Better Ways for Tax Reform, the 21st Century Economy, and a Real Monopoly Moment

September 1, 2017

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

1. An Economy Held Back

Modern conservatism was built on cutting taxes, and it’s time to acknowledge that this is a failed approach, writes Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong in USA Today. Trickle-down policies have held our economy back for decades, and on Wednesday, Trump pledged more of the same. If tax “reform” equals corporate tax cuts, the economy won’t grow. And despite the president’s promises to help everyday Americans, it’s clear that the only taxpayers who will win again under his proposal are those at the very top.

2. Thinking Big About the Social Safety Net

This week, we released a new paper and analysis with our colleagues at the Levy Institute that tests the macroeconomic effects of a universal basic income, or UBI. In Vox, Dylan Matthews explains what we found, and CNBC looks at what this could mean for the 21st century economy. The paper takes a major step forward in answering crucial questions, but it’s our position that we still have a lot to learn about UBI, cash assistance, and improving the social safety net. We hope this paper contributes to the broader ongoing conversation about economic growth and inequality.

3. Corporate Power on Display

Market power was in the news in a big way this week, after the Open Markets team at New America was shut down, apparently due to concerns that Google was not pleased with the team’s recent statement supporting the EU’s penalty against the tech giant. (Google is a big donor to New America.)Though shocking, “it is also not surprising given the degree of market power these companies have,” said Roosevelt Research Director and Fellow Marshall Steinbaum in The Guardian. This development reinforces our concerns about monopoly power and the crucial need for robust antitrust policy.

4. Split on NAFTA

The Trump administration has offered a plan to modify how NAFTA settles trade disputes—a proposal that is blurring party lines, as well as international relations. Roosevelt Fellow Todd Tucker weighed in on the issue in the Washington Examiner and Law360. “The ‘opt in’ proposal is potentially a clever move, in that it splits both the opposition to and the advocates for ISDS,” he said. The outcome of the proposal could determine who stays and who goes in any rewriting of the trade agreement.

5. The Real Price of the Amazon-Whole Foods Merger

On the surface, Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods seems like a great deal for consumers—lower prices for a variety of popular items, even avocados. What we’re really seeing, as stated in Slate, is just how “shortsighted antitrust regulation has become.” This type of predatory growth threatens economic equity and natural competition. Because authorities failed to block Amazon’s merger with Whole Foods, everyday Americans will eventually pay the price.

What We’re Reading:

All eyes were on Houston this week as Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast. Vox’s Samantha Montano calls on President Trump for his leadership in response to the catastrophe—not only in the coming weeks but also over the course of what will be months (and years) of recovery. In The Atlantic, Peter Brannen tackles climate change as he looks at what’s to come after Hurricane Harvey. Spoiler: The atmosphere is getting weird.

What We’re Watching:

On Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and Juan González discuss the triple threat immigrants in Houston are facing following one natural and two man-made disasters. “As the fallout from Hurricane Harvey continues, a potential public safety crisis has emerged affecting Houston’s nearly 600,000 undocumented immigrants.”