Honoring Heroes of Democracy Next Week, Fighting for Progressive Tax Policy, and Curbing the Power of Big Tech

October 6, 2017

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


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1. Tax Policy Matters

We need to talk about how the economy works and the role progressive tax policy can play in making our economy work for more people, says Roosevelt Research Director Marshall Steinbaum. This past week confirmed our worst fears: President Trump and conservatives in Congress are offering more of the trickle-down same with their tax proposals—tax breaks for America’s wealthiest, possible tax hikes on middle class families—and these policies will not make our economy stronger. In fact, Wall Street is actually “busy tallying up the big windfall it will get” from Trump’s tax plan, writes CNBC. But as our Senior Economist Lenore Palladino explains, real tax reform has the potential to rebalance economic power away from the 1%. Game on.

2. Racialized Relief Efforts

Reacting to the latest developments in Puerto Rico, Jamelle Bouie opened the week with a bold statement: Donald Trump “promised a government for white America, and he’s fulfilling it.” The administration’s failed response to Hurricane Maria reveals who gets what in this country—and the racial rules of why. With the president more focused on the island’s debt than he is on providing aid to American citizens currently in crisis, we recall how Wall Street wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico’s economy long before the hurricane in an earlier paper from Roosevelt Fellow Saqib Bhatti.

3. Curbing the Power of Big Tech

The power of internet giants like Facebook stretches beyond what Americans do in their free time—these companies have a profound influence on how our society and economy function. The threat to democracy from abroad was a dominant storyline this week, but at the heart of the issue is the corporate power tech giants have wielded to sideline more traditional media outlets and evade government regulation. “Russians took a page from corporate America,” says The Washington Post. This problem is expansive, but the solution is clear: robust antitrust policy. AlterNet outlines six ways to rein in Facebook’s immense power, and we revisit a December 2016 piece from Roosevelt’s own Marshall Steinbaum on why we can’t trust Big Tech to regulate itself.

4. Making the Connection in Digital Equity

In an op-ed for Next City, Roosevelt’s Rakeen Mabud and Marybeth Seitz-Brown examine America’s monopoly moment through a racial lens. The country’s “monopoly problem is built (in this case literally) on top of our history of structural racism; a conversation on market power is thus incomplete without accounting for the role of race,” they argue. As we see in our recent report, “Wired,” the economic and racial structures that obstruct digital equity are intertwined and can be seen throughout our economy. As a result, any effective solutions to address these barriers must account for the ways they are connected.

5. Trump Rescinds the Contraception Mandate

One of the most tangible benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the lives of millions of Americans was its mandate that employer-provided health insurance policies cover birth control methods at no cost to women. Earlier today, the Trump administration threw that all away. By scrapping this mandate, the White House made a decision that public health experts expect to negatively impact millions of women. Back in June, our Fellow Andrea Flynn explained what’s at stake in this fight. Several advocacy organizations are already planning to take on the administration in court. But sadly, thus far the most dire predictions have now proven true: This administration is hostile to the interests and economic well-being of American women.

What We’re Reading:

The New Yorker has a commanding long-read on how so-called “guardians” are manipulating the rules to take advantage of the most vulnerable—in this case: the elderly. “Guardians can sell the assets and control the lives of senior citizens without their consent—and reap a profit from it,” writes Rachel Aviv. In her astounding investigation, Aviv explains how some unscrupulous predators have used a lack of regulation and poorly crafted rules surrounding care for the elderly to target, exploit, and fleece senior citizens of their assets.

What We’re Watching:

Jimmy Kimmel is having a moment. After tackling the Graham-Cassidy bill, he’s back with a powerful response to the tragic shooting that occurred in Las Vegas—the deadliest in recent American history. “Here we are again in the aftermath of another terrible, inexplicable, shocking, and painful tragedy,” he says. Much like it is with protections for our senior citizens, a lack of rules on this life or death issue has a tragic way of becoming the worst kind of rule there is.