#MarketPowerRising, the Digital Divide & ‘No New Taxes’

September 29, 2017

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

1. #MarketPowerRising

We kicked off the week with our Market Power Monday event in D.C., co-hosted by our partners at the George Washington Institute for Public Policy. Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joe Stiglitz delivered a powerful keynote address, where he called for a complete revamping of antitrust policy and enforcement. Politico’s Morning Tech newsletter provided a rundown on the day, highlighting FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny’s agreement that tech companies “do have a lot of power.” Recently, Daniel Kishi called for a conservative anti-monopoly movement in The American Conservative.

2. Closing the Digital Divide

In today’s economy, internet access is essential. But a staggering 55 million Americans do not have high-speed internet at home. In “Wired: Connecting Equity to a Universal Broadband Strategy,” a joint report with The New School, Roosevelt’s Rakeen Mabud and Marybeth Seitz-Brown examine the toxic combination of racial and economic exclusions in telecoms that has led to shocking disparities in internet access. Only by undoing both of these structural, racialized barriers can we get to a place where all Americans can participate and thrive in our economy with help from our country’s “fourth utility.”

3. Why We Need Tax Reform

Republicans unveiled a blueprint for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts this week, a proposal they say will pay for itself in economic growth. (Spoiler alert: it won’t.) A new poll from ABC News and the Washington Post shows that most Americans aren’t buying it, and that they also understand what’s wrong with the current system. Roosevelt Fellow Michael Linden was in the Los Angeles Times explaining how this latest plan is just additional tax cuts for the wealthy. And in a new blog post, Roosevelt Vice President of Advocacy and Policy Steph Sterling outlines why the tax code needs reform—just not in the way Trump and Congressional Republicans are selling it. Real, progressive tax reform can strengthen the economy, she says; more giveaways to the 1% (while 1 in 4 households pay more in taxes), which Republicans promoted this week, will do the opposite.

4. Corporate America’s Shift

Roosevelt Senior Economist and Policy Counsel Lenore Palladino addresses corporate power in her latest blog post. The shift in corporate America from productive to “financialized” profit-making is hurting jobs, wages, and economic equality, she writes. Rachel Abrams highlights a specific way corporate power plays out in fast food industry, with an examination of worker mobility and stagnant wage growth. Until we rein in corporate power, US labor market challenges and the sluggish wages that come with them will continue.

5. Trump on Trade

This week it was announced that the US was placing punitive tariffs on Bombardier, a Canadian airplane maker. In “Boeing! Bombardier!! Bears!!!” Roosevelt Fellow Todd Tucker reviews the coverage and explains how, despite the headlines, this was not exactly a White House decision. No good guys or bad guys here when it comes to trade, he says. “If you like free trade, you’ll probably need to make peace with trade remedies.” Touching on the themes that Tucker explored, the NYT takes a broader look at the confusion that prevails in the media’s coverage of trade policy. But pushing Trump to be more Trumpian? That’s risky.

What We’re Reading:

Over a million Americans are still struggling with access to food, drinkable water, and medicine in Puerto Rico following two hurricanes earlier this month. Just this morning President Trump tweeted: “…The fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!” For years, austerity policies and money-hungry hedge funds have eviscerated Puerto Rico’s economy, leaving the island ill-prepared for a natural disaster like the direct hit it took from Hurricane Maria. This week, we look back to 2015 with “Inside the Billion-Dollar Battle for Puerto Rico’s Future” from the NYT. This piece shows what happens when the economically powerful and self-interested exercise their political muscle. Not surprisingly, people suffer for the sake of profits.

What We’re Watching:

Yes! On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver covered corporate consolidation. “How did they let that happen?” he asks. In just 20 minutes, it’s easy to understand why reform is needed—and fast.


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