Building on a Broken Tax Code, Winners and Losers in the Tax Debate, and the Wrong Direction for Wall Street

November 17, 2017

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

1. Building on a Broken Tax Code

Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal was in Vox this week illustrating the disastrous consequences of Trump’s efforts to overhaul the tax code. Both the House and Senate plans take “the worst trends in the American economy—and hit the accelerator,” he says. The conservative tax “reform” framework is designed to shift the rules of the economy even further “toward capital and away from labor,” says Konczal, supercharging failed tax policy that has stalled economic growth in the U.S. for the last 40 years. Without any hearings or public input, House Republicans passed their bill Thursday. Our current tax system enables the 1% to “cheat their way out of contributing to the common good.” Both plans in Congress will exacerbate this fundamental flaw and severely hinder economic growth.

2. Winners and Losers in the Tax Debate

There are clear winners and losers in the tax debate. Both congressional bills will dismantle the safety net. Senate Republicans are including tax breaks for private jetsand they want to pay for permanent corporate tax cuts by phasing out tax relief for the middle class. From the ACA mandate repeal that would impact millions to proposals that would worsen already-discriminatory rules against black America, the disproportionate share of wealth and power in our country will become much greater if either proposal becomes law. The economy isn’t working for the majority of Americans, and privileging corporations and the very rich even more will ensure it never will.

3. The Wrong Direction for Wall Street

In another example of conservatives prioritizing policies that benefit corporations and the wealthy few over consumers and working Americans, Congress is working to reverse protections against Wall Street abuse. In “A Deal Worth Opposing,” Roosevelt’s Mike Konczal and Katy Milani explain how any effort to repeal or undermine key parts of Dodd-Frank—like the proposal introduced this week to weaken oversight—is a threat to consumers and financial stability. The deal isn’t major on its own, but as Konczal and Milani explain, it does point financial “reform” in the wrong direction—and many policymakers and federal officials want to go further down this path.

4. Clearing the Way for Corporate Concentration

The fight against corporate consolidation in the media took a major hit this week. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reversed “a decades-old rule aimed at preventing any individual or company from having too much power,” writes Cecilia Kang. By rolling back the media cross-ownership ban, the Republican-led FCC is giving the green light for those with the most wealth and power to own a greater share of stations within a market. In an era of curbed regulation, investigations into stories like “Billion-Dollar Landlords”—produced in partnership with local networks across the country—may never surface if we diminish the media’s ability to remain objective and hold powerful interests accountable.

5. Youth-Powered Movements

From housing policy in New York City to disinformation in the Trump era, the Roosevelt Institute’s student network was in the news this week for its work on many of our nation’s most pressing issues. Roosevelter Jacob Bezner, a sophomore at Binghamton University, was featured in Pipe Dream for his efforts to strengthen the environmental justice movement by “bridg[ing] the gap between students and the Binghamton community.” Across the country, network students continue to channel their energy into effective policy change.

What We’re Reading:

The “resistance” goes beyond marches and protests. For The New York Times Magazine, Gideon Lewis-Kraus describes how the relentless rejection of Trump was channeled into a wave of on-the-ground campaign support that fueled crucial progressive wins in Virginia—and beyond—on Election Day. In the continued fight ahead, 2017 shows that there is great power in using our outrage to organize.

What We’re Watching:

After 40 years of failed tax policy, even CEOs admit that trickle-down doesn’t work. Chief economic advisor to the president Gary Cohn was disappointed on Tuesday after attendees of the WSJ’s CEO Council conference indicated they would not invest additional profits from corporate tax cuts into productive, shared growth. Watch as a group of key beneficiaries of Trump’s tax plan refute the administration’s bogus claims.


This year marks the 15th anniversary of Globalization and Its Discontents, the landmark book from Roosevelt Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz, which was recently reissued with new material from W.W. Norton. Join Harper’s Magazine and Book Culture on Columbus on Wednesday, November 29 at 7 PM for a conversation with Professor Stiglitz on anti-globalization in the era of Trump. Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong will provide opening remarks. Tickets are available here.