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AltAusterity Digest #90 March 14-20, 2019

This week in Austerity News:

Mar 22, 2019

A decade of austerity has forced local authorities in the UK to make difficult decisions about that types of services they want to provide. One of the areas that has been hardest hit is cultural services such as arts and museums. Most recently, a £320,000 cut in Leicester city council’s arts budget for 2019/20 has led to a proposal to replace all four expert curators in Leicester’s museums with a cheaper “audience development and engagement team.” The proposal received widespread condemnation and has generated conversation about the cultural impacts of austerity. In the past five years alone, spending on cultural pursuits has declined by over 30% in England and Wales.

Mr. Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers have conceded that the 2017 tax cuts will not deliver the 3% annual growth that was promised. Doubling-down on their position, the Trump administration forecasters stated that additional reforms including rollbacks of labour legislation, a $1 trillion infrastructure plan and another round of tax cuts will all be necessary to raise the average growth rate for the next decade. Among the targeted areas for deregulation are occupational licensing rules and caps on the ratio of children to staff in day care centers, which raises the price of childcare. The Council of Economic Advisers has predicted 3.2% growth for 2019, which is nearly a full point higher than the prediction form the Federal Reserve.

On Tuesday, the Trudeau government released its 460-page budget titled “Investing in the Middle Class.” The Liberals are planning on deficit spending over the next few years, though with projections that the debt-to-GDP ratio will decline from 31.3% in 2017/18 to 28.6% in 2022/23. Among some of the key spending areas are a $1.7b investment in new skills training tax credits, $5 - 6b over 10 years for broadband infrastructure in northern and rural communities, $4.7b for Indigenous communities, $3.9b in compensation for supply-managed framers losing income from free trade agreements, and $6b for research in health and science.  

For Social Europe, Rosa Pavanelli discusses the link between austerity and sexist policy. Due to continued cuts to services that require care work – education, healthcare, social and family services – the labour requirements have been shifted from the public sphere to a private sphere where women are expected to do the bulk of the work. For example, in France, women do 64% of the country’s unpaid care and domestic work while spending at least the same amount of time on paid activities. In the EU, 25% of women cite care work and family responsibilities as the reason for not being in the paid labour force, while the matching figure for men is 3%.  

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation.