The Update: What’s Happening in Harrisburg and DC – November 1, 2021



Progress has been made in coming together on a deal for Build Back Better and the infrastructure package. See below for what we can expect in the legislation so far.

In Solidarity,

Stephen Herzenberg
Executive Director

The Build Back Better Framework: A Transformative Plan for 21st-Century America

President Biden’s Build Back Better framework is an unprecedented and transformative plan to better the lives of all Americans—Black, brown, and white; those with low, moderate, or high incomes; the youngest children and the oldest seniors. It will help families care for children while making quality pre-K available to all 3- and 4-year-olds. It will create hundreds of thousands of good jobs, many in unionized trades and clean manufacturing while drastically cutting greenhouse gases and reducing energy costs for every household. It will reduce the cost of health care and housing for millions. And it will make college education more affordable, boosting the future prospects of our young people and our economy as a whole. It will be paid for by new taxes on the largest, most profitable corporations and the wealthiest Americans while cutting taxes for working people—all while reducing the deficit.

Read more.

How (and How Many) Pennsylvanians Are Helped by the Build Back Better Plan

President Biden’s Build Back Better plan is an unprecedented and transformative plan to better the lives of all Americans—Black, brown, and white; those with low, moderate, or high incomes; the youngest children and the oldest seniors.

We have given an overview of the whole program—but here we want to focus on the many ways Pennsylvanians will be touched by the Build Back Better plan.

Read more.

The “Billionaire Tax”: What It Is and Why We Need It

As negotiations between President Biden and House and Senate members over the Build Back Better plan have developed in the last few weeks, a new tax proposal to fund the close to $2 billion investment in health care, child care, paid family leave, climate change, and other programs, has come to the fore: a “billionaire tax.” While Senator Wyden and others have been discussing this proposal for some time, it is a relatively unknown concept and would be a new form of federal taxation. Here we briefly explain what it is and why it is an excellent idea.

What Is the Corporate Profits Minimum Tax and Why Do We Need It?
This new tax would raise roughly $200 billion to $300 billion dollars over ten years. These revenues would enable the federal government to make new investments in helping families with children, health care, child care, elder care, paid family leave, and new programs to limit climate change.
Raising revenue to fund the Build Back Better program is not the only reason we should enact a corporate profits minimum tax law. Basic fairness demands it as well.

Read more.

Press Release
The Latest PA Jobs Report Clearly Shows That Cutting Unemployment Benefits Won’t Drive People Back to Work
The Pennsylvania jobs report for September echoed the earlier U.S. September jobs report in delivering a resounding ‘no’ to the question ‘did the end of more generous pandemic unemployment benefits lead workers to pour back to factory gates and retail stores and restaurants with ‘help wanted’ signs?’ In fact, the size of the Pennsylvania labor force and the number of Pennsylvania jobs decreased. The Delta virus and the lack of affordable child care continue to be the main factors slowing the economy and keeping potential workers at home. If unemployment compensation is holding back the economy, it is because wages are too low—the early September cutback in benefits took away $376 million in income every week from Pennsylvania families, nearly $20 billion on an annual basis. That drop in consumer buying power hurts local businesses as well as unemployed workers and their families.


Build Back Better (BBB) legislation is moving to a vote in the U.S. House in the next few days, so your representative needs to hear from you NOW! The bill presents a historic opportunity to make unprecedented investments in high-quality, universal pre-K; good-paying jobs; more affordable health care; housing; childcare and higher education; and broadly shared economic security.

Tell your member of Congress to vote for the BBB bill! If your representative has been championing the BBB agenda from the beginning, be sure to say thanks!

Click here to take action!

Labor ‘militancy’ is on the rise in Philly. Workers and experts explain #Striketober

“’Part of the language about essential workers is about giving workers a sense that they have the right, that they deserve a better shake because they’re essential … Everyone else depends on them,’ said Stephen Herzenberg with the Keystone Research Center, a left-leaning Harrisburg think tank. Those essential jobs were also often low-wage food service, agriculture or warehouse distribution jobs that had been overlooked before, according to Herzenberg.However, he said equally, if not more, important was the undercurrent of organizing that happened before 2020.’The broader story before the pandemic is that you had a decades-long process of labor unions and workers figuring out how they might have the leverage to win decent wages and benefits,’ he said, as union membership declined during the second half of the 20th century. Herzenberg pointed to the unionization of airport workers at Philadelphia International Airport and contingent faculty at places like Temple University, as signs of a change in focus about who could be organized.”

Pennsylvania Capital Star

Assuming all goes to plan, and something doesn’t upset the apple cart (again), Democratic leaders in the U.S. House are looking for votes as early as Tuesday on President Joe Biden’s pared-down $1.75 trillion domestic agenda.An approval, as the Associated Press reported over the weekend, would clear the way for a House vote on the White House’s $1.2 trillion, bipartisan infrastructure deal.The broad outlines of the plan emerged last Thursday, as Capital-Star Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa wrote. But amid all the national hubbub, Pennsylvanians may be justifiably wondering what’s in it for them.

Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Ended, But Pennsylvanians Didn’t Return to Work as Expected. What’s Up?

The Keystone Research Center — a Harrisburg-headquartered nonpartisan economics research and policy development org that also houses the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center — published new findings based on national and state-level data on jobs and unemployment from September. Several states had already chosen to withdraw from the federal unemployment benefits earlier in the summer, but the program ended for all other states in the first week of September, providing the first month of data on whether or not removing those benefits affected job growth.