Welcome back! The Roosevelt Rundown is an email series featuring the Roosevelt Institute’s top 5 stories of the week. 2018 will be a pivotal year, and we’re grateful to have you on our side. (Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong is on sabbatical until May, so our Executive Vice President, Jeff Krehely, will be Acting President and CEO until her return.)
1.Progressives’ Response to Trump’s Tax Law
The passage of the Republican tax law was a brutal blow, but the progressive fight against it was not without victories. Now, we must keep the momentum going. In an open letter from Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong and Vice President of Advocacy and Policy Steph Sterling, we explain why a call to repeal this law is necessary, but not enough. “To harness the moment for real change, a progressive vision for a reformed tax code must also be central to every progressive’s candidacy in 2018.” As progressives, we cannot let the Trump tax law stand. But to consolidate the substantive and political gains we have made in this fight and restructure our economy, we must also put forward a real vision for a better tax code and a better economy.
2. The Donor Relief Act
In Project Syndicate, Roosevelt Chief Economist Joseph E. Stiglitz describes Trump’s tax law as a bill that “is neither a reform effort nor an equitable tax cut.” Rising inequality in America has jeopardized the nation’s economic health, and our new tax code will make this worse. “A more distorted economy is not a healthy economy,” says Stiglitz, “…and the new tax legislation will lead inexorably to a more unequal society.” Pushed through Congress in an effort to please wealthy donors and powerful corporations, the Republican tax law is designed to serve the top. The resulting outcome: rewards for the very few, pain for the many.
3. Trickle-up Economics
The facts are clear. Corporate tax cuts—a core feature of President Trump’s tax law—never have and never will trickle-down to workers and consumers or to investments in productive growth that our economy needs. For CNNMoney, Roosevelt Fellow J.W. Mason uses past behavior of shareholders as precedent. “You don’t usually hear businesses say ‘We invest more because our shareholders are wealthier,’” he said. The tax code incentivized executives to invest in themselves (rather than in employees and activities that would support long-term, shared growth) before it was made even more regressive by the GOP tax plan. In other words, our current disparities in wealth and opportunity will only be exacerbated.
4. You’re Looking at the “Future of Work”
“The Future of Work is now and it is fissured,” tweeted scholar David Weil. When viewed adversely, the “Future of Work”—a term used to characterize employment in the 21st century—is often associated with the rise of automation. But, as Politico’s Danny Vinik explains, a decades-long shift in corporate behavior has disrupted the workplace—not robots taking jobs. Increasingly motivated to hoard profits, executives are investing less in workers. “Jobs are the basis for a whole suite of social guarantees meant to ensure a stable life,” says Vinik. Unless we create new incentives for corporations to make better decisions, the Future of Work will remain bleak.
5. Rejecting Privatization: A Blueprint
When education is sold to the private sector, prospects for equality in accessing basic services, stable livelihoods, and an effective democratic system are all threatened. Co-authored by Roosevelt Network Program Manager Aman Banerji, our latest blog post examines a two-year, statewide organizing campaign in Tennessee that serves as a blueprint for how to challenge privatization. After uncovering a deal—supported by Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam—to outsource the management of University of Tennessee system campus facilities, students, organizers, and other community partners took a stand to ensure that public systems in higher education remain in collective hands.
What We’re Reading
Erica Garner, racial justice champion and daughter of Eric Garner, passed away on Saturday. For ELLE, Melissa Harris-Perry discusses the despair—and rage—that has risen from such a significant loss. “Just below the sorrow for this 27-year-old daughter, mother, activist, and emerging voice of a generation, there is fury against a system that is implicated in her death,” writes Harris-Perry. Outlining the burdens faced by black women in America’s broken and unequal system, this essay is a powerful tribute to a woman who fought to fix it.
What We’re Watching
The circumstances in which children learn define the trajectory of their lives. In the midst of harsh winter conditions, students in Baltimore arrived to public schools this week and were expected to learn in classrooms without heat, having to read and write in coats and gloves. Baltimore Teacher Union (BTU) President Marietta English described the situation as “utterly ridiculous and unhealthy”—and she’s right. Education is formative, and its unconscionable that students would have to endure freezing temperatures in order to learn. The opportunities kids receive should be equitable throughout every season.
We hope you had a restorative New Year, and we thank you for your continued support.