Ending Inequality, Equal Pay Day, and Challenging Facebook

April 13, 2018

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

1. Ending Inequality

For The Washington Post, political reporter Jeff Stein reviews 12 ideas—some progressive, and some … not so much—to foster economic equality in the United States. The proposal from Roosevelt Fellow Darrick Hamilton and Senior Fellow Sandy Darity to give every newborn child a “baby bond,” or a trust account established at birth and based on socioeconomic status, is cited. Lifting the call to “pick up the antitrust stick and wield it,” Stein also features Roosevelt Research Director Marshall Steinbaum for his work to address the rise of market power. The economy should work for everyone, and these ideas can help us move toward that reality.

2. Equal Pay Day

Tuesday, April 10th, was Equal Pay Day, which marks how far into 2018 women would’ve had to work to earn the same amount as men did in 2017 alone. As Vox noted, Equal Pay Day is not true for all women. Because women of color have to overcome two economic barriers—the gender wage gap and the racial wealth gap—their Equal Pay Day comes much later in the year. On the Insight Center for Community Economic Development’s Hidden Truths podcast, Roosevelt Fellow Andrea Flynn discusses the rules that hold women back and the need for far-reaching policy change. On Twitter, Flynn reminds us that the economic disparities we see today are not inevitable.

3. Challenging Facebook

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress this week in response to the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Zuckerberg was unable to answer one crucial question: Is Facebook a monopoly? Roosevelt Research Director and market power expert Marshall Steinbaum says yes: “…the fact that he couldn’t name his competitors spoke volumes: Facebook controls the network over which information is proliferated, and it decides who sees what—always to its own benefit. That is a textbook monopolist and it is a company that in its current form cannot be allowed to exist.” In an official statement, Steinbaum outlined why policymakers should demand transparency from tech giants like Facebook.

4. Trump’s Trade Confusion

For Project SyndicateRoosevelt Chief Economist Joseph E. Stiglitz dives into trade and explains how President Trump is “keeping with his record of responding to nonexistent problems.” From the administration’s tariffs on China to its rejection of the World Trade Organization (WTO) altogether, which Trump recently called a “disaster,” the U.S. is weakening its position as a global leader dedicated to productive multilateralism—the pursuit of a common goal among allied nations. As Stiglitz explains, the “danger of the Trump era is that while the world watches the US president’s Twitter feed and tries not to be pushed off one cliff or another … real and difficult challenges are going unaddressed.”

5. For the Greater Good

For Harvard Law Review, Roosevelt Fellow K. Sabeel Rahman reviews Constitutional Coup: Privatization’s Threat to the American Republic, a new book from UCLA law professor Jon D. Michaels. Looking beyond deregulation, Rahman discusses the efforts of President Trump today—and of those in power before him—to privatize and delegitimize the federal government. “The new [a]dministration has in its first year made good on attempts to gut the budget and staff of key agencies and implement regulations that would privatize and undo many regulatory initiatives,” explains Rahman. To “finally make good” on crucial progressive ideals, including gender inclusion and economic justice, we must preserve government’s role to act in the greater good for our society.

What We’re Reading

On Thursday, the anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death, an op-ed from Roosevelt Senior Fellow David B. Woolner was featured in The Nation. “Saying Goodbye to FDR’s World” examines the decline of progressive, collective action—and the rise of isolationism—in the U.S. and abroad since FDR’s passing in 1945. “On the anniversary of the day that people the world over mourned the passing of the leader that called upon humanity to reject fear and embrace hope, we might do well to heed this advice,” writes Woolner.


Coming in May: The New-York Historical Society will have on display a powerful exhibition of Norman Rockwell’s vision of FDR’s Four Freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. “We had a president who showed leadership by outlining four simple answers to the question of, what does it mean to be an American?” said Louise Mirrer, the historical society’s president and chief executive. The show opens at the end of May. Learn more here.