We talked with the godfather of asset building, who himself comes from a philanthropic family, to get the inside story of how top foundations got behind one the most innovative policy movements in decades.
We unravel the opaque money trail behind the unending attack on the Affordable Care Act, including the latest legal challenge now before the Supreme Court. At its center is a who’s who of conservative funders.
From the Whitehouse Press Office:
Washington, DC – Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m., U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) will hold a press conference to announce their plans to introduce bipartisan legislation to reform our nation’s prison system. The legislation would build on reforms that have proven successful at the state level to reduce prison spending and overcrowding, and to help inmates become productive members of society upon re-entry.
Prison reform has been reported to be among the top areas for bipartisan legislative action in this Congress, with Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) recently listing it as one of his top three priorities. Both Cornyn and Whitehouse serve on the committee.
EVENT: Sens. Cornyn and Whitehouse Announce Bipartisan Prison Legislation
WHEN: Tuesday, February 10, 2014
WHERE: Senate Radio-TV Gallery
Nonprofits and funders on the side of improving access to housing and financial assets for low-income people are closely watching a showdown in the Supreme Court on “disparate impact.”
When you are one, you have only just learned to speak. You move about clumsily and knock things down a lot. You don’t yet know what is possible, but you are burgeoning with life.
From the Whitehouse Press Office:
Sen. Whitehouse and Rep. Neal Introduce Retirement Savings Bill
Automatic IRA Program will Help Enhance Retirement Security for Tens of Millions
Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) introduced legislation today that would dramatically enhance the retirement security of millions of Americans. According to most financial planners, the United States is at the precipice of an impending retirement crisis. Many Americans are simply not saving enough to be financially secure in retirement. It is estimated that 75 million workers have no employer-provided retirement plan or other opportunity to save through workplace contributions.
The Automatic IRA Act offers a common-sense solution to dramatically expand retirement savings in the U.S. Under the bill, tens of millions of workers would be eligible to save for retirement through a simple payroll deduction. The non-partisan Retirement Security Project has estimated the Whitehouse-Neal Auto IRA proposal could raise net national savings by nearly $8 billion annually.
“Each month, tens of millions of Americans build toward a comfortable and dignified retirement by contributing to employer-based savings plan. Unfortunately, half of American workers don’t have access to employment-based accounts and may find it much more difficult to save,” said Senator Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Budget Committee. “This bill would give those without access to a 401 (k) plan the opportunity to benefit from automatic monthly savings. Coupled with Social Security, such tax-preferred savings can help people in Rhode Island and across the country enjoy financial freedom in their golden years.”
“Getting more low and middle-income workers into the retirement savings system remains one of my top priorities. Far too many Americans are putting their retirement at risk because they do not have access to a workplace savings plan. I believe this auto-IRA bill can dramatically improve their post-employment years. By making it easier for workers to save, millions of Americans will enjoy their retirement more secure and content,” said Congressman Neal, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
The Whitehouse-Neal legislation creates automatic payroll deposit Individual Retirement Accounts, or Auto IRAs, for workers who do not have access to employer-provided qualified retirement plans. The bill would also require employers with 10 or more employees to automatically enroll workers in an Auto IRA unless the employee opts out. The employers could receive tax credits to defray the costs of setting up the accounts. We know that automatic enrollment has been extremely successful in getting more people to save for retirement. Studies have shown that participation rates are at least 10 percentage points higher in plans with automatic enrollment (77 percent) than those without it (67 percent). The GAO also found that automatic IRA enrollment could increase the number of lower-earning households with retirement savings and increase retirement income as well.
The Auto IRA proposal, which was jointly developed by Brookings Institution and Heritage Foundation scholars, has garnered widespread support, including the AARP, the U.S. Black Chamber, the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, and the Aspen Institute Initiative on Financial Security.
With $3 million dollars in technical assistance and consulting from the Citi Foundation and Living Cities, three poverty-stricken U.S. cities now have more irons in the fire for improving government and building an inclusive economy.
In case you don’t know Living Cities, it was founded in 1991 and is now backed by 22 foundations and several financial institutions that partner with it “to develop and scale new approaches to dramatically improve the economic well-being of low-income people.” The big names in philanthropy are all behind this place, including Gates, Rockefeller and Ford, and big banks like Bank of America, Citi, and JP Morgan Chase are on board as well.
Living Cities has been around long enough to watch concern about urban poverty move in and out of vogue. These days it is most definitely in vogue. Not only is inequality writ large a hot issue, but there’s a huge amount of excitement about urban renewal and a number of mayors are doing interesting things to help cities create opportunity and stability for low-income people. As well, there’s a lot of energy around making city governments more innovative agents of change, which is crucial for enabling the local public sector to reduce poverty and drive economic growth. Creative programs are happening in many cities, but often in isolation.