Unstacking the Deck, the Limits of Antitrust, and Progressive Political Talent

May 4, 2018

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

1. A New Agenda to Tame Corruption in Washington

Public debate often focuses on “money in politics”—or more specifically the role of money in elections—but policymakers have paid less attention to “money in government”: the ways that money corrupts government officials and agencies, influencing them to act in the benefit of special interests rather than serving the public good. In Unstacking the Deck: A New Agenda to Tame Corruption in Washington, Roosevelt Fellows Rohit Chopra and Julie Morgan describe the corrosive problem of money in government and outline an agenda to root out the hidden corruption driving Americans’ deep distrust of our public institutions.

2. Government Corruption and Our Democracy

The media reports daily on government corruption, most recently that of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt. As reported in The Nation, corruption deeply undermines the fundamental principles of the economy—and our democracy. For The Week, national correspondent Ryan Cooper examines the “astonishing corruption of American democracy” and elevates the bipartisan reforms put forward by Roosevelt’s Chopra and Morgan that would amount to a massive ethics overhaul for the 21st century. HuffPost’s Zach Carter provides an in-depth synopsis of Unstacking the Deck, writing: “The Roosevelt Institute paper could be the start of a new conversation about clean government.”

3. The Limits of Antitrust Enforcement

In Boston Review, Roosevelt Visiting Fellow Brishen Rogers explains why antitrust enforcement alone is not enough to foster a healthy labor market. “A realistic effort to combat structural economic power can’t just act ‘from above,’ limiting the power of the largest economic actors. It also needs to act ‘from below,’ enabling workers to protest, organize, and exert countervailing power once again,” he writes. Curbing employer power through renewed antitrust policy is necessary, but we most also complement this effort with rules that can rebuild and sustain worker power from the bottom up.

4. Progressive Political Talent

Roosevelt Forward President and CEO Felicia Wong and Democracy Alliance Senior Vice President Julie Kohler are in The Nation, calling on progressive funders and strategists to strengthen their approach to developing candidates, especially women. Despite the record-breaking momentum we’re seeing of women running for office—over 300 women are running for the House—Wong and Kohler argue that the Year of the Woman won’t succeed without deeper, targeted investments: “Strategists and funders must step up. Candidates, many of them women, already have.”

5. Who Benefits?

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was in the news this week for breaking ranks from conservatives’ message on the Trump tax law, acknowledging that there’s no evidence that the corporate tax cuts are benefiting workers. Roosevelt Vice President of Research and Policy Nell Abernathy was quoted in Vox, explaining why corporate behavior today means that prosperity at the top will not trickle down to workers. “The tax plan is just the latest in a long line of really bad economic policies that are based on an idea of how corporations work that has nothing to do with how corporations actually work today,” she said.

What We’re Reading

NYT op-ed contributors Eric Posner and Glen Weyl have an important piece on America’s market power problem and what can be done about it. “Today, market power takes new forms, but the solution is the same: antimonopoly laws and laws protecting workers, but updated for the problems of the 21st century,” they explain. Market power is economically and morally indefensible, and policymakers should work to undo it.

Who We’re Following

Roosevelt Network Emerging Fellow Eamon Ross will soon release a paper outlining his proposal to end food deserts and build sustainable communities in Binghamton, New York—and beyond. Pipe Dream covers the effort of Ross and partner advocates to open a local grocery store in the North Side neighborhood.