Attorney General Strengthens Commitment to Equal Opportunity in Recovery Spending

Equal opportunity is one of our nation’s most valuable national assets.

On September 27, 2010, the Office of the Attorney General reinvigorated our nation’s commitment to opportunity for all people by releasing a memorandum adopting The Opportunity Agenda’s ongoing policy recommendations for the economic recovery.

To comply with civil rights requirements prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, national origin, disability, and gender in federally funded programs, the Attorney General stated that federal agencies should consider:

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Blog Action Day: Water

Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action. This year's topic: water.

Right now, almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s one in eight of us who are subject to preventable disease and even death because of something that many of us take for granted.

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Biweekly Public Opinion Roundup: Extending Middle Class Tax Cuts

This month, Congress is tasked with deciding how to address the Bush Tax Cuts (passed in 2001) that are due to expire in December.  Public opinion seems to be in favor of keeping the tax cuts for the middle class, although there is less consensus around whether high-income households earning more than $250,000 a year should enjoy the same tax cuts. With the economy at top of mind, and deficit reduction hotly debated by pundits, the tax cut debate could shape up to be important for the midterm election.

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Just How Unequal is the U.S.? We Have No Idea

The last three and a half decades have seen a disturbing increase in inequality in the U.S.  The wealthiest Americans have made significant income and wealth gains, while the rest of us have treaded water at best.  And yet, as our national dream of economic security and mobility dies, we don’t even care enough to offer a eulogy.  As Willy Loman’s wife reminded us, “Attention must be paid.”

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The Road Ahead on Jobs and Income

Two new government reports illustrate the complex and troubling state of opportunity in America, but also the right way forward.

The first set of data, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that the gender pay gap is at a historic low, with women earning almost 83¢ for every dollar earned by men—compared with 76¢ a decade ago and until fairly recently.  The change is due in part to young women’s progress in the workplace—they increasingly are better educated and out earn their male counterparts—but also to depressed wages and, especially, more rapid job loss by men.  

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Biweekly Public Opinion Roundup: Social Security's 75th Birthday

Having reached it's 75th birthday, Social Security cuts are now being considered by the federal deficit commission.  Survey data shows, however, that this action is wildly unpopular with a majority of Americans, as Social Security has historically held high levels of public support, and continues to do so.  People have doubts about the program's solvency in the long-term, and this is an issue that needs to be addressed in a meaningful way.  Americans are against using the Social Security fund to reduce the federal budget deficit, showing that, despite difficult economic times, the social contract and programs that contribute to the common good are salient.

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New Challenges, New Solutions

The Opportunity Agenda was founded with the mission of building the national will to expand opportunity in America, a reflection of the core American belief that where we start out in life should not determine where we end up.  The vision that we will have a country in which your possibilities are determined by you is central to the American self-concept.

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30 Years of Treading Water Leaves You Awfully Tired

For those of us who can still even stomach it, the first Friday of the month—the usual day for the release of the previous month’s federal Employment Situation Summary, known informally as the jobs report—has become a fairly pathetic ritual, particularly for optimists.  We hope for some proof, any proof, that a real recovery is underway.  If jobs were shed across the board, but the unemployment rate trended lightly downward, we try to pretend that it wasn’t because still more people have pulled themselves out of the formal count by giving up looking for work entirely.  If private sector job growth and public sector job loss cancel each other out, we put on our market fundamentalist wishful thinking caps and talk about how private sector jobs are somehow more sustainable than their public sector equivalents.  And when modest job growth does occur, even when it’s below even the basic replacement rate needed to accommodate a growing workforce, well, that’s when we bring out the champagne.

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Holding Arpaio Accountable

Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is known for housing inmates in tent cities in the desert and making them wear pink clothes as humiliation, but also for allegations of racial profiling and abusive treatment of Latinos, inside and outside of his jailhouse.

On September 2, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office, challenging Arpaio’s refusal to demonstrate that his office is complying with federal civil rights laws. Specifically, the suit alleges that the Sheriff’s Office has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race or ethnicity by institutions, like the Sheriff’s Office, that receive federal funds, and requires them to document their compliance.

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Bi-Weekly Public Opinion Roundup

The sheer amount of perseverance shown by New Orleans residents in the face of disasters – first Hurricane Katrina, then the great economic recession, and now the Gulf of Mexico’s Deep Water Horizon oil spill – demonstrates how unique and precious this city is to the greater United States.  No other US city has known such repeated devastation, or has demonstrated such noble resistance to defeat, such an immense capacity to endure.  Although the city and its residents have not been broken by the continued assaults, many are still picking up the pieces.  

In the midst of recovery, NOLA residents are hopeful but scars from the hurricane are still visible, according to a new survey by Kaiser Family Foundation, “New Orleans Five Years After the Storm.”  Read more in the August Public Opinion Monthly.

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