support!
People’s Policy Project has released its seventh major paper: “Fighting Climate with a Green Tennessee Valley Authority.” The paper contains a brief proposal outlining how to use the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a public power company that is fully owned by the federal government, to decarbonize electricity generation across the country.
Alex Kaufman has coverage of the report at Huffington Post: New Proposal Aims To Make Legacy FDR Works Project The Flagship Of A Green New Deal.
More coverage will follow.
Thank you to everyone who continue to support People's Policy Project. This year was our first full year of operation and we have had a really outsized impact in The Discourse and also in direct consultations with staffers and members of congress.
We put out 5 major papers this year, all of which received coverage in major outlets and helped pushed the debate forward on the left.
1. Nathaniel Lewis -- Mass Incarceration: New Jim Crow, Class War, or Both?
2. Peter Gowan & Ryan Cooper -- Social Housing in the United States
3. Emmett Sanders -- Full Human Beings: An Argument for Incarcerated Voter Enfranchisement
4. Matt Bruenig -- Social Wealth Fund for America
5. Anders Fremstad and Mark Paul -- Disrupting the Dirty Economy: A Progressive Case for a Carbon Dividend
Papers 1 through 4 were designed by Jon White while paper 5 was designed by Max Holyoke-Hirsch. The Social Wealth Fund paper also featured a 3-minute animated video about the Alaska Permanent Fund, which was created by Bran Dougherty-Johnson.
All together, 19 different people contributed writing, editing, graphical design or similar to People's Policy Project this year, all of whom were reasonably compensated.
In addition to the major papers, we also published 108 shorter posts mostly pegged to news developments. The most impactful of those posts this year were the breakdowns of the Mercatus single payer report, which really shifted the narrative towards focusing on the way in which Medicare for All actually saves money overall.
We have not published a new major project since September 19 because it was determined that the elections would make it impossible to get attention and then came the holidays. But we have three projects that are fully conceptualized and should be ready to go soon.
1. Matt Bruenig -- Fighting Climate Change with a Green Tennessee Valley Authority. This is the second 3P contribution towards the Green New Deal (the first being the carbon tax paper). It provides a detailed vision of how to use the TVA to decarbonize electricity generation in the US. This paper is written, edited, and designed. We are just waiting for the proper time to release it.
2. Matt Bruenig -- Family Fun Pack. This paper provides a detailed account of a full suite of family benefits. This paper is written, edited, and is in the process of being designed.
3. Ryan Cooper -- Work Reduction. This paper provides policies aimed at shaving the number of hours Americans work each year. It has been written and is in the process of editing.
Thank you for all your support. Please tell your friends to chip in as well. Every contribution supports a growing ecosystem of PPP contributors.
3P is proud to release its sixth major paper. In this paper, Mark Paul and Anders Fremstad argue for a carbon tax equal to $230 per ton of CO2. Such a tax would produce a $2,237 per-capita dividend that, once paid out to every American, would significantly reduce overall inequality in the country. This kind of tax is necessary to keep the world from warming by more than 2.5C.
A brief summary of the paper is here.
Please share widely.
The 5th major report -- Social Wealth Fund for America -- is out. Please share it on all your social medias.
Video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePlAAf2b_Io
The next 3P report will be published publicly on August 28. We are trying something new with this report. Jon White has produced a stunning, full-color book version of it that we are selling to raise money for 3P.
A pdf and web version will of course go out to everyone on Aug 28.
Here is a link to the Shopify store to buy it: https://american-scraps.myshopify.com/products/3p-social-wealth-fund-report-print-edition
Hello patrons. The fourth paper (click here) is now out. In it, Emmett Sanders argues for truly universal suffrage, including for incarcerated people. In the appendix of the report, Esha P.K. and Natalie Holme Elsberg from the organization LEAP have produced three types of model legislation that states can use to implement this proposal along with a table showing which states should use which model.
Nathan Robinson has coverage of the paper at Current Affairs. I (Matt Bruenig) should have an op-ed publishing in the Guardian later today. The op-ed argues, among other things, that this could be a jumping off point for more ambitious prison abolitionist type campaigns in the same way that voting rights efforts were used as a jumping off point in the Civil Rights Movement.
The next paper is probably going to be the social wealth fund paper I've long teased but never written. There is also an animated video being produced to go along with it. So that should be fun.
We released our third paper today. This is our first paper with a specific policy proposal. The proposal is for governments around the country to build millions of units of social housing in order to solve housing shortages. Details are in the paper.
There is an op-ed in the Guardian about the proposal. There will be a piece in Jacobin later today about it. There may be some other media hits too. We'll see.
This paper took a little longer than I had expected. So apologies for the delay. The upside of the delay is that the next paper is already completely written and edited and so, after a quick design and the usual outreach, should be able to go very soon. The next paper proposes that prisoners be allowed to vote in elections.
I was on the first episode of a new show on Fusion called Happy Ending with Nando Villa (facebook video of the truncated episode here). The subject of the episode is capital and what to do about it. This should be an interesting show to watch going forward as we try to mainstream our ideas more. Future episode topics are health care with Tim Faust, labor with Sarah Jaffe, education, and so on. Basically all the issues and ideas bubbling from the left covered in an accessible format one episode at a time.
Also unrelated to this, I had a good day in the #influencer world. Old man Bernie linked to a MoJo article featuring my data on youth wealth. And Marco Rubio responded to a post I wrote about his paid leave plan.
The big project last month (I am trying to do one a month) was the Mass Incarceration paper, which showed that most of the racial disparity in incarceration can be explained by the fact that black men are heavily concentrated in the lower classes of American society.
It got decent pick up, including our first coverage at Mother Jones and The Intercept.
Jacobin: Locking Up the Lower Class
Mother Jones: The Race Gap in US Prisons Is Glaring, and Poverty Is Making it Worse
The Week: How do you fight racism in the criminal justice system? With brute-force economic policy.
The Intercept: New Report Finds Class Is a More Potent Predictor of Incarceration Than Race. But Racism Drives It.
I am hoping this month's big project will be a paper on social housing (our first paper proposing a policy as opposed to analytical papers). But we'll see how quickly that comes in.
Let me say at the start that I am very grateful for all the supporters who make this possible. We had a great first half-year and, as I become more experienced and established, things should get even better.
There are two papers in the pipeline right now.
The first is on race, class, and incarceration. The paper seeks to calculate racial and class disparities in incarceration as well as the interaction between those disparities.
The second is on social housing. The paper will provide a concrete policy idea that municipal governments can use to expand their supply of housing through publicly-owned rental property.
These are the big projects I am focused on right now in addition to managing the day-to-day posting from myself and outside posters.
We had a great month.
I had my first piece ever published in the New York Times. The subject is why we should gradually socialize capital into a commonly-owned fund.
We are winning the race for legitimacy.
Finally, we completed the first paper. The cover of that paper is the image above. We will release it in the next week or so after we have reached out to media to see if we can drum up interest in covering it. The paper is an achievement in itself and also an achievement insofar as it means we've got a complete sense of how to do more going forward (same as with the first video).
We had a pretty good month. The biggest hit was our first video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbSn6o3ZMtw
This video was shared on Facebook by Bernie Sanders, Robert Reich, Jacobin, and others. Facebook says it got around 506,000 views and was shared around 4,100 times. These are probably understatements as they do not include the Jacobin magazine share, which was done separately from the other shares.
We've got the first part of a paper on the development of wealth inequality under Obama done. And are moving along on that.
It's not for certain just yet, but I might have an op-ed in a major newspaper soon about the creation of a social wealth fund. We'll see. Hopefully.
The most interesting policy development was the Brown-Bennet child allowance proposal in the senate. The proposal mostly matches what I've been writing about for years (including the $300 amount). I am working behind the scenes to see if it can be improved. I wrote about how to do that on the website as well: http://peoplespolicyproject.org/2017/10/26/ways-to-improve-the-brown-bennet-child-allowance-proposal/
As far as other media goes, I am part of a new TV show that's being produced right now. My episode is about capital income, which is also what that popular video was about. No idea when that comes out, but should be good.
As I mentioned in the monthly update, here is the first video production. Please share it everywhere you can.
We had a solid month of think tanking.
New Federal Reserve data on wealth came out, which we also covered extensively. A piece combining some of that coverage will appear in Jacobin soon. Some of the facts we pulled out of the microdata files were featured by Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris on social media, as you can see below. This brings our list of major elected officials who have directly pushed out 3P content to four, which is not bad for 7 to 8 weeks in.
We also began a Single Payer Myths series, which aims to tackle frequent criticisms of single payer one at a time. I have a lot more to come there.
As you can see at the top, I had my first TV appearance. In it, I argue for the merits of a UBI. Although I told the producer that I no longer worked at Demos in an email when asked to confirm my title and such, that apparently did not make it up the chain to the people who put the words in the prompter. Oh well.
Twitter followers and engagement are up. Facebook follows and likes are up. Email subscribers are up. And pageviews are up.
A big treat in the coming month will be the roll out of the first 3P produced video. I've seen the nearly final version of it, and it is incredible. I will probably make a mid-month post here once it is out encouraging you all to boost it on social media.
Greetings patrons. As I noted in the last post, the website is now up and running. So that's good.
Had some solid content up last month. The best piece, in my opinion, was from Peter Gowan and Mio Tastas Viktorsson about Sweden's practical plan to socialize industry in the 1970s and 1980s.
In addition to the posting activity, I got some media hits at Vox, Vice, The Week, and Roll Call. Roll Call had a lovely piece about the think tank itself, while the others quoted me on some bit of policy here and there.
I did some more podcast and radio interviews and a few of the pieces on the website were syndicated to Jacobin to get more exposure.
All in all a good start and one we can build off I think going forward.
I launched the website today. The featured post on launch is: If We Care About Inequality, We Must Confront Capital.
I designed and built this website by myself over the weekend. In hindsight, I should have done this from the beginning. But you live and you learn.
I have hit a bump in the road because the website was supposed to have been delivered by now but has not been. This is an unfortunate bottleneck because the website is the vehicle for all the content and helps establish legitimacy and seriousness. I am now told it will be done this month. We will see.
Despite that setback, I have been plodding along with content. I released two of the pre-written pieces intended for the website launch on my personal website while we wait:
Both were well-received from what I can tell. The latter is going to be posted on the Jacobin site soon. There are more like these that I am trying to hold on to until the actual website releases.
I also did a Buzzfeed op-ed on the healthcare debate, laying out the argument for why Democrats need to start working on single-payer now.
I was quoted in Vox in an article about nascent plans for fixing Obamacare.
Meanwhile, Democratic members of Congress have increasingly rallied behind achieving universal health care through a single-payer health care system. The Problem Solver policies may face criticism from the left for not going far enough.
"There are good and bad parts of this proposal. Pouring more subsidies into the market to bring down the direct costs shouldered by consumers is a step in the right direction,” said Matt Bruenig, an analyst at the left-wing think tank the People’s Policy Project.
But, he added, “tweaking around the edges like this will still leave tens of millions of people uninsured, tens of millions more underinsured, and many individual health insurance markets with one or even no insurance options. The only way to solve the big problems in our health care system is through universal public insurance."
The long-term care single-payer paper that I commissioned is moving along. These sorts of papers take quite a bit of time to research and write, but it is in very capable hands.
Hello everyone. It's been one month since I got my first withdrawal of money. In that time, I have:
1. Commissioned a website from a web design firm. See above. It is still in progress but should be ready to go in the latter half of next month. I am spooling up content for it right now by drafting posts. The content up there right now is filler just to see what it looks like. It will not be on the website when it launches.
2. Commissioned a first paper. The topic is how to do long-term care under single payer. In the single payer materials I have read, the issue of long-term care is typically overlooked. So I think this paper will help fill that gap and also be a good building block for a later comprehensive proposal. The person I am working with is an expert in this area, but I don't want to name them here in case it does not work out.
3. Made some progress on videos. I am in touch with a very talented animator who I hope to eventually commission videos from. He tells me the way to do that is to write a script, record the audio, send it along to the animator, and then they can make a video to match. So I have purchased a nice microphone and recorder to do voiceovers and will be playing around with that and some audio editing software soon to learn how to do voiceovers. I will not personally be doing the voiceovers because my voice is bad, but I know some people with good voices who can help.
4. Grabbed the social media accounts. I also have social media accounts, but they are currently inactive.
Please follow the Facebook page because I need to get over a certain number of followers to change the url to something nicer.
Alright folks. I just got the first tranche of money today (not yet in the bank account, but soon). So we are in business.
At this point, I have completed all of the background legal filings, set up a bank account, and in general worked through the initial administrative hurdles to doing it.
The name, based on the input in the prior post, is going to be People's Policy Project. A lot of people expressed reservations over using "institute" or "center" because it conjures up all the other orgs in DC. So I figure "project" solves that problem. "People's" signals the left bent and the unique crowdfunding element to it without being too aggressive. And PPP is a fun acronym.
I am working on a website right now with a design firm.
I also am working on the preliminaries of commissioning a single-payer paper with a group of three health policy experts/activists. The hope is that will be the first full blown project.
My tentative plan for this project is as follows.
1. Pick a name
2. Create a legal entity
3. Pay someone to create a nice website
4. Post my own policy stuff on the website and commission others to write policy papers, make animated videos, etc.
Any name suggestions for this thing?
For reference, almost every other project like this is called a "center" or an "institute" (American Enterprise Institute, Center for American Progress, etc.) if you want to remain in the usual naming norms.
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