Mijin Cha

Mijin Cha is a senior policy analyst at the Demos Sustainable Progress Initiative. She is the author of The New York City Green Collar Jobs Roadmap and has written for the Georgetown International Law Review and the Albany Law Environmental Outlook Journal.

Recent Articles

An Antidote to Citizens United?

Last week, 72 New York State Assemblymen sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver urging him to support a public financing program for primary, general, and special election campaigns for statewide offices. Such a program would match modest contributions with public funds, which allow small contributors to have a larger impact and brings more donors into the political process. As New York legislators consider adopting a public financing system, a new report from Demos shows the positive impact public financing has had in Connecticut. Fresh Start: The Impact of Public Financing in Connecticut analyzes how public financing has affected both legislators and the legislative process by complimenting empirical data studies with interviews of current and former legislators. Connecticut has offered public financing for candidates running for statewide office, the General Assembly, and the State Senate since 2008. The report finds that the program is very popular and that 77 percent of...

Introducing Economic Stimulus Done Right

Flickr/Wisconsin Jobs Now
A new bill introduced today by Senator Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, and more importantly, peg it to inflation so that it would automatically adjust. The proposed wage hike is higher than the $9 per hour proposed by President Obama and is closer to what the minimum wage would be now if it had kept up with the rate of inflation. The bill also increases the tipped wage, which has not risen in twenty years. Increasing the minimum wage is as no-brainer of a policy as it can get. One, it is extremely popular with the public. A remarkable 73 percent of voters support increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour and tying it to inflation. Two, it would impact millions of workers—more than 30 million workers would receive a raise if the minimum wage was increased. Three, it would create a significant economic boost. Recovery from the Great Recession has been sluggish because consumer activity makes up 70 percent of U.S. economic...

How a Few Wealthy Individuals Shape the Climate Agenda

We’ve highlighted how the U.S. media leads the world in the amount of time given to climate deniers, even though nearly 80 percent of Americans believe in climate change . Now The Guardian reports that conservative billionaires funneled nearly $120 million to more than 100 groups to promote climate denial. Between 2002 and 2010, the money built a vast network of think tanks and advocacy groups singularly focused on making climate change a polarizing wedge issue for conservatives. And, based on the level of time devoted to climate denying in the media and the inability to engage in bi-partisan climate discussions, it seems they were successful. The money was routed through two trusts, the Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund . While a host of conservative causes were funded by the Donors Trust, climate denial was at the top of the list. Not surprisingly, leading climate deniers like the American Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute, and Americans for Prosperity received...

Is a Democracy Trust Fund a Good Idea?

Cecilia Tkaczyk’s victory is the latest sign that New Yorkers want a different campaign system and they want it now. Tkaczyk challenged a millionaire Assemblyman in a GOP-gerrymandered district and yet, despite a cash disadvantage and little name recognition, she managed to win by 19 votes. And, she managed to win based on her support for publicly financed elections. During the recount battle, she wrote , “If I do get sworn in, I’ll know my support for public financing is a central reason I won the job.” As my colleague Liz Kennedy wrote , New York State is particularly in need of public financing. New York has one of the highest contribution limits in the country and individuals and limited liability corporations can give as much as $60,800 to candidates for statewide office. Even that limit is suspect as a recent NYPIRG report found that hundreds of donors give more money than is allowed every year and candidates fail to disclose large contributions that are given close to Election...

Win, Win, Win: The Case for a Carbon Tax

As deficit talks continue to make little progress, we should revisit how a carbon tax would not only help raise badly needed revenue but could also be essential to fighting the climate crisis. A recent Congressional Research Service report found that a tax of $20 per metric ton of carbon dioxide would generate enough revenue to cut the 10-year budget deficit in half. This price is actually less than the carbon tax in British Columbia , which rose to $30 per metric ton of carbon dioxide in July 2012. Not only has BC’s carbon tax resulted in substantial decline of greenhouse gases, it has not negatively impacted economic growth—the province has slightly higher GDP growth than the rest of the country. As I wrote yesterday, a carbon tax is a better approach to emissions reductions than an emissions trading scheme. With emissions trading, carbon credits are often priced too low and/or too many credits are given away. As a result, the market-based emissions trading has not been as...