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Amy Traub

Good Policy from Obama, Paterson

I’ve been critical of both Governor Paterson and President-elect Obama over tax and budget issues in recent weeks, but let’s give credit where it’s due.

Obama’s recently discussed plan to extend unemployment benefits to part-time workers and enable the unemployed to retain or qualify for health coverage is extremely promising. Reports suggest that the President-elect’s unemployment reforms might follow the outlines of the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act introduced in Congress in 2007. This is exactly what the economy needs now, as it would both provide stimulus and extend direct help to those hardest hit by the recession.

The new initiatives announced in Governor Paterson’s State of the State address are on a lesser scale, but nonetheless include some good ideas. The proposal to allow young people up to age 29 to remain on their parents’ health insurance is a creative – if limited – way to address the reality that entry-level positions held by young workers increasingly tend to lack benefits. Paterson’s proposal doesn’t solve the growing problem of low-quality, no-benefits jobs, but it does provide another tool for families to cope with a lousy situation.

Paterson’s pledge to reform the ill-conceived Empire Zone economic development program is a genuine breath of fresh air. If we’re looking to cut waste in state government, public subsidies for businesses that end up creating few jobs is an excellent place to start. DMI recommends Minnesota’s subsidy accountability law as a model for New York.

Finally, the governor’s clean energy goals are encouraging. He suggests that financing for energy efficiency programs ought to come from the state’s public authorities, the traditional way New York has accrued debt without impacting the official state budget.

These positive ideas don’t offset Paterson’s draconian budget cuts or refusal to ask those New Yorkers who benefited most from the economic expansion to contribute more to the state in our time of need. But it’s good to see some progressive ideas from the governor.

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Posted at 8:20 AM, Jan 08, 2009 in Corporate Accountability | Economy | Employment | Health Care | New York | Politics
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