All in Labor Policy

By Ellen Whelan-Wuest, staff editor While the Middle Eastern protests and revolutions dominated the front pages, a democratic movement erupted in the heart of our own country. While recent reports indicate that counter protesters have joined the fray, the majority of the 68,000 people gathered in and around the state capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin are fighting for the long-standing right of public service employees to collectively bargain for their wages and benefits. Governor Walker and his supporters have denounced the unions organizing the so-called “Cheddar Revolution,” as standing in the way of responsible budget cuts intended to address Wisconsin’s budget deficit. According to state and national Republican leaders, Governor Walker’s budget bill is an “austerity measure” and not a move solely intended to weaken unions, as President Obama and others have speculated. However, there are two important and largely unexamined aspects to the events in Wisconsin that undermine such claims.

By Maureena Thompson, staff editor With the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan scheduled to begin in July of this year, an important policy consideration will be how to create and promote jobs for our country’s ever-increasing numbers of newly minted veterans. If past wars have taught us anything, it is that our obligation to support members of the armed forces does not end with the war. Veterans face a number of issues upon their return home, and finding a new, sustainable career is one of the most prominent ones. Addressing the problem of how to help these young men and women transition into civilian careers is a vital step in transitioning out of war – but how can we ensure this is done given the poor current state of our economy?

By Amanda Valerio, staff editor America’s finances are complicated enough. Decisions made by the nation’s financial policymakers have been debated with increasing fervor—some would argue hysteria—in recent months. However, the decisions made now, at the close of the largest economic downturn since the Great Recession, hold painful implications for the country’s unemployed. These decisions are painful enough without wondering whether the decision-maker was thinking toward the country’s long-term economic future or his or her long-term prospects with Goldman Sachs.

By Patricia Liever, staff editor The 112th Congress will make difficult decisions every day – and they will do it all in one of the most polarized environments that many of us can remember. Rather than make big cuts with costs that will be broadly felt by all Americans, members of Congress can likely be counted on to make the smallest, most politically safe reductions in federal spending. One of the likely victims of this effort is going to be the cancellation of NASA’s Constellation program and a reduction in funding for the nation’s space program. As someone who has recently lived and worked on Florida’s Space Coast – an area where NASA signs most people’s paychecks – I have seen firsthand the reality of “easy” budget cuts in the lives of the people affected.

By Jade Lamb, staff editor Unions thought that President Zuma’s inauguration last year would bring them a renewed power in government negotiations, and found instead that little changed. The rejection of the government’s offer indicates that the unions are not interested in compromise, which will probably result in the government either meeting demands or making some other kinds of concessions. As a power play, striking may be pretty effective in demonstrating strength in the short-term, though as a tactic for improving education and healthcare in South Africa, it leaves a lot to be desired.

By Kristy Marynak This article examines child-only cases within the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which currently comprise 47 percent of the overall TANF caseload. Child-only cases exclude adults from the benefit calculation, providing aid only to children, and exempt adults from work requirements and time limits. This article reviews the narrow literature on child-only TANF populations, distinguishing between “non-parental” cases involving relative caregivers and “parental” cases involving parents who are ineligible for benefits because of sanctions, alien status, or SSI receipt. The article then discusses the inadequate communication and collaboration between TANF agencies and the child welfare system; describes unproven, though innovative, state efforts to assist child-only populations; and concludes with the recommendation that Congress should expand the 2011 President’s Budget request to include competitive grants for programs that address the child-only population’s needs and sponsor third-party studies to test the programs’ impacts on child outcomes.