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The Hill featured President Marvin Krislov's column: "An 'upskill bill' can be the GI Bill for a post-COVID workforce"

02/01/2021

The Hill featured President Marvin Krislov's column: "An 'upskill bill' can be the GI Bill for a post-COVID workforce"

President Biden took office with four top priorities: combating COVID-19, rebuilding the economy, addressing racial inequity and fighting climate change. Starting right away, he has promised action to ramp up vaccine production and distribution and provide much needed support for families who are struggling.

One practical priority will help address all those goals: getting all of America, from all backgrounds, back to work — in the kinds of good-paying jobs that serve the needs of today and tomorrow and have proven resilient through the last year of pandemic. 

It’s why I believe Congress should include among its stimulus measures an 'upskill Bill', a major investment in higher education for all Americans. 

Just as the GI Bill changed America for the better in the decades after World War II, the upskill bill can transform America after the coronavirus, building an equitable workforce trained to address crucial challenges like healthcare and decarbonization. 

The last year has made clear the benefits accruing to the skilled workforce. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that only about five percent of service workers have been able to work from home, while more than half of information workers did. Beyond that, skilled workers didn’t see job losses in the same volume and it’s less likely that their jobs will simply no longer exist. Automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning were already threatening many unskilled jobs; the crisis has only accelerated that shift. 

This period has clarified things we’ve long known to be true. College graduates earn far more in their lifetimes than those without college degrees because the skills they learn in college — not just subject-specific expertise but also soft skills like critical thinking, leadership and communication — make them much more valuable to employers. Even some level of college education helps increase lifetime earnings and we’re increasingly seeing that those who already have degrees need and want new training to prepare them for different kinds of work.

Read the full Hill article.

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The Hill featured Haub Law Professor David N. Cassuto's co-authored piece "Torturing fewer animals will mean burying fewer people"

07/23/2020

The Hill featured Haub Law Professor David N. Cassuto's co-authored piece "Torturing fewer animals will mean burying fewer people"

COVID-19 has killed hundreds of thousands of people, devastated the global economy and left millions jobless, homeless and hopeless. Like COVID-19, 60 percent of viruses that infect humans and 75 percent of recent infectious diseases are “zoonotic,” meaning they originate in animals. 

We’ve dealt with zoonoses in the past — SARS, avian influenza, HIV, Ebola, West Nile, to name a few. COVID-19, also a zoonotic disease, was not unexpected. As scientists race to develop vaccines for each new zoonotic event, the rest of us might well ask why we keep enabling the spread of these diseases. Avoiding future pandemics is possible but it will require an unprecedented cooperative effort to remake and enforce international animal law.

Zoonotic diseases result from human interaction with animals confined in close, unsanitary conditions. It is fashionable to blame China’s live animal markets, but the reality is far more complex. Live markets are brutally cruel, facilitate trafficking in protected species and encourage unsustainable and unhealthy eating practices. They also form a vast, criminal enterprise built on the illegal trade, slaughter and suffering of wild and endangered animals. 

Read the full Hill article.

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The Hill featured Pace Haub Law Professor Darren Rosenblum's piece "The Supreme Court's decision won't cure inequality — quotas will"

06/22/2020

The Hill featured Pace Haub Law Professor Darren Rosenblum's piece "The Supreme Court's decision won't cure inequality — quotas will"

Since 2015, members of the LGBT community have been able to marry someone from the same sex, but in many states, they haven’t been able to work where they want. Monday’s Supreme Court Bostock decision changed that. Now, not only is firing someone because of who they choose to marry illegal, but so is firing someone based on their self-identified sex. 

But I take the victory with a grain of salt: we should be skeptical about how much progress to expect from such decisions. This decision will not ensure our equality — we need more aggressive legislation, including quotas. Look at the race context: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has unquestionably protected people based on race since its passage, but as the massive mobilization after George Floyd’s death demonstrates, racial equality remains a distant dream.  

This is also true for sex. Since the revolutionary sex equality cases brought by then-litigator, now-Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the early 1970s, we have indeed seen radical improvements in sex equality. But inequality is so pervasive, we don’t even see it. Women still only make 80 percent of what men earn, and black people only make 70 percent of what white people do. Our corporate sector actively promotes how inclusive it is, but it’s a man’s world. Women constitute only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. There are more CEOs named James than there are women CEOs. 

Read the full Hill article.

 

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The Hill featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law Distinguished Professor Jason Czarnezki's piece "Lessons from the climate and COVID-19 crises"

04/10/2020

The Hill featured Elisabeth Haub School of Law Distinguished Professor Jason Czarnezki's piece "Lessons from the climate and COVID-19 crises"

The world’s current handling of the coronavirus pandemic — an imminent threat spreading rapidly across the globe — offers lessons to turn around the stark lack of global action toward the climate crisis. 

Climate change is also a harmful crisis with projected impacts resulting in mass migration, biodiversity and food insecurity. For example, the most recent global estimate is that “environmental migrants” expected by 2050 range from 150 million to 300 million. Both the COVID-19 and climate crises create emotional trauma, death, cultural and social change, and can undermine democratic institutions, civil society and civil liberties — Hungary’s dissolution of Parliament, and cell phone tracking and military lockdowns in numerous countries.

Whether deserved or not, the international press has levied an overwhelming amount of criticism upon various countries such as the United States, China and Sweden for their coronavirus responses. 

Before drawing conclusions and in order to better prepare for future crises, the press, individual nations and the international community would be wise to pay close attention to pre-coronavirus levels of emergency preparedness. Attention should also be paid to how politicians and governments have responded to COVID-19, how scientists are involved, and the resulting public health (both physical and mental), economic and potential democratic fallout — the extent to which is unknown and will be for some time.

Society must recognize that both climate change and COVID-19 are sustainability and security crises. The three pillars of sustainability— environmental, social and economic stability — essentially define “security.” Without fear of death and illness, without a job or income, without the mental health that comes with schooling, open playgrounds and seeing friends and family, and without clean air and water, one cannot feel secure. 

The causes and effects of climate change, including air pollution, destruction of habitat and migration camps, can exacerbate and accelerate threats like coronavirus and other zoonotic diseases.

Thus, what legal rights should humans demand from leaders in light of these crises and threats to the security of themselves, their families, and their health and livelihoods?

Rights that increase the individual, social and natural stability — and which are currently under threat by COVID-19 and climate change — include universal health care, paid sick leave, unemployment compensation, housing, food, a living wage, a clean and healthy environment,and a properly functioning and sustainable climate system. 

For example, the norm in the European Union is to provide free or low-cost healthcare and many weeks of paid sick leave. In the Netherlands, the Dutch Supreme Court held in the Urgenda case that the Dutch government must reduce emissions immediately in line with its human rights obligations.

What we see in the COVID-19 response is that national governments, through legislation and their own purchasing, have the buying power and economic wherewithal to turn the corner on climate change. It is only the will to act that is lacking. The economic power of public procurement is significant. In the U.S., federal spending accounts for nearly $4 trillion, over 20 percent of gross domestic product. In Europe, public authorities account for about 16 percent of the EU’s GDP. Governments have the ability to force public health and climate innovations in markets to ensure we have the materials and infrastructure humans need to be safe in the short and long term. 

We can have adequate personal protection equipment for healthcare workers and adequate ventilators for patients, as well as renewable energy to power the planet while customers enjoy high-speed rail. The COVID-19 crisis teaches that society has the financial resources and industrial capacity to meet these challenges.

But, given the lack of political will and failure to meet these challenges, who decides? Who should be in charge? 

The COVID-19 crisis offers additional lessons. In terms of initial preparedness prior to outbreak, politicians would be wise to listen to the advice and findings of scientists. Note, South Korea’s infectious disease preparedness level.  

Read the full Hill article.

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"The Hill and MSN" featured Lubin School of Business associate professor Philip G. Cohen's op-ed "The difference between good and bad tax reform"

04/26/2019

"The Hill and MSN" featured Lubin School of Business associate professor Philip G. Cohen's op-ed "The difference between good and bad tax reform"

Philip G. Cohen is an associate professor of taxation at Pace University's Lubin School of Business. He is the former vice president of tax & general tax counsel for Unilever United States, Inc.

Tax reform done correctly can be very beneficial for the United States and the American people. To be constructive, tax reform should endeavor to promote fairness, efficiency and simplicity. Further, the tax system needs to generate enough revenue to meet the government's requirements. 

Some tax reform measures can do more harm than good. I remain a firm critic of many parts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). It remains a poster child for a poorly conceived, incredibly complex (even for a tax act) partisan legislation enacted without due deliberation, that has and will continue to exacerbate the national debt and further drive good jobs and income offshore.

It also punished many residents of blue states like New York, New Jersey and California by capping the itemized deduction for all state taxes to $10,000. This sizably increased the federal income taxes paid by many residents of states with high income and/or property taxes.

While a corporate rate reduction was necessary, the 21-percent rate provided for by the TCJA went too far. Three new tax reform proposals, one from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and two from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) were recently announced that are intended, in part, to address wealth inequality.

While I have enormous respect for Sen. Wyden and Sen. Warren and recognize the problem of wealth inequality, two of the concepts would make for unsound tax policy.

Wyden has suggested that investment gains be placed on a mark-to-market system (where one is taxed on appreciation even absent sale) and be taxed at ordinary income rates.

The Internal Revenue Code currently includes a very limited mark-to-market approach for securities dealers and securities traders who agree to elect this treatment, as well as for certain financial products known as section 1256 contracts. 

Warren has a proposal to impose a wealth tax on "ultra-millionaires" at an annual rate of 2 percent for those whose net worth is greater than $50 million, and 3 percent on net worth greater than $1 billion.

Finally, Sen. Warren has recently put forth the idea that corporations, which report to shareholders global net income of over $100 million, pay a 7-percent minimum tax on global net reported income over this amount.  While the first two plans should be rejected, the latter is certainly deserving of consideration.

If an investor buys stock in what is known as a "C" corporation (all publicly traded corporations are "C" corporations) and the shares appreciate but are not sold, requiring he/she pay tax on this unrealized gain would fail a fundamental tenet of U.S. tax policy, which is to not impose tax on those who do not have the wherewithal to pay the tax from the deemed profit because it is simply unfair.

Removing long-term capital gain incentives would further add acid to the wound. While there is something arguably unjust with Warren Buffet paying tax at a marginal rate lower than his secretary because of the tax incentives for capital gains and qualified dividends, this is not the solution.

Neither is creating a very hard-to-administer new tax on wealth in an environment where the Internal Revenue Service does not have the resources to administer the current tax laws. Perhaps starting with eliminating many estate tax loopholes, as Andrew Ross Sorkin recently suggested in the New York Times, would be a better approach.

Warren's other proposal is known as "The Real Corporate Profits Tax." lt would be based on publicly reported book income. This may be an appropriate fix to some of the TCJA corporate largess and a step, albeit minor, in the right direction regarding addressing an out-of-control national debt. 

The TCJA reduced the federal corporate tax rate precipitously from a top rate of 35 percent to 21 percent, eliminated the corporate minimum tax and exempted much foreign-source dividend income of U.S. multinational corporations from tax.

Paying a relatively small tax on worldwide income where a corporation has reported $100 million-plus in profits to its shareholders is consistent with the notion of fairness, which is critical element of a good tax system.

Read the Hill article.

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