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AltAusterity Digest #33 February 1-7, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Feb 09, 2018

Germany’s political deadlock could finally be coming to an end as Angela Markel’s CDU-CSU has reached a tentative deal with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD). While the deal still needs to be approved by SPD members, the arrangement will see the SPD control six ministries including finance and foreign affairs. Other points of contention included workers’ rights, healthcare, immigration, Europe, and taxes. However, with fiscal and labour policy changing hands from a pro-austerity agenda to a centre-left one, it may signal a shift in austerity politics.

Earlier this week, US House Speaker Paul Ryan celebrated via Twitter the story of a woman whose weekly paycheck rose $1.50. Ryan’s comment was supposed to highlight the connection between the recent GOP tax cuts and benefits for middle-class workers. However, after facing a large amount of criticism and backlash, he removed the tweet only hours later. In comparison to the $78 a year that the woman is earning from her weekly paycheck, the billionaire Koch Brothers, who lobbied heavily for the tax cuts, will save $1.4 billion in taxes.

Emmanuel Macron’s labour reforms have resulted in a wave of layoffs across France and have left the labour movement in disarray. Protests and direct action against the reforms have been sporadic and uncoordinated, allowing Macron to implement the reforms by executive order without much opposition. On Thursday, the government also announced a campaign for voluntary buyouts in the civil service, attacking some of the country’s most secure jobs. Macron’s next area of reform will be higher education’s admission procedures which could see first-year university students denied a spot in their preferred field of study.

An IMF report looks at the longevity gap, which measures the inequality in access to health care and its impact on citizens’ health. Since poor health leads to disruptions in employment, productivity and growth, the IMF is concerned with how countries can improve their healthcare systems. Among the suggestions for narrowing health inequality are increasing access to and use of healthcare services; improving healthcare quality in low income regions and facilities; increasing investments in nutritional programs and clean water and sanitation services; taxing “unhealthy behaviors” (smoking, sugar, alcohol, raising fuel prices); and efficient spending, including increasing funding for primary and preventative care.

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!