Original Reporting

Original Reporting | By Kevin C. Brown | Government services, Role of government
In looking at the decisions the Postal Service has been forced to make since the early 2000s, it is almost as though the Bush Administration and successive Congresses had decided that the task was to make the Postal Service a failed business and a failed public service. The alternative hypothesis? That no one at the wheel knew what he or she was doing. More
Original Reporting | By Heather Rogers, By Samantha Cook | Environment
In the face of gains by proponents of fossil fuels, some groups are in denial, and others are hunkering down. Only a few are exploring new strategies to go on the offensive to change the now-dominant media and political formula that environmental health and sustainability must take a back seat to job creation and economic growth. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti, By Meade Klingensmith | Advertising, Health care, Insurance
Two large American companies recently announced that they are planning abandon the traditional “defined benefit” model of providing health insurance benefits to their employees and switch to a “defined contribution” model, in which they will offer employees a fixed annual sum — like a voucher — that the workers can use to subsidize insurance they will have to buy for themselves. The companies and other proponents of the defined contribution model tout the shift as “empowering” employees with greater “choice.” The result of Remapping Debate’s inquiries, however, make clear that the central motivation for the switch is to shift the risk of rising health insurance costs from employers to employees, thereby undermining a multi-generational compact between management and labor. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Corporate influence, Open government
Part 3 of our series on government incentive programs for businesses examines the justifications given by state and local officials who favor granting subsidies, but resist disclosing who gets them. More
Original Reporting | By Heather Rogers | Government services, Law, State government
According to data from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), 42 state legislatures reduced their state court budgets between 2008 and 2011. A variety of cutbacks ensued — including staff layoffs, reductions in courthouse hours, and pay cuts for courthouse personnel — and many state judicial systems have consequently slowed down. Businesses use the courts far more than anyone else. Are some businesses that have genuine grievances throwing up their hands and accepting their losses because of the prospect of increased delays and higher costs? More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Corporate influence, Open government
Part 2 of our series on government incentive programs for businesses focuses on the lack of transparency at the local level. More
Original Reporting | By Kevin C. Brown | Elections, Voting rights
According to the Census Bureau, even during presidential election years, at least a quarter of the eligible electorate has been unregistered in the period from 1980 through 2008. But current voter registration efforts don’t come close to meeting the need, especially because so much of registration under the U.S. system is highly labor-intensive. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Corporate influence, Open government
Using public dollars to subsidize private businesses has become a routine part of economic development policy in the United States. But many economists believe that the benefits to a state or locality are generally modest, and that incentives can actually hurt other local businesses. Moreover, looked at from the point of view of the net effect on the national economy, some incentives provide no gain, and others are harmful to productivity. So why do policy makers keep doling out these subsidies? The first part in a Remapping Debate series on government aid to businesses. More