RSF Research in Congress and on the Presidential Campaign Trail

February 5, 2019

Members of Congress and several 2020 presidential contenders have recently unveiled plans to tackle economic inequality, the racial wealth gap, child poverty, and other issues that draw from research supported by the Russell Sage Foundation.

  • Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman (University of California, Berkeley), whose study on distributed national accounts was supported by the foundation, have advised Senator Elizabeth Warren on a new proposal to levy a 2% tax on wealth for individuals holding assets of more than $50 million and a 3% tax on wealth over $1 billion. As Saez told the Washington Post, such taxes would raise $2.75 trillion over a ten-year period from the top 0.1 percent of U.S. households. Saez and Zucman have also endorsed a recent proposal by Senator Bernie Sanders to raise the estate tax up to 77% for estates over $1 billion. Such initiatives would ameliorate the wealth and income gaps that, Saez and Zucman show, have widened significantly in the U.S. since the end of the 1970s.
  • Economists and RSF grantees Sandy Darity (Duke University) and Darrick Hamilton (New School), two leading experts on the racial wealth gap, have advised Senator Corey Booker’s recent proposal for a “baby bonds” program, or the creation of public trust funds for children as a means to ameliorate wealth inequality, and in particular, the racial wealth gap. Darity and Hamilton’s research has also helped spark the recent push for a federal jobs guarantee, a measure supported by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, and Booker.
  • RSF trustees Kathryn Edin (Johns Hopkins University) and Hirokazu Yoshikawa (New York University), and grantees and authors Luke Shaefer (University of Michigan), Jane Waldfogel, Christopher Wimer and Irwin Garfinkel (Columbia University), Timothy Smeeding (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Greg Duncan (Stanford University), and David Harris (Children's Research and Education Institute) are part of a team that has drafted a comprehensive plan for reducing child poverty by up to 50% through a universal child allowance. The American Family Act, sponsored by Senators Michael Bennet and Sherrod Brown, draws from this research to transform the existing child tax credit into a monthly child allowance that is estimated to lift over 5 million children out of poverty.



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