The Roosevelt Rundown is an email series featuring the Roosevelt Institute’s top 5 stories of the week.
1. Rebuilding a Broken Link
For The Capital Times, Roosevelt Vice President of Research and Policy Nell Abernathy and Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI) examine the fissured link between corporate profits and worker prosperity. To help solve the economic puzzle of record-high corporate profits and stagnant wages, Abernathy and Pocan elevate the story of mega mergers in America’s heartland. Outsized corporate power is driving economic inequality in our country, but thankfully this is a problem federal policymakers have tackled before. By enacting progressive tax reform and boosting antitrust policy, we can again curb corporate power and strengthen opportunity for working Americans. “Our economy—and the well-being of our country—demands it,” they write.
2. The Tax Cuts for Shareholders Act
In a new blog post, Roosevelt Senior Economist and Policy Counsel Lenore Palladino shows why Trump’s tax law is designed to benefit company shareholders—not workers. Corporate stock buybacks—when companies spend corporate cash to raise share prices by buying back their own stock—have skyrocketed since the GOP tax bill made its way through Congress and are now double what they were in January and February of 2017. There is a lot of money moving out to shareholders and corporate executives, but not much trickling down to workers. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Palladino argues, would be more aptly named the “Tax Cuts for Shareholders” Act.
3. The Hidden Rules of Democratic Participation
As outlined by political commentator Ari Berman earlier this year, there are implicit and explicit rules in America today that suppress voters’ voices—especially those of the most marginalized. “There are millions of people whose votes effectively don’t count,” he wrote. Earlier today, Roosevelt Fellows Andrea Flynn and Dorian Warren participated in a Twitter chat on the hidden rules of democratic participation, along with Keesha Gaskins, Director for the Democratic Practice program at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Johns Hopkins University professor Vesla Weaver. In our work to build social and economic justice for all, we must rewrite the voting rules that perpetuate inequities and leave too many Americans voiceless.
4. Nationalize Steel
Last week, the Commerce Department “set off an uproar in the trade world” when it recommended that the Trump administration impose tariffs, or taxes, on steel imports to help save the industry. For Politico, Roosevelt Fellow Todd Tucker has a better solution: “If Trump really wants to save American steel, he’d nationalize it,” he says. The Trump administration’s proposal to use trade policy to help stabilize the steel industry is a short-term solution that will only complicate the industry and escalate tensions abroad. Moving from private to government-controlled ownership, Tucker argues, might sound like an extreme option, but it’s one that could offer a lasting fix. “If Trump is committed to turning around the steel industry, nationalization is his best option.”
5. America’s Young Leaders
On Wednesday night, the Roosevelt Network chapter at the University of Michigan hosted an event with Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor to discuss continued collaboration between the City and local community. Examining crucial issues that Network students have been working to tackle over the years—including affordable housing, climate change, and gun control—the conversation highlighted “how local and state policy incubates change on a larger, nationwide scale.” This type of student-led event embodies what we should heed and empower more: young people and their demands for a better country. From restoring voting rights to Florida’s formerly incarcerated to curbing corporate power in Tennessee, the Roosevelt Network helps the next generation of leaders advocate for their communities and society at large.
What We’re Reading
For The New York Times, Eduardo Porter outlines what will happen when the next recession hits: The U.S. government will be unprepared to reverse it and our nation’s weakened safety net won’t be there to catch the most vulnerable Americans. “Not only does the government have precious few tools at its disposal to combat a downturn. By slashing taxes while increasing spending, President Trump and his allies in Congress have further boxed the economy into a corner, reducing the space for emergency government action were it to be needed,” he writes. We need more bigger and better policy ideas—like a federal jobs guarantee—today to help us solve the major problems of tomorrow.
What We’re Watching
On Thursday, CNN hosted a town hall with “students-turned-gun-control advocates”—the survivors of last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The high school students, including Emma González, and community members pointedly confronted congressional policymakers from Florida and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch. We applaud these young leaders as they take control of such a pivotal debate today.