How many of you dealt with that chaos when it came to wrestling with the unemployment insurance system last year? Some of the rhetoric we heard was, â€śwell that chaos was just the pandemic crush overwhelming the systemâ€ť. Yes, thatâ€™s true in a very narrow senseâ€”the system collapsed in many places, meaning people who were desperate to get a check to pay rent or for food had to wait months and months for a first checkâ€¦and lots of people just gave up.
But, hereâ€™s the truth, folksâ€”thatâ€™s a feature not a bug. So, as enhanced unemployment benefits are about to expire at the end of March but seem likely to be extended in a new stimulus bill, is this chaos going to continue to be as bad as it was a year ago? Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project and a leading national expert on the unemployment insurance system, tells us the status and how we fix the broken system.
Remember during the presidential campaign when Joe Biden promised not to raise taxes for anyone making less than $400,000? I thought, â€śwell, thatâ€™s dumbâ€ť. Why should someone making say $250,000â€”which puts them in the one percentâ€”not pay higher taxes? I figured right then that that line-in-the-sand $400K number was a purely stupid political calculationâ€”letâ€™s not piss off the people in the suburbs who voted for Trump who we want to get.
Really? Why not try a direct populist argument to reach a whole lot of people who are making under $100,000 and get angry about taxes because they have to pay a heavy load but see people making $250,000 paying a relatively small sum? I talk with Matt Gardner, senior fellow at the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, about taxing people above $400,000, why other well-off people shouldnâ€™t pay higher taxes as well and, bonus, how Netflix is paying less than one percent taxes on a massive revenue boost (hint: legalized corruption!)
This blog originally appeared at Working Life on February 3, 2021. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Jonathan TasiniÂ is a political / organizing / economic strategist. President of the Economic Future Group, a consultancy that has worked in a couple of dozen countries on five continents over the past 20 years.