Stopping Soaring Stock Buybacks, Deterring Banking Deregulation, and Collaborating on Campus
March 9, 2018
By Kendra Bozarth
The Roosevelt Rundown is an email series featuring the Roosevelt Institute’s top 5 stories of the week.
1. Stopping Soaring Stock Buybacks
Stock buybacks are both a symptom and a cause of the high-profit, low-wage economy we see today. Although companies have engaged in the practice of purchasing their own stock to increase share prices for decades, there’s been a surge in buybacks since the passage of Trump’s tax law. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation this week to curb this extractive corporate behavior. The Worker Dividend Act would require companies to provide workers with comparable compensation when CEOs and shareholders benefit from stock buybacks. In a statement, Roosevelt Senior Economist and Policy Counsel Lenore Palladino applauded the proposal as an important step in a series of efforts needed to address our skewed economy.
2. The Bank Lobbyist Act
The Senate is working on a banking deregulation bill that will weaken Dodd-Frank—and Wall Street lobbyists are beaming. In her latest op-ed, Roosevelt Program Director Katy Milani explains why weakening the rules put in place after the 2008 financial crisis will “undermine the important strides regulators and policymakers made to build a productive—not extractive and predatory—engine of economic growth.” For Marketplace, Milani emphasizes why less oversight of big banks is a step in the wrong direction—for consumers and the economy. With 12 Democratic sponsors (plus 12 Republicans), thus far, Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal asks in NYT: “Why Are Democrats Helping Trump Dismantle Dodd-Frank?”
3. A 21st Century Economic Bills of Rights
In 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed amending the Constitution in order to ensure and protect fundamental economic rights for Americans. Sandy Darity, Darrick Hamilton, and Mark Paul, Fellows at the Roosevelt Institute, are in The American Prospect this week with an adaptation of FDR’s plan for the 21st century. Their forward-thinking amendments include the right to sound banking and financial services and the right to a meaningful endowment of resources as a birthright. “It’s time to think big,” the three economists explain. “The rules that govern our economy are working best for far too few, at the expense of far too many.”
4. Collaboration on Campus
The University of Michigan (UM) will soon launch the Center for Social Solutions, a new organization committed to building 21st century solutions to social issues, including diversity and race. The Center will work to foster interdisciplinary collaboration between students and faculty. Co-president of the Roosevelt Network chapter at UM, Yosef Gross, supports the Center and its mission to bolster student involvement on campus. “I think it’s great that there’s going to be institutional support for students working on these issues,” he said. Roosevelt Network students can hopefully utilize the Center to build civic participation and better promote long-term policy change.
5. Big Tech: A Potential Target of the FTC
As the nomination process for commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues, all four nominees have signalled a willingness to examine the power mega-corporations in the tech industry hold over consumers and the economy. In “Look Out, Big Tech: FTC Nominees Eye Silicon Valley for Antitrust Regulation,” CIO Dive profiles the four nominees, including Roosevelt Visiting Fellow Rohit Chopra. As Roosevelt Vice President of Research and Policy Nell Abernathy recently explained, technology today can reinforce market power and the anti-competitive behaviors that prevent us from having a level economic playing field. We’re encouraged by the potential for agency-level scrutiny of tech giants.
What We’re Reading
The statewide teachers strike in West Virginia is an extraordinary lesson on the power of collective action. In “What the Teachers Won,” Jacobin’s Eric Blanc interviews two of the teachers about what happened and what comes next. “If you have enough working people who are pushed to the breaking point, and who are angry about a specific grievance, then it’s the duty of activists to let them know that they deserve better—and that their lives can get better if they take action on that issue,” said Emily Comer. With reports that teachers in Oklahoma are ready to follow suit, it’s clear that American workers are a force with real political power.
Join the Roosevelt Institute on Wednesday, March 28th at 5:30 PM for a “Politics at Work” event at our New York City office. Roosevelt Fellow K. Sabeel Rahman and Roosevelt Network alum and Columbia University assistant professor Alexander Hertel-Fernandez will lead a discussion on the relationship between economic inequality, market concentration, and corporate political power. Roosevelt Network Director Nehemiah Rolle will also discuss the need for a new generation of progressive policy researchers and advocates. Join this essential discussion and RSVP here.