Out of Hiding, Building Community, and Putting Life Over Profit

September 15, 2017

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

1. Hidden Rules

Born out of our Rewriting the Racial Rules report, the Roosevelt Institute and Cambridge University Press released a new book this week: The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy. Now more than ever, it is crucial to expose the very real (often hidden) set of rules that perpetuate racial inequities, so we can truly begin to move forward as a country. The racial rules, as we define them, can be seen in the story of Michelle Jones, a formerly incarcerated scholar whose acceptance to Harvard was rescinded after concerns about her past surfaced. In a single tweet, Clint Smith provides an excellent summation: “Harvard’s decision to revoke Michelle Jones’ acceptance demonstrates how some only support equality when it lies in the realm of the abstract.” Order your copy of Hidden Rules here.

2. Freedom and Faith

On the anniversary of September 11thThe Commercial Appeal reflected on FDR’s Four Freedoms as principles worth honoring every day. A profile on Dr. Bashar A. Shala and Reverend Dr. Steve Stone, the article serves as an important reminder that the values we hold in common are much stronger than the differences that set us apart. Dr. Shala and Rev. Dr. Stone are this year’s recipients of Roosevelt’s Freedom of Worship Medal, in honor of their efforts to bring different religious communities together as one people in this time of division and rancor. Join us on October 10th in celebrating their courageous work and commitment to community.

3. A Tale of Two Countries

At first glance, the Census Bureau’s annual report is promising. Middle-class incomes are the highest they’ve ever been, and because of the ACA, households are healthier. However, inequality—both economic and racial—holds strong. To address barriers to opportunity, we have to not only tell the whole story but also think big. On Wednesday, Ben Schiller revisited our report on a universal basic income. Though we don’t view UBI as a cure-all, the debate about it allows us to have a bigger conversation about our ability to truly grow our economy for everyone. What we lack right now is the political will.

4. Don’t Believe the Hype

Axios made one thing clear this week: Trump isn’t trying to do bipartisan tax reform. Despite dinners and discussions with Democrats, the Trump administration has no intention of compromising on its plan to “unleash America’s economic potential” with irresponsible, unnecessary tax cuts for corporations. The administration’s approach may look different than earlier legislative pushes, but on the substance, these tax proposals are more of the same trickle-down nonsense. Roosevelt Vice President for Advocacy and Policy Steph Sterling wrote on the shift that must happen if Democrats want to win the tax reform battle and the larger political war.

5. Medicare for All

“I watched my patients die of poverty for 40 years. It’s time for single-payer,” wrote David A. Ansell, author of The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills, in the Washington Post this week. Senator Bernie Sanders and now 16 Democratic co-sponsors agree. Sanders released the latest version of his Medicare for All bill on Wednesday, calling for the US to “join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee comprehensive health care.” As Republicans make another big push to repeal the ACA, Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal provides his take on what’s possible.

What We’re Reading:

After surviving Hurricane Irma, eight nursing home residents passed away this week following the loss of power and air conditioning. In 2006, the Florida state legislature tried to prevent this sort of tragedy with a bill that would have required backup generators in such facilities. But corporate lobbyists representing the nursing home industry teamed up with conservative elected officials to kill this commonsense regulation. “That went nowhere as the powerful long-term care industry objected to the price tag,” wrote the Miami Herald. This story out of Hollywood Hills is a painful but powerful reminder that when corporations hold too much power, profit becomes more valuable than life.

What We’re Watching:

What happened? This week, Hillary Clinton sat down with Vox’s Ezra Klein to tell the world what she really thinks about the 2016 election. Most notably, she discusses the idea that she almost ran on, Alaska for America—a universal basic income campaign that would have provided voters with a clear picture of a better economy could look like. Klein described the interview as, “Clinton unleashed.” Watch it here.


On Tuesday, September 19, the Big Ideas Breakfast is back. Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong will host Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro at our New York office for a discussion of the congresswoman’s new book, The Least Among Us, as well as the consequences of a weakened social safety net. Breakfast begins at 7:30 AM. Learn more and RSVP here.