Trump’s Tax Scam, Challenging Corporate Concentration, and an Attack on the Fourth Estate

November 3, 2017

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

1. Trump’s Tax Scam

After years of making big promises, Republicans released their tax plan on Thursday. In short, it gives tax cuts to billionaires and corporations. This proposal is disastrous, but it’s not new. As Roosevelt’s Marshall Steinbaum explains in The Intercept“We have run a four-decade-long experiment in reducing effective marginal tax rates on the rich, both in the individual and corporate tax systems, and it has definitely failed to fuel economic growth.” And our Fellow Michael Linden was in The Atlantic detailing how, at its core, the plan is a massive giveaway to the richest Americans—one that leaves working people left in the dust. Americans cannot afford more of the same failed strategies that have allowed the 1 percent to extract economic power from the rest of us.

2. Challenging Corporation Concentration

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) is challenging federal officials to rebuild worker power. In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, Sen. Booker presses the agencies on lax antitrust regulation, calling attention to the rise of corporate power in the labor market and the ways this has harmed workers and contributed to stagnating wages. “Booker believes that existing antitrust law and institutions are being underutilized as tools to fight economic concentration,” writes Matthew Yglesias in Vox. Antitrust enforcement can reduce such concentration and, in turn, give workers more bargaining power and leverage in the labor market, as Sen. Booker emphasizes.

3. The Democrats and Wall Street

For decades, rules that shape the financial sector have allowed firms to kill their competition and prioritize short-term gains over long-term growth and investment—behavior that has enriched a handful of shareholders at the expense of broader, shared prosperity. Roosevelt’s Nellie Abernathy penned a letter to the editor this week for The New York Times on why it’s crucial that Democrats take on Wall Street and rein in their financial power. By ensuring that finance “serves to create value, not extract a higher toll from real business,” progressives can stand on a platform that will grow jobs, businesses, and the economy.

4. Trump Defrauds Americans

As we wrote last week, Congress handed a major win to Wall Street by overturning a set of consumer protections in the finance industry. Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal sat down with Left, Right & Center to explain why—despite the spin—last week’s outcome disempowers Americans; you don’t hurt consumers by giving them access to the courts, he says. In The Nation, Konczal underscores his concerns by explaining how economic plans from the Trump administration, such as the recent move by Congress, are cheating Americans. “Trump campaigned on ‘draining the swamp’ … but he’s only adding to the muck,” he writes.

5. Attack on Worker Power and the Fourth Estate

News outlets DNAinfo and Gothamist were shut down yesterday by billionaire owner Joe Ricketts just a week after newsroom staffers voted to unionize. Ricketts cited constrained finances for his decision, but the move—seemingly political—shocked many, leaving countless journalists deeply concerned about the state of independent media. Ricketts has previously stated his opposition to unions, but Gothamist reporter Scott Heins says, “the union didn’t kill DNAinfo and Gothamist, Joe Ricketts made the decision to kill Gothamist and DNAinfo.” The attack on workers’ rights and the fourth estate—an institution responsible for holding those in power accountable—is an attack on democracy.

What We’re Reading:

Robert Draper has an insightful piece in The New York Times Magazine this week on “the Democratic Party’s chronic difficulty explaining just what it stands for.” As Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong explains, the Left’s platform is lacking a strong economic argument—one that accounts for our country’s racialized past. To stand with progressive leaders, Americans need real, tangible solutions that tackle the big picture.

What We’re Watching:

Following the Paul Manafort indictment, which includes charges of tax evasion, Chris Hayes is all in on demanding that the president release his tax returns. “We know almost nothing about Donald Trump’s finances,” he says. Facing the largest overhaul of the tax code in decades, Americans deserve to know how Trump stands to benefit from his own proposal.