The Tax Fight Continues, the #DoddFrankRollback, and the Real Price of Corporate Power

December 8, 2017

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

1. The Tax Fight Continues

Roosevelt fellows and staff have a lot to say on the disastrous consequences of the deeply unpopular tax overhaul Republicans are jamming through Congress. On Democracy Now!, Roosevelt Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz explains how the bill—riddled with loopholes and gimmicks—is not real reform and will deepen economic inequality. Fellow Mike Konczal joined The Weeds to discuss how the GOP is weaponizing the tax code by writing policy that serves only the very few—and will be paid for by jeopardizing core programs like Medicaid. And our Vice President of Research and Policy, Nell Abernathy, emphasizes that the tax plan is not supported by facts and will supercharge the worse trends in our economy, including higher payouts for corporate shareholders at the expense of new jobs and higher wages for workers. “This has no good economics behind it,” she says.

2. Details Matter

Trump’s tax plan hasn’t crossed the finish line yet. And the rushed legislative process—as highlighted by Roosevelt Fellow Michael Linden—that produced both the House and Senate bills may be the GOP’s downfall. From a regressive elimination of the estate tax in the House version to a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate in the Senate plan, Republicans have a lot of loose ends to tie up. In “The Republican Tax Scam Isn’t Quite a Done Deal,” The New Yorker’s John Cassidy explains why this hastiness will likely delay consensus on the final tax package. “And, in tax policy, the devil is almost always in the details,” he writes.

3. An Exclusive Economy

The employment divide between Black and White Americans is at an all-time low. But the volatility of the labor market, which hurts Black Americans more, means that the progress made is likely unstable. In Bloomberg, Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong reveals why disparities in economic opportunity are rooted in the long-standing and deeply racialized rules of our economy and society. As Wong explains, disproportionate outcomes have “more to do with the historical exclusions from education, the housing market, the labor market and ultimately capital acquisition that African-Americans have had relative to whites.”

4. The #DoddFrankRollback

Banks play an outsized role in our economy. Unfortunately, the Senate Banking Committee approved a bill on Tuesday that would weaken the rules that hold the financial sector accountable. On our blog, Roosevelt Vice President of Advocacy and Policy Steph Sterling explains why the push to roll back much-needed financial reforms is not only bad policy—it’s also bad politics. On its face, the #DoddFrankRollback is a deal worth opposing. An equally important point for policymakers to consider: The bill is exactly the opposite of what most Americans want and need.

5. The Real Price of Corporate Power

On Wednesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) gave a powerful speech warning that anti-competitive market power “also translates into concentrated political power—the kind of power that can capture our government.” By prioritizing self-interest over the greater good of the public, corporate power hurts workers, wages, and our economy. In The Washington Post, Roosevelt’s Felicia Wong explains why this concentration of economic power is also a threat to our democracy. We’re seeing the impact of economic and political concentration in the tax debate, with the interests of the super-rich superseding the majority. Those concerned about the end of our democracy in the age of Trump must gather the political will to fight back against the power of huge corporations.

What We’re Reading:

For unleashing a wave of solidarity across our nation and the world, TIME Magazine named the “silence breakers” of the #MeToo movement the 2017 Person of the Year. “This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it…” From CEOs to United States senators, those in power are being held accountable for their abusive actions. And when victims of all backgrounds no longer have to silently endure, justice emerges much more swiftly.

What We’re Watching:

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has one word to describe the GOP tax plan: criminal. Last Friday, as amendments were being handwritten in the margins of the Senate bill, Sen. Sanders took to the chamber’s floor. “This legislation will go down in history as one of the worst, most unfair pieces of legislation ever passed,” he said.