Truth and Lies on Tax Reform, Making the Fed Better, Defending the CFPB

December 1, 2017

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

1. What’s really at stake in the tax fight

Conservatives in Congress say their tax push is about making our economy stronger. But even a quick glance reveals they are really trying to make corporations even more powerful and shred what’s left of the New Deal. This piece in the New York Times, which quotes our Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz, details the ways this tax plan will gut programs like Social Security and Medicare along with funding for education and infrastructure–all while ensuring the rich get richer. And this report in Bloomberg shows how CEOs plan to use any tax cuts to benefit themselves and their friends instead of hiring more workers or paying their current employees better wages. In short, this tax plan is the culmination of corporations and the mega-rich translating outsized economic power into political power.

2. The Roosevelt Institute weighs in

While it looks like Senate Republicans have the votes needed to pass tax reform, progressives across the country and at the Roosevelt Institute are not going down without a fight. Our Vice President Nell Abernathy wrote for In These Times about how this plan will take the most harmful dynamics in our economy and make them even worse. Roosevelt Fellow Michael Lindenwas in The New Yorker talking about the ways this plan will hurt middle class families. And Eric Bernstein, a Program Manager at Roosevelt, joined Charles Ellison on Philadelphia’s WURD radio to discuss the risks this plan poses to higher education and the broader economy.

3. The Federal Reserve can do better

With Congress dominated by special interests and moving to further rig our economy in favor of the powerful via tax policy, it can seem like Americans should expect very little from the federal government when it comes to positive economic leadership. But the Federal Reserve is an institution that could and should be doing much more to build a broadly prosperous economy. Roosevelt Fellows Mike Konczal and JW Mason are out with a new report outlining policies and approaches the Fed could adopt to build a healthier, stronger economy for us all. Their report is already being covered in the press, with this coverage in the Financial Times.

4. Muzzling the Wall Street watchdog

Since its creation in 2010, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has recovered more than $12 billion for consumers defrauded by financial companies. So naturally, the Trump administration and its Goldman Sachs cabinet want to shut it down. In a move earlier this week that angered consumer advocates, the White House installed former Tea Party congressman Mick Mulvaney to run the CFPB. Our Fellow Mike Konczal was featured in Washington Post coverage of why the CFPB’s independence and mission matter, and how these recent changes will likely harm Americans and our economy in the years to come.

5. Race and trickle down

Andrea Flynn, a Fellow at Roosevelt and a co-author of the book The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy, joined the podcast This is Hell! last week to discuss the intersections of long-standing and entrenched racial disparities, general economic inequality and the current conservative push to force a trickle down tax policy on America. Once again, she explained how a “colorblind” approach to confronting economic inequality will always fail and how any vision that might make our economy better will need to account for the ways racism and white supremacy have determined the fates of millions of Americans.

What We’re Reading:

Hurricane season is over but millions of Americans in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are still struggling to rebuild. Every time a natural disaster strikes, special interests that aim to privatize key public services and sell off public goods swoop in. Aman Banerji, Program Manager at the Roosevelt network, recently wrote an op-ed for The Guardian US on how progressives should respond by using disaster relief to rebuild a society that is more just and sustainable than the one that came before it.

What We’re Watching:

The #MeToo movement is not slowing down, with longtime NBC anchor Matt Lauer fired this week for inappropriate sexual conduct. In the early 1990s, Anita Hill became a household name when she came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, who President George H. W. Bush had nominated to the United States Supreme Court. Hill joined Meet the Press last Sunday to share her decades of perspective working on this issue. She cautioned against erasing the stories of women who are not in white collar professions and emphasized how any movement that will truly empower women must account for the specific experiences of poor women and women of color.