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Top 10s to Reduce Inequality

June 12, 2015 at 1:00 PM
BY
CBPP

At TalkPoverty.org, CBPP Senior Fellow Jared Bernstein and Assistant Director of State Fiscal Research Erica Williams joined a panel of experts in contributing 10 ideas to reduce poverty and inequality.

Bernstein’s list includes:

  • If the private market fails to provide enough jobs to achieve full employment, the government must become the employer of last resort.
  • When growth is below capacity and the job market is slack, apply fiscal and monetary policies aggressively to achieve full employment.  Right now, this means not raising interest rates pre-emptively at the Fed and investing in public infrastructure.
  • Maintain and strengthen safety net programs like the EITC [Earned Income Tax Credit] and CTC [Child Tax Credit], SNAP [formerly food stamps], and Medicaid.

Williams’ list, which focuses on what states can do, includes:

  • Make state tax systems less regressive.  State tax systems tend to ask the most from those with the least because they rely heavily on sales taxes and user fees, which hit low-income households especially hard.  States can move their tax systems in a more progressive direction by strengthening their income taxes, adopting state earned income tax credits (or other low-income tax credits) to boost after-tax incomes at the bottom, and rejecting tax cuts that disproportionately benefit higher-income families and profitable corporations.
  • Expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation.  States can raise wages for workers at the bottom of the pay scale by enacting a higher state minimum wage and indexing it so that it keeps up with rising living costs.

You can read all of the posts here.