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Update to the Budget & Economic Outlook: 2015 to 2025 (Congressional Budget Office)

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September 2, 2015

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released their updated outlook on the federal budget.  They anticipate that the federal deficit will be less than projected, and that the economy will continue to grow.  However, they do state that if current laws remain unchanged, we will see an increase in the deficit and debt over the next ten years.

The CBO has “an update in 18 slides” for people looking for just the basic dot points of their report.  This could be a good introduction to students to looking at policy as a primary source.

Tie this back to UFR Lesson 1.5 on balancing the federal budget.  What steps need to be taken to balance the budget – and should it be done?

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Minimum Wage – Political Cartoons

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The political cartoons included in this blog are selected as tools to teach about public policy issues. Their inclusion does not in any way constitute an endorsement by Teachers College, Columbia University, of their point of view.

Political cartoons can be a powerful way to teach and talk about public policy issues in the classroom. They engaging, often funny, and they teach very complex ideas in a quick and intuitive way. We are so convinced of the value of political cartoons that, in addition to including them in many of our blogs, we feature posts that are all cartoons.

Using cartoons presents an opportunity to teach students media literacy, including the ability to detect point of view or bias. As a sequence, we strongly encourage students to study the cartoon carefully, analyze the specific context of the cartoon, and determine the cartoonist’s point of view. See the blog post of October 8, 2013 for a guide to using the political cartoons we have selected. The Library of Congress also has a a very useful Cartoon Analysis Guide.

*Note: although some of these cartoons are not from 2015, the idea is still fresh and works with the theme of a federal minimum wage.

 

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$15 minimum wage?

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September 2, 2015

The “Fight for 15″ has met a new opponent in conservative politics – one not stating the usual opposition to a higher minimum wage (higher unemployment, decrease in production).  Instead, new ads point out that a $30,000 a year wage with no experience or skills creates a disincentive to continue with education, and may lead to increased high school dropout rates.

However, the Economic Policy Institute argues that the average age of affected workers is 36 years old, not the teenagers that the ad above assumes.

Business Week provides a very good outline of issues facing those looking to increase the federal minimum wage.  One issue for students to think about:  the federal minimum wage is a price floor (you can’t go below it), so how do we determine a federal floor when prices and standard of living changes so much from city to city and region to region?  What works as a minimum wage in Los Angeles may really cause issues in Minocqua, Wisconsin.  How much should the federal government be involved?

 

 

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Ukraine Economy – Political Cartoons

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September 2, 2015

The political cartoons included in this blog are selected as tools to teach about public policy issues. Their inclusion does not in any way constitute an endorsement by Teachers College, Columbia University, of their point of view.

Political cartoons can be a powerful way to teach and talk about public policy issues in the classroom. They engaging, often funny, and they teach very complex ideas in a quick and intuitive way. We are so convinced of the value of political cartoons that, in addition to including them in many of our blogs, we feature posts that are all cartoons.

Using cartoons presents an opportunity to teach students media literacy, including the ability to detect point of view or bias. As a sequence, we strongly encourage students to study the cartoon carefully, analyze the specific context of the cartoon, and determine the cartoonist’s point of view. See the blog post of October 8, 2013 for a guide to using the political cartoons we have selected. The Library of Congress also has a a very useful Cartoon Analysis Guide.

 

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And Ukraine, too

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September 2, 2015

Conflict with Russia has led Ukraine down the path of excessive debt.  Last week, Ukraine seemed to come to an agreement with their private creditors, who agreed to a 20% write off of the face value of their bonds.  Ukraine faces another debt relief agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which concerns some policy-watchers and international groups.

This brings to mind the power relation that has existed for centuries between Russia and Ukraine (as Russia holds some of these Ukrainian bonds, too), and brought to mind a great lesson using UFR Lesson 4.2 on international power relations based on debt. Encourage students to look at political and economic power relations between these two countries. Although the lesson focuses on the relationship between the United States and China, ask students to focus on how this relates to Ukraine and Russia, and what consequences we may see.

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Back to Greece

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September 2, 2015

Greece reported that their economy grew – by a scant 0.9% – in the second quarter of 2015.  Even at less than 1%, it was a higher growth rate than the average of the entire Eurozone.

The Greek bailout deal last month provided no relief on Greece’s debt of about $345 billion, but offered billions of euros in aid to avoid default.  This bailout and aid was expected to continue to contract the Greek economy.

As the new school year starts, take students back through the Greek debt crisis, and return to UFR Lesson 4.4.  The essential dilemma for 4.4 is “When is one country’s problem everyone’s problem?”  This could be a great inquiry to start out the year in an economics or world history class.

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China’s Economy – Political Cartoons

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September 2, 2015

The political cartoons included in this blog are selected as tools to teach about public policy issues. Their inclusion does not in any way constitute an endorsement by Teachers College, Columbia University, of their point of view.

Political cartoons can be a powerful way to teach and talk about public policy issues in the classroom. They engaging, often funny, and they teach very complex ideas in a quick and intuitive way. We are so convinced of the value of political cartoons that, in addition to including them in many of our blogs, we feature posts that are all cartoons.

Using cartoons presents an opportunity to teach students media literacy, including the ability to detect point of view or bias. As a sequence, we strongly encourage students to study the cartoon carefully, analyze the specific context of the cartoon, and determine the cartoonist’s point of view. See the blog post of October 8, 2013 for a guide to using the political cartoons we have selected. The Library of Congress also has a a very useful Cartoon Analysis Guide.

 

 

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Add China to the mix…

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September 2, 2015

Although China  does not exactly fall into the “indebted nation in crisis” fold like Greece, issues in the Chinese economy are starting to trickle into the United States to affect our own economy.  Although facing debt (mostly private), this is not a case like Greece; China instead faces issues with a shift (Fortune magazine calls it a “flight”) of capital to other developed countries.  The Chinese government has attempted to stop roller coaster stock market ride this summer by ordering state-owned brokerages to purchase shares, but CNN Money reports that the Shanghai index has still crashed almost 40% from its peak on June 12.  Unfortunately, this has caused the U.S. stock market to launch on its own roller coaster ride.

shanghai 9-2

New reports from China indicate the manufacturing sector is in decline, although the country states they are on a path to make their goals of manufacturing as 7% of GDP.  The fact is, no one seems to know what’s happening in China – they are an unreliable narrator, so to speak.

Of concern, regardless of the “real” story, is the ripple affect being felt across Asia, into Europe, and the United States.  South Korean exports are down (China is South Korea’s largest trade partner), Australia is looking at a recession (they import a lot of Chinese commodities), and Malaysia faces manufacturing declines based on decreased trade with China.

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Political Cartoons – Raising the National Debt Ceiling

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August 5, 2015

The political cartoons included in this blog are selected as tools to teach about public policy issues. Their inclusion does not in any way constitute an endorsement by Teachers College, Columbia University, of their point of view.

Political cartoons can be a powerful way to teach and talk about public policy issues in the classroom. They engaging, often funny, and they teach very complex ideas in a quick and intuitive way. We are so convinced of the value of political cartoons that, in addition to including them in many of our blogs, we feature posts that are all cartoons.

Using cartoons presents an opportunity to teach students media literacy, including the ability to detect point of view or bias. As a sequence, we strongly encourage students to study the cartoon carefully, analyze the specific context of the cartoon, and determine the cartoonist’s point of view. See the blog post of October 8, 2013 for a guide to using the political cartoons we have selected. The Library of Congress also has a a very useful Cartoon Analysis Guide.

 

*Although not all of these are current, 2015 cartoons, I thought they were a great addition to the current questions regarding raising the federal debt ceiling permanently. 

 

 

 

 

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Should there be a federal debt ceiling?

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August 5, 2015

Should there be a limit on how much the federal government can borrow?

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) set forth that question in a report last month which outlined the results of the 2013 debt limit impasse and subsequent government shut down.  Presently, the federal government has been using emergency measures since March in order to avoid going over the federal debt limit.  The Wall Street Journal also points out that the 2013 impasse cost taxpayers between $38 to $70 million.

Have students research pros and cons to raising (or eliminating) the federal debt limit before drawing a conclusion based on the facts and information they find.  How does this tie to UFR Lesson 1.1 on Social Security and the national debt, and UFR Lesson 1.4 on taxation and the national debt?

 

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