Archive for the ‘Center for American Progress’ Category

More for the Money: A Bipartisan Approach to Realign U.S. Foreign Aid

May 14, 2012 Comments off

More for the Money: A Bipartisan Approach to Realign U.S. Foreign Aid
Source: Center for American Progress

The United States should be more selective about where and how it spends foreign assistance, according to the authors of “Engagement Amid Austerity: A Bipartisan Approach to Reorienting the International Affairs Budget” released today. The report, co-authored by John Norris of the Center for American Progress and Connie Veillette of the Center for Global Development, identifies four flagship ideas that would help reform U.S. foreign affairs institutions to better reflect national interests and reduce ineffective spending.

The report, which draws input from a senior-level, bipartisan working group of international affairs experts, includes a country-by-country analysis of where the United States spends its economic and security assistance.

What’s at Stake for Women if the Supreme Court Strikes Down the Affordable Care Act

May 4, 2012 Comments off

What’s at Stake for Women if the Supreme Court Strikes Down the Affordable Care Act
Source: Center for American Progress

Today the Center for American Progress released a new report examining the ways in which a Supreme Court ruling that strikes down the Affordable Care Act would not only undo decades of precedent but would also have a devastating effect on the health and well-being of our nation’s women.

Obamacare, as the health reform law is more commonly known, holds the promise of ensuring coverage of preventive and essential services for women, eliminating gender discrimination by health insurance companies, and making health insurance more available and affordable for women and their families.

“For women and their families, Obamacare is not a theoretical concept; it is a lifeline,” said Jessica Arons, author of the report and Director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program at CAP. “Attacks on Obamacare are attacks on women’s health and well-being. A ruling that strikes down the Affordable Care Act would not only undo decades of precedent; it would have a devastating effect on the millions of women who have already benefited from the health reform law and the millions more who stand to benefit from it in the years to come. Women have gained so much from Obamacare; they cannot afford to lose it now.”

Thanks to Obamacare, more than 45 million women have already taken advantage of recommended preventative services, including mammograms, Pap smears, prenatal care, well-baby care, and well-child care with no cost sharing such as co-pays and deductibles. Starting this August, millions more will be able to obtain contraception, annual visits with a gynecologist, screening for gestational diabetes, breastfeeding consulting and supplies, and screening for sexually transmitted infections, again at no extra cost.

+ Full Report

Voter Suppression 101: How Conservatives Are Conspiring to Disenfranchise Millions of Americans

April 7, 2012 Comments off
The right to vote is under attack all across our country. Conservative legislators are introducing and passing legislation that creates new barriers for those registering to vote, shortens the early voting period, imposes new requirements for already-registered voters, and rigs the Electoral College in select states. Conservatives fabricate reasons to enact these laws—voter fraud is exceedingly rare—in their efforts to disenfranchise as many potential voters among certain groups, such as college students, low-income voters, and minorities, as possible. Rather than modernizing our democracy to ensure that all citizens have access to the ballot box, these laws hinder voting rights in a manner not seen since the era of Jim Crow laws enacted in the South to disenfranchise blacks after Reconstruction in the late 1800s.
Talk about turning back the clock! At its best, America has utilized the federal legislative process to augment voting rights. Constitutional amendments such as the 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 23rd, and 26th have steadily improved the system by which our elections take place while expanding the pool of Americans eligible to participate. Yet in 2011, more than 30 state legislatures considered legislation to make it harder for citizens to vote, with over a dozen of those states succeeding in passing these bills. Anti-voting legislation appears to be continuing unabated so far in 2012.

Meeting the Infrastructure Imperative: CAP Proposes an Affordable Plan to Put Americans Back to Work Rebuilding our Nation’s Infrastructure

February 24, 2012 Comments off
Today, as lawmakers continue to debate infrastructure bills that inadequately meet the country’s needs, a new report released by the Center for American Progress proposes a plan to enable significant progress in bringing America’s crumbling infrastructure up to par. In addition to proposing a new level of federal investment and how to pay for it, the report outlines a set of critical reforms to how the federal government funds, prioritizes, finances, and plans for infrastructure improvements.
The paper, “Meeting the Infrastructure Imperative,” calls for increasing the nation’s infrastructure investment by $129 billion a year over the next 10 years, describes our country’s infrastructure spending needs by category, and details where the new investments should be focused.

Full Paper

Movin’ It and Improvin’ It! Using Both Education Strategies to Increase Teaching Effectiveness

January 29, 2012 Comments off

Movin’ It and Improvin’ It! Using Both Education Strategies to Increase Teaching Effectiveness
Source: Center for American Progress

Fueled in part by the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program, a massive effort to overhaul teacher evaluation is underway in states and districts across the country. The aim is to ensure that evaluations provide a better indication of “teaching effectiveness,” or the extent to which teachers can and do contribute to students’ learning, and then to act on that information to enhance teaching and learning.

In October the National Council on Teacher Quality reported that nearly two-thirds of the states made changes to teacher-evaluation policies over the past three years, a stunning amount of policy activity in an area that had remained nearly stagnant for decades. Today 25 states require an annual evaluation of teachers—up from 15 two years ago—and 23 states now require evaluations to at least consider “objective evidence of student learning in the form of student growth and/or value-added test data.”

So far most of the public debate about such reforms focused on the technical reliability of the techniques being used to measure effectiveness, especially value-added estimates of teachers’ impact on student learning. Value-added measures rely on statistical models that examine the difference between the actual and predicted achievement of a teacher’s students given their prior test scores, demo- graphic characteristics, and other measures in the model.

But as states and districts actually begin to adopt policies to measure teaching effectiveness, another kind of debate is now raging: How exactly should school systems use the results of their new teacher-evaluation systems? More broadly, once states and districts begin to measure effectiveness, what kinds of strategies should they adopt to increase the amount of measured effectiveness in the teacher workforce over time?

Download this report (pdf)

Download the introduction and summary (pdf)

Good Government Investments in Renewable Energy

January 17, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Center for American Progress
Budget deficits drove the conversation in Washington in 2011 with the daily news dominated by government shutdown threats, the “super committee,” continuing resolutions, and arcane budgeting practices. Unfortunately, this left Americans convinced that government investments in the future are off the table because of large federal budget deficits that need to be reduced.
Americans were misled. As the Center for American Progress points out, the United States can balance our budget, reduce our long-term debt, and make key investments in our future all at the same time. CAP’s plan works toward a more vibrant economy where all Americans are better off and clean energy is an integral part of this future. Best of all, the investments that government needs to make are relatively modest and can be paid for by ending wasteful spending in the same energy sector.
There is no doubt that Americans need clean energy because it’s vital to our nation’s economic competitiveness, security, and health.
There is also no doubt that government will play an important role in making the transition to clean energy.
Why? Because the federal government always has been—and always will be—a player in energy markets. The federal government has made investments in energy for more than a century, by granting access to resources on public lands, helping build railroads and waterways to transport fuels, building dams to provide electricity, subsidizing exploration and extraction of fossil fuels, providing financing to electrify rural America, taking on risk in nuclear power, and conducting research and development in virtually all energy sources. There’s no reason that Washington should stop making new investments.

CAP Report Assesses Progress in Teacher Preparation and State Accountability

January 13, 2012 Comments off

CAP Report Assesses Progress in Teacher Preparation and State Accountability
Source: Center for American Progress

The Center for American Progress released a new report today that details the progress of the 2010 winners of the Obama administration’s signature Race to the Top education program. Titled “Getting Better at Teacher Preparation and State Accountability” by Edward Crowe, the report presents new information about the specifics of each state’s goals, activities, and challenges as part of their commitments to improve teacher education, and strengthen public disclosure and accountability of program performance.

The report describes the key findings in separate profiles of the twelve winners: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia. The paper cites examples where important changes are promised and seem likely to happen. It also notes weaknesses or areas needing improvement. An overview of the combined efforts of the states and the District of Columbia shows that:

  • Persistence in teaching by education program graduates will be disclosed publicly by five of the 12 winners. Only two states, however, will change their teacher-education accountability regulations and use programwide persistence rates for program accountability.
  • Six of the 12 winners will use data on job placement of teacher-preparation program graduates for public disclosure of program performance.
  • Only four recipients will publically report the percentage of each education preparation program’s graduates who attain advanced licensure.
  • Student-achievement outcomes will be used by all 12 grantees for public disclosure of teaching effectiveness of program graduates.

+ Full Report

Unaddressed Threat of Female Suicide Bombers

January 9, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Center for American Progress
In Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks at the launch of the Global Counterterrorism Forum in September 2011, she expressed the need to deepen our understanding of the process of radicalization and terrorist recruitment in order to undermine the appeal of extremism.
She’s absolutely right, but there’s still a gaping hole in the U.S. National Counterterrorism Strategy of 2011’s approach toward countering radicalization: the fact that terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban continue to exploit uniquely female motivations as a tool to recruit female suicide bombers to attack U.S. soldiers and international aid workers.
As the number of female suicide terrorists rises, it becomes increasingly important to acknowledge and address this threat to American lives and interests. Doing so would result in a more comprehensive counterterrorism strategy.
We outline the problem below as well as some of the factors that lead women to become terrorists.

Teaching Children Well; New Evidence-Based Approaches to Teacher Professional Development and Training

December 3, 2011 Comments off

Teaching Children Well; New Evidence-Based Approaches to Teacher Professional Development and Training
Source: Center for American Progress

We have a problem. Increasing teacher and teaching effectiveness is arguably the paramount challenge facing public elementary and secondary education, and we have too few proven-effective ways of getting this done. Federal funding is pouring into initiatives that emphasize measurement and improvement of teacher performance, including the Obama administration’s signature education-reform initiatives like the Race to the Top program for states, the implementation of data systems that track student achievement, and funds dedicated to investments in innovative models of educational improvements in districts. Yet there is no stockpile of effective teacher professional development and training approaches from which states and districts can choose.

Further, the evidence suggests that most teacher professional development has little if any impact, anyway. The gaps between the stated aims of federal and state policy, the needs of the teacher workforce, and proven solutions that improve teacher and teaching effectiveness are a serious impediment to any effort to improve student achievement. In the clutter and clamor of claims and tools for improving teachers’ impacts, it is critical that state and district superintendents, principals, school boards, and reform leaders grasp the importance of their choices and direct their attention to evidence-supported models.

See also: Designing High Quality Evaluation Systems for High School Teachers

How Georgia’s Anti-Immigration Law Could Hurt the State’s (and the Nation’s) Economy

October 6, 2011 Comments off

How Georgia’s Anti-Immigration Law Could Hurt the State’s (and the Nation’s) Economy
Source: Center for American Progress

n April, Georgia enacted H.B.87, an anti-immigration law that mirrors Arizona’s ill-fated 2010 law, S.B.1070. Like S.B. 1070, Georgia’s Illegal Immigration Reform and EnforcementAct makes it a crime to knowingly harbor or transport undocumented immigrants, imposes harsh penalties for providing false papers to an undocumented immigrant, and empowers law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect to be in the country illegally. In addition, Georgia’s law dramatically expands the requirement for employers to use the federal E-Verify system, which checks the work eligibility requirement of employees.

These laws do not operate in a vacuum, and states and localities that recently passed anti-immigrant bills have experienced significant negative economic consequences. In Arizona, for example, the losses from S.B. 1070 totaled $141 million in conference cancellations alone and $253 million in overall economic output with the potential for far more in the future. Cities that passed anti-immigrant ordinances also saw steep costs: Farmers Branch, Texas, spent $4 million in legal fees defending its laws, and Hazelton, Pennsylvania, will spend upwards of $5 million to defend its law.

Report Highlights Community Role in Successful Immigrant Integration

September 23, 2011 Comments off

Report Highlights Community Role in Successful Immigrant Integration
Source: Center for American Progress

Today the Center for American Progress released, “All Immigration is Local: Receiving Communities and Their Role in Successful Immigrant Integration,” a groundbreaking report that outlines how receiving communities—the places, along with their residents, in which newcomers settle—can overcome the challenges of immigrant settlement and proactively bridge the gap between natives and newcomers.

The report provides a set of guidelines to help receiving communities identify programs they can emulate and build on. It identifies four key strategies for receiving communities:

  • Encourage leadership to address the changes take place locally and to manage them effectively
  • Foster contact between immigrants and the native born
  • Build partnerships between state and local governments and new residents
  • Reframe the issues to counter misconceptions about immigrants

The report also gives recommendations for expanding on this work by encouraging national, state, and local policymakers, as well as philanthropic and civic actors, to focus more attention and resources on immigrant-receiving communities.

What If the Tea Party Wins? They Have a Plan for the Constitution, and It Isn’t Pretty

September 19, 2011 Comments off

What If the Tea Party Wins? They Have a Plan for the Constitution, and It Isn’t Pretty
Source: Center for American Progress

In the Tea Party’s America, families must mortgage their home to pay for their mother’s end-of-life care. Higher education is a luxury reserved almost exclusively to the very rich. Rotten meat ships to supermarkets nationwide without a national agency to inspect it. Fathers compete with their adolescent children for sub-minimum wage jobs. And our national leaders are utterly powerless to do a thing.

At least, that’s what would happen if the Tea Party succeeds in its effort to reimagine the Constitution as an antigovernment manifesto. While the House of Representatives pushes Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to phase out Medicare, numerous members of Congress, a least one Supreme Court justice, and the governor of America’s second-largest state now proudly declare that most of the progress of the last century violates the Constitution.

It is difficult to count how many essential laws would simply cease to exist if the Tea Party won its battle to reshape our founding document, but a short list includes:

  • Social Security and Medicare
  • Medicaid, children’s health insurance, and other health care programs
  • All federal education programs
  • All federal antipoverty programs
  • Federal disaster relief
  • Federal food safety inspections and other food safety programs
  • Child labor laws, the minimum wage, overtime, and other labor protections
  • Federal civil rights laws

Indeed, as this paper explains, many state lawmakers even embrace a discredited constitutional doctrine that threatens the union itself.

+ Issue Brief (PDF)

Unequal Aid: Discriminatory Treatment of Gay and Transgender Applicants and Families Headed by Same-Sex Couples in the Higher Education Financial Aid Process

September 1, 2011 Comments off

Unequal Aid: Discriminatory Treatment of Gay and Transgender Applicants and Families Headed by Same-Sex Couples in the Higher Education Financial Aid Process
Source: Center for American Progress

As college students pack up to head back to school and high school seniors begin to think about their college prospects, the Center for American Progress released a report today entitled, “Unequal Aid: Discriminatory Treatment of Gay and Transgender Applicants and Families Headed by Same-Sex Couples in the Higher Education Financial Aid Process,” finding that the federal government’s application for financial aid does not fully recognize families headed by same-sex couples and often renders them invisible. What results is the discriminatory misallocation of federal, state, and private dollars for higher education based on sexual orientation or gender identity—characteristics completely divorced from an applicant’s actual need for financial aid.

For some, biases inherent in the financial aid process result in less financial aid and in doing so, the system robs applicants otherwise deserving of financial assistance for higher education simply on the basis of sexual orientation. But for others, these biases actually result in more aid to finance a student’s education because they or someone in their family is gay. In either case, the system clearly distributes higher education financial aid in an inefficient and ineffective way that is unfair to students, families, and American taxpayers.

Sixty-six percent of all undergraduate students received some type of financial aid during the 2007-08 school year and the average amount of aid received by those students was approximately $9,100—$6,600 of which came from federal sources. Consisting largely of federal assistance, financial aid packages can mean the difference between a college education and none at all. As higher education is the driving force behind a nation’s competitiveness and ability to innovate in an increasingly technological and global economy, more educated societies tend to result in larger, more successful economies with higher standards of living. With most financial aid providers relying on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, this unequal treatment hurts America.

+ Introduction and Summary (PDF)
+ Full Report (PDF)

CAP Analysis Disproves Claims about Economic Effects of Strengthened Ozone Protections

August 22, 2011 Comments off

CAP Analysis Disproves Claims about Economic Effects of Strengthened Ozone Protections
Source: Center for American Progress

As the White House completes its interagency review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s updated ground-level ozone standard to protect public health, some of the companies required to reduce their pollution continue to make exaggerated claims that negative economic impacts will occur due to these updated protections. This will be the first improvement in the science-based standard to protect children, seniors and other sensitive people from ozone (smog) in the air since 1997.

Leading the charge against these safeguards are Big Oil, coal, and utility companies who assert the protections will wreak economic havoc. These groups made similar charges when the ozone standard was improved in 1997. The Center for American Progress analyzed the economic data from the metropolitan areas affected by the 1997 standards, and found that industries’ predictions did not occur.

“Industries’ predictions of economic armageddon following the adoption of the 1997 ozone standard did not occur. In fact, economic growth and unemployment in the metropolitan areas newly out of compliance generally followed the national economy. This means that Big Oil and other polluters’ similar, current attacks on the pending ozone standard also lack credibility,” said Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and coauthor of the analysis

+ Full Report

U.S.-Mexico Border Is Safer Than Ever

August 10, 2011 Comments off

U.S.-Mexico Border Is Safer Than Ever
Source: Center for American Progress

Despite the conservative “border security first” rhetoric—the primary obstacle to comprehensive immigration reform – a recent USA Today article shows that border communities are safer on average than U.S. cities and a New York Times report suggests that net illegal immigration from Mexico may now be at zero. These findings underscore those in the Center for American Progress report, “Safer than Ever: A View from the U.S. – Mexico Border,” released in conjunction with the CAP event today “The State of U.S./Mexico Border Security,” both discussing the achievements made in reducing unlawful entries across the border and renewing the call for comprehensive legal reform—the absence of which has triggered a number of unintended and counterproductive consequences.

As a result of increased DHS personnel along the southern border and a number of major improvements in technology and infrastructure, the Border Patrol can more effectively monitor the border and curb the flow of unauthorized crossings. Examples of the unprecedented resource deployment include:

  • The amount of Border Patrol agents has doubled since 2004—now we have nearly 21,000, 18,000 of whom are deployed along the southern border.
  • A quarter of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are now deployed along the southern border with double their previous number of personnel assigned to the Border Enforcement Security Taskforces, focusing on disrupting criminal organizations.
  • President Obama has deployed and extended the mission of 1,200 National Guard troops to assist local law enforcement identify smugglers with sophisticated Defense Department technologies and fill manpower gaps.
  • DHS has completed nearly 650 miles of fencing, including 300 miles of vehicle barriers and 350 miles of pedestrian fencing.
  • The use of advanced detection technologies, including remote video surveillance systems, mobile surveillance, and thermal imaging systems, has been broadly expanded by DHS, enabling officers to monitor a broader swath of the border in real time, despite the difficulties that stretches of high density areas and rocky terrain present.

+ Full Report

Big Oil Pumps Up Profits with Taxpayer Subsidies as Deficit Mounts

July 30, 2011 Comments off

Big Oil Pumps Up Profits with Taxpayer Subsidies as Deficit Mounts
Source: Center for American Progress

This week, while the debt ceiling fight remains unresolved and conservatives in Congress ask for more spending cuts without closing tax loopholes, the five Big Oil companies—ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, and Shell—posted massive second-quarter profits thanks in no small part to billions in unnecessary subsidies and record-high gas prices paid by American taxpayers. The column “Big Oil Pumps Up Profits with Americans’ Cash” and accompanying chart, released today by the Center for American Progress, shows that in addition to paying more than $4 billion in unnecessary tax subsidies for domestic oil drilling and production every year, Americans have been paying more than a third more at the pump than they were just a year ago.

All five companies sat squarely in the black with $35.1 billion in combined second-quarter profits, 9 percent higher than in 2010. Exxon, at a whopping $10.7 billion, reported the largest profits by far. Shell saw an $8 billion profit for the quarter, a 77 percent increase from last year, putting the company on track to meet or exceed its 2008 record of $31.4 billion—the most a British company has ever earned in a single year. Even BP clocked in at $5.3 billion little more than a year after the fatal Deepwater Horizon disaster rocked the U.S. Gulf Coast, forcing BP to put $20 billion in an escrow fund for people harmed by the blowout.

+ View data comparing Big Oil profits to prices for oil and gasoline (.xls)

Infographic: Tax Breaks vs. Budget Cuts

March 11, 2011 Comments off

Infographic: Tax Breaks vs. Budget Cuts
Source: Center for American Progress

House leaders are unfortunately restricting their proposed budget cuts for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 to nonsecurity discretionary spending in an attempt to tame a $1.3 trillion deficit. This approach is especially shortsighted since the Federal Treasury loses twice as much revenue due to tax breaks than Congress appropriates on all nonsecurity discretionary spending.

The chart below compares the 10 safety-net programs slated for deep cuts with the cost of the tax breaks that should also be considered for reduction or elimination to bring the budget into balance. The column on the left is a list of safety-net programs that have already been targets of the House leadership’s budget ax. The column on the right is the cost to specified tax breaks (see bottom of page for sources).


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