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The Washington Monthly

Is Your 401 (k) Obsolete? | The Washington Monthly

February 7, 2013

Another idea, proposed by the New America Foundation, would be to build on the current Saver’s Credit, which currently provides a small federal tax credit for retirement savings by low-income workers. This proposal would dramatically expand the benefit by providing a refundable “match” and allowing it to apply to savings in shorter-term vehicles such as one-year certificates of deposit or U.S. savings bonds. This match would both beef up the emergency savings available for the workers who need it most and incentivize more savings as well.

The American Dream, Redeemed

  • By
  • Reid Cramer,
  • New America Foundation
January 14, 2013 |

Is the pursuit of the American Dream through homeownership just an elaborate bait and switch? It’s understandable why many might now think so. The collapse of the housing bubble has particularly devastated minority families who, after generations of discrimination in housing and mortgage lending, at last got a home of their own, only to find that it destroyed what little wealth they had.

Obama's Game of Chicken

  • By
  • Lina Khan,
  • New America Foundation
November 16, 2012 |

In May 2010, Garry Staples left his chicken farm in Steele, Alabama, to take part in a historic hearing in Normal, an hour and a half away.

How We Could Blow the Energy Boom

  • By
  • Jeffrey Leonard,
  • New America Foundation
November 7, 2012 |

For the first time in four decades, spanning the last eight presidents, America is poised to break free of its energy crisis. The country finds itself suddenly awash in domestic energy, especially new supplies of natural gas extracted from shale rock. The economic windfall is already enormous. According to a recent study by energy analysts, consumers saved more than $100 billion in 2010 alone as a direct result of the natural gas boom.

Programs:

Answering the Critics of "Pay as You Earn" Plans

  • By
  • Stephen Burd,
  • New America Foundation
August 27, 2012 |

Tying the repayment of student loans to a borrower’s income is hardly a new idea. Conservative economist Milton Friedman proposed the basic concept in 1955, and so-called income-contingent loans (ICLs), or “pay as you earn,” plans have been championed by many liberals since. This has also given critics plenty of time to come up with well-worn criticisms that are certain to come up again if this proposal gets legs. Here are some of the arguments, followed by our responses:

The Siege of Academe

  • By
  • Kevin Carey,
  • New America Foundation
August 27, 2012 |

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon on Easter, and I’m standing on a wooden deck in the Corona Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, looking out toward Nob Hill. A man is cooking large slabs of meat on a gas grill as two dozen people mingle with glasses of bourbon and bottles of beer in the cool, damp breeze blowing in off the ocean. All of these people are would-be movers and shakers in American higher education—the historic, world-leading system that constitutes one of this country’s greatest economic assets—but not one of them is an academic. They’re all tech entrepreneurs.

America’s Best-Bang-for-the-Buck Colleges

  • By
  • Rachel Fishman,
  • New America Foundation
  • and Robert Kelchen, University of Wisconsin-Madison
August 27, 2012 |

The main flaw in most college rankings is that they tend to measure how prestigious institutions are rather than how effectively they serve their students. Indeed, many schools have moved up the U.S. News & World Report rankings by abandoning the students they traditionally serve in favor of recruiting “a better sort” by raising their admissions standards.

Getting Rid of the College Loan Repo Man

  • By
  • Stephen Burd,
  • New America Foundation
August 23, 2012 |

Gregory McNeil, 49, is living out his days at a veterans home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His room is so cramped he can barely fit his twin bed, dresser, and the computer desk he had to sneak in because it was against regulations. His only income comes from the Social Security disability payments he began receiving last year after undergoing quadruple-bypass heart surgery. These payments go directly to the veterans home, which then gives him $100a month for his expenses.

The Asset Agenda

  • By
  • Reid Cramer,
  • New America Foundation
July 11, 2012 |

Over the course of the last two decades, a community of academics, policy wonks, and practitioners has been busy developing and testing ideas for helping ordinary people to save more and build their assets. Here are a few of the signature proposals of what has come to be known as the asset-building movement.

Michael Sheradden’s Compounding Interest

  • By
  • Mark Schmitt,
  • New America Foundation
July 11, 2012 |

In 1991, a professor of social work at Washington University named Michael Sherraden published a book called Assets and the Poor. Sherraden was neither a big name nor a natural self-promoter, the book was published by an obscure academic press, and his topic was not earth-shattering—he proposed a new approach to ameliorating poverty by helping poor families save for the future, as an alternative to programs that simply provided enough income for day-to-day sustenance. But the book caught on quickly in Washington.

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