Repositioning Power, Re-strengthening Labor, and Doing the Right Thing

September 8, 2017

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

1. Weather the Storm

In The Guardian, Roosevelt Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz weighs in on the implications of Hurricane Harvey. “We need political action to help prevent disasters,” but the private sector has too much power in our current system, he writes. Until we take that power back, preparation for natural disasters like Harvey and Irma will continue to be over-focused on the profit motive, sidelining the public interest. It’s time to take to heart the lessons of recent natural disasters and correct our dependence on markets that can fail—“as they often do.”

2. Labor Day Reflections

Labor Day was established to honor American workers, but the rules as they are currently written do not. In a must-read article, Neil Irwin examines the fissuring of work in our country across decades and the rising inequality we see today. And in his piece on the power of labor voices in The Detroit News, Roosevelt Board member and Teamsters General President James Hoffa quotes Roosevelt Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz: “As unions fade, so too does their ability to raise wages in the broader economy.” Only by taming corporate power and strengthening workers’ rights can we celebrate labor and its movement—and build a stronger economy for us all.

3. #DefendDACA

The New York Times labeled Attorney General Jeff Sessions a “longtime foe of DACA” after he announced the program’s demise on Tuesday. Congress has only six months to put forward legislation that will protect DREAMers, and this issue seems to have already divided the Republican Party. There are many reasons to let DACA recipients stay (both economic and anecdotal), but in this fight, morality and decency matter more than the data, writes Roosevelt Executive Vice President Jeff Krehely.

4. What’s Up with the WTO?

In Politico this week, Roosevelt Fellow Todd Tucker explained how recent developments at the World Trade Organization (WTO) risk leaving American workers in a weaker position. On its surface, the WTO’s ruling to maintain tax incentives for Boeing in Washington State appears to be a win for the US. In a blog post, however, Tucker explains why “ the result may be more mixed than it appears at first glance.” When it comes to trade policy, it’s crucial to look beyond the immediate.

5. Breached

“Data of 143 million Americans—nearly half the country—exposed in Equifax hack,” wrote the Chicago Tribune. But this is also a corporate rules story. We since learned that several Equifax executives sold their stock in the company before notifying the public about the breach. And Equifax has forced consumers whose identities may have been stolen and want to enroll in their credit monitoring service to sign away their right to join a class action lawsuit. The CFPB recently moved to ban this abusive practice, but conservatives in Congress sided with big corporations and repealed this consumer protection.

What We’re Reading:

Wow. In a stunning piece for The Atlantic, Ta-Nahisi Coates calls Donald Trump the “first white president.” Reflecting on our country’s history of deeply systemic racism and painful degradation of black men and women, Coates pulls apart the rise of Trump’s presidency and its unrelenting effort to negate Barack Obama’s legacy. “Trump truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president,” he writes. We believe that the systems and perceptions in place today were not built on their own—and it’s time to take them down.

What We’re Watching:

This week, House Speaker Paul Ryan joined NYT’s Jonathan Weisman in D.C. for TimesTalk to discuss tax reform and more. There were a few flubs. Watch it here.