A Lasting Agenda for Progressives, Building Inclusive Economic Prosperity, and FDR’s Last 100 Days

By Kendra Bozarth |

The Roosevelt Rundown is an email series featuring the Roosevelt Institute’s top 5 stories of the week.


1. Going Beyond 2018

Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong joined Marketplace Morning Report this week to discuss why it’s imperative that Democrats embrace progressive economic reform and build a lasting agenda that goes beyond any one election cycle. To push forward issues that are important to progressives (and the public good), we need a bold platform that not only explains what’s hurting our economy but also reshapes our worldview regarding how the economy works and who it benefits. To “truly connect with the American voter, Democrats [and] politicians are going to have to connect this problem of corporate power to kitchen table issues—to jobs, to wages, to people’s daily economic lives.” This is a difficult challenge, but is absolutely necessary if we intend to uphold an ambitious vision for a better future.

2. How Corporations Build Exclusive Prosperity

Over the last 40 years, the ability of workers to bargain for a greater share of a firm’s profits has eroded. In her latest paper, Roosevelt Senior Economist and Policy Counsel Lenore Palladino explores how corporate financialization drives economic inequality in the U.S. by limiting worker power and detering shared economic growth. On the blog, Roosevelt Program Director Katy Milani connects the misguided corporate behavior we see today with Trump’s tax law. “Instead of cutting taxes for corporations—a policy which largely benefits wealthy shareholders—we need lawmakers to advance policies that discourage unproductive firm behavior that undermines broad-based and inclusive growth,” she explains.  

3. Making Out Like a Bandit

For The Nation, Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal provides “3 Reasons Why Republicans Will Let the Rich Abuse the Tax Code.” Trump’s tax law is riddled with loopholes that the super-rich and their accountants will exploit. And because 1) the tax code is based on “incoherent” theory, 2) the IRS is deeply underfunded and understaffed, and 3) Republicans can easily manipulate any data signalling the bill’s failure, the game is rigged in favor of the few. “People find the runaway incomes at the very top to be unfair. But what people hate even more is the idea of someone getting away with something,” said Konczal. “Unfortunately for us all, this tax code will only lead to more of both types of injustice.”

4. A Life and Loss that Demands an Inclusive Progressive Agenda

Erica Garner spent the last three years of her life fighting the very racism that led to her father’s death—and ultimately her own. For The Progressive, Roosevelt Fellow Andrea Flynn details the “vast web of racial rules” that shape the deep inequalities that black Americans face today. “Progressive policymakers must … rewrite these rules with an agenda that includes universal health care, divestment from a corrupt and discriminatory criminal justice system, an expansion of voting rights, and a host of economic reforms,” Flynn writes. Erica Garner was bold in her fight against injustice. Progressives should follow her lead.

5. FDR’s Last 100 Days

The Washington Post’s James Hill describes The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace as “a remarkably well-researched book on the president that Americans consistently rank among the greatest.” Written by Roosevelt Fellow David B. Woolner, The Last 100 Days reveals “how an active FDR rose above his frailty late in his presidency.” Towards the end of his life, President Franklin D. Roosevelt not only focused on ending the second World War, but he also worked to build lasting peace once the conflict was over. As Hill notes, Woolner’s book is an important contribution to our understanding of FDR’s commitment and strength and a must-read in these tumultuous times.

6. What We’re Reading

The Roosevelt Institute is mourning the loss of Paul Booth, a key leader in the labor movement and a dear friend to the organization, who passed away on Wednesday. “He was, of course, a hero to the entire movement, but also such a kind and generous and witty soul, who lived a meaningful, rich life,” said Roosevelt’s Felicia Wong. This week, we’re reading this wonderful tribute to Paul in The American Prospect.

What We’re Watching

After Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen feigned amnesia regarding Trump’s most recent racism, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) called her complicit in the injustice. “The commander in chief in an Oval Office meeting referring to people from African countries and Haitians with the most vile and vulgar language, that language festers. When ignorance and bigotry is allied with power it is a dangerous force in our country,” Booker said. Watch the senator’s rousing response here.