Show cover of Policy for the People

Policy for the People

Welcome to Policy for the People, a show that explores the public policies that can lift up all Oregonians. This show is a collaboration between KMUZ radio ( and the Oregon Center for Public Policy (


Trans data matters: the importance of the U.S. Transgender Survey
In addition to violence and discrimination, the transgender community faces a challenge that few others do: the fact that the federal government collects almost no data about the trans community. The absence of reliable data about the realities experienced by the transgender community makes it harder for the community to fight for justice. In the absence of government-collected data about the trans community, one particular resource has helped fill the void: the U.S. Trans Survey.Seth Johnstone, Transgender Justice Program Manager with Basic Rights Oregon, discusses  the importance of increasing visibility and awareness of the transgender community, as well as the importance of the U.S. Trans Survey.
15:08 11/21/2022
Our labor, their fortunes: Billionaires capture Oregon's wealth
Wealth inequality is at mind-boggling levels. A new report by the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) shows how much of Oregon’s wealth is in the hands of a few billionaires. OCPP Policy Analyst Tyler Mac Innis explains just how extreme wealth inequality is in Oregon and the factors driving inequality. But how does Oregon compare to the rest of the country? Carl Davis, Research Director at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, explains how Oregon stacks up in terms of wealth inequality and how federal tax policy is a key tool for reducing inequality.Read OCPP's report Wealth Inequality in Oregon Is Extreme.Read ITEP's report The Geographic Distribution of Extreme Wealth in the U.S.
28:54 11/10/2022
How Measure 113 aims to end legislative walkouts
In recent years, some lawmakers have failed to show up for work as a tactic to derail legislation. We speak with Tan Perkins, campaign manager for Measure 113, about the harm that legislative walkouts inflicts on Oregonians, and how the measure would deter walkouts.In the second segment of the show, Audrey Mechling of the Oregon Center for Public Policy explains the good, the bad, and the ugly in the latest poverty figures.
28:37 10/13/2022
A re-energized labor movement sparks hope
In an earlier era, a vibrant labor movement nurtured a broad middle class. But half-a-century ago, under severe attack from corporations, the fortunes of organized labor began to turn for the worse.Right now, though, we are seeing hopeful signs of a revival of union power, explains Mark Brenner, an economist and co-director of the Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) at the University of Oregon. Mark discusses the past and present state of the labor movement.Few workers face greater challenges than farmworkers, who endure low-pay and dangerous working conditions while performing truly essential work. In the second half of the show, Reyna Lopez, executive director of Pineros Y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), discusses the challenges faced by Oregon’s farmworker movement, as well as its achievements and aspirations.
28:30 09/08/2022
One big corporation keeps us from having a free, simple tax filing system
Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, has used all kinds of tricks to keep our tax system complicated and expensive. Most Americans pay the price, especially those who can least afford it. But there is legislation in Congress that would fix the problem, creating a truly free and simple tax filing system for most folks. Guests: Janet Bauer of The Oregon Center for Public Policy and Susan Harley of Public Citizen.
28:05 08/11/2022
Reproductive justice is economic justice
The U.S. Supreme Court decision ending of the constitutional right to abortion threatens economic harm to many. In our first segment of this episode, we discuss the economic impact of the court's ruling with Asha Banerjee, an Economic Analyst with the Economic Policy Institute.Did you know one in four minimum wage workers in Oregon are parents?  In our second segment, OCPP Policy Analyst Tyler Mac Innis discusses the increase in Oregon's minimum wage that just went into effect, and how far our minimum wage remains from being a living wage.
28:01 07/08/2022
The rich don't need more money: why we need to reform the "kicker"
A few weeks ago, we learned that a $3 billion "kicker" rebate could be on its way. As usual, the rich would get huge checks, while the lowest-income Oregonians -- those who could really use some extra money to pay the bills -- would get chump change. In this episode, we hear from Mark McMullen, head of the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, about the state of Oregon's economy and the prospects of a new kicker. We also hear from Daniel Hauser, the Oregon Center for Public Policy's Director of Strategic Policy Projects, on what's wrong with the kicker and how to reform it to serve the interests of all Oregonians.
28:09 06/09/2022
Oregon's biggest housing program is a wreck
Oregon's biggest housing program, the mortgage interest deduction, does nothing to ease the state's long-running housing crisis. That's because this billion-dollar housing subsidy mainly benefits well-off homeowners. This is only one of the many flaws of the mortgage interest deduction, according to a recent audit by the Oregon Secretary of State's Office. In this episode of Policy for the People, we talk with Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and Audits Director Kip Memmott about what the audit revealed.Read the audit Without Legislative Action the Mortgage Interest Deduction Will Remain Regressive and Inequitable. 
28:10 05/12/2022
Cash works: why Oregon needs guaranteed income
Large scale experiments carried out during the pandemic have given a boost to an old idea: addressing poverty and economic insecurity by giving people cash with no strings attached.  In this episode, we speak with State Representative Andrea Valderrama (HD 47) about the legislature's recent decision to send a one-time payment of $600 to low-paid workers in Oregon. Also, OCPP Director of Policy Research Janet Bauer discusses the growing body of evidence showing that guaranteed income and other cash policies are effective at addressing economic insecurity.
28:09 04/14/2022
What the tax code means for gender justice
On Women's History Month, Policy for the People explores the gender biases in the tax code and reforms that can advance gender justice. We discuss these issues with Amy Matsui, Director of Income Security and Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center.
29:03 03/10/2022
Oregon's child care crisis
With guests Andrea Paluso of Family Forward Oregon and Mary King, economics professor emeritus at Portland State University, we examine Oregon’s child care crisis – the challenges it poses for families, child care workers, and the economy. And we discuss the kinds of policy changes that can set things right.
28:10 02/10/2022
How deportation harms families and the state's economy
Despite often performing work considered essential to the nation's critical infrastructure, undocumented workers live under the constant fear of deportation. In this episode of Policy for the People, Janet Bauer of the Oregon Center for Public Policy and Isa Peña of Innovation Law Lab discuss how deportation wreaks havoc on families and weakens Oregon's economy, as well as what the state can do to reduce the harm.Learn more: read the report Deportation harms Oregon's economy and upends family security.
28:52 01/13/2022
The Racist Roots of Oregon's Tax System
In this special episode of Policy for the People, we share a recording of a presentation by the Oregon Center for Public Policy titled "The Racist Roots of Oregon's Tax System."  Listen to OCPP communications director Juan Carlos Ordóñez discuss how Oregon's tax system entrenches and even deepens racial inequality. 
26:36 12/10/2021
How the superrich exploit domestic tax havens
One of the biggest tax havens in the world — one of the main places where the superrich go to stash their money and avoid taxes — is the U.S. This is largely due to the fact that a number of U.S. states have transformed themselves into tax havens. In this episode of Policy for the People, we talk to Kalena Thomhave, a researcher with the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, about the rise of domestic tax havens and how they make the already severe problem of vast wealth inequality even worse.
23:49 11/12/2021
Why we need Build Back Better
In this episode, we discuss the Build Back Better legislation before Congress. Samantha Jacoby of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and OCPP's Alejandro Queral explain what this transformational legislation would mean for the nation and Oregon.
32:06 10/08/2021
Poor quality jobs abound
In this episode of Policy for the People, we explore the problem of poor quality jobs — jobs that pay too little to adequately support a family and that often come with few if any benefits. OCPP Senior Policy Analyst Janet Bauer explains the dimensions of the problem and what Oregon can do to address it.You can dive deeper into the issue by reading our report Poor Quality Jobs Predominate in Strong Economy. 
23:21 09/10/2021
Income inequality remains the defining challenge of our times
The latest data confirms the wide disparities by income that existed on the eve of the pandemic. In this show, OCPP Executive Director Alejandro Queral discusses the latest figures on inequality, why economic inequality harms Oregonians, and what kinds of policies changes are needed to shrink inequality.
23:39 08/13/2021
Undocumented workers: essential yet excluded
Undocumented workers in Oregon are more likely than not to perform work considered essential during the pandemic, yet they were left out of federal emergency assistance that other workers received. In this episode, Martha Sonato of PCUN, Oregon's farmworker union, and OCPP's Janet Bauer discuss the economic challenges faced by Oregon's undocumented workers.
38:27 07/09/2021
Latest revenue forecast says the "kicker" is coming
In the latest episode of Policy for the People, we discuss what the state economists are saying about the economy and tax collections.
23:46 06/12/2021
Rental assistance: a key to stabilizing families
While it may seem obvious, providing rent assistance to those unable to afford the rent is the best way to keep people stably housed.
17:43 05/15/2021
The American Rescue Plan Act
This episode of Policy for the People examines the American Rescue Plan Act, enacted by Congress in March 2021. As OCPP Senior Policy Analyst Janet Bauer explains, the plan potentially signals a change in direction toward an economy that aims for shared prosperity
22:18 04/09/2021
Tax policy through a racial equity lens
Although Oregon tax policy is no longer explicitly racist, it continues to entrench and even deepen racial disparities.
29:35 03/12/2021
Wage theft is widespread
Wage theft is widespread and pervasive. Part of the reason for that is because greedy employers face no real downside to stealing the wages of their employees.
23:00 02/13/2021