Lowering Unemployment, #MomsDontNeed, and Putting Workers First

May 11, 2018

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

1. How Low Can Unemployment Go?

In April, the unemployment rate fell below 4 percent for the first time in 18 years. Some economists argue that low unemployment can hurt the economy by spiking inflation, but Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal explains in Vox why there’s room for it to go lower. Beyond helping workers, lower unemployment can stimulate broad economic growth and incentivize investments in productivity. “The harder we push on improving output and employment, the more we learn how much we can achieve on those two fronts,” he writes.

2. Corporate Accountability Abroad

For Politico, Roosevelt Fellow Todd N. Tucker asks, “Is the Supreme Court going too easy on overseas corporations?” The court recently ruled to end a decades-long standard for prosecuting corporate misconduct committed overseas in U.S. courts. Tucker explains what the decision means for the imbalance of economic and political power in America and abroad: “In a highly globalized world, the picture emerging from America’s highest court is of a playing field in which corporations enjoy plenty of rights, and the rest of us face a shrinking set of tools to hold them accountable.”

3. #MomsDontNeed

In recognition of Mother’s Day, the National Partnership for Women & Families hosted a #MomsDontNeed tweetstorm to elevate the policies and proposals that jeopardize the well-being and economic security of mothers and families across the country. The Roosevelt Institute co-sponsored the event, channeling our progressive vision for a better society with the participation of Roosevelt Fellow Andrea Flynn. “#MomsDontNeed us to tinker around the edges and make incremental changes. They need us to invest in and advocate for bold, proactive and progressive policies,” she tweeted.

4. The Right Is Endangering Students

The Trump administration is deprioritizing the economic security of students. “All the Obama-era accountability brought to for-profit colleges, who play a key role in [the] student loan crisis, was done or started through @CFPB investigating predatory student lending,” said Roosevelt’s Mike Konczal after the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced the reorganization of its student loan division. In a time of profound—and deepening—economic inequality, including a racial wealth gap made worse by student debt, it is alarming for the current administration to shrink the office intended to protect student loan borrowers.

5. Putting Workers First

In “Democrats Take Aim at the Gig Economy,” Bloomberg’s Josh Eidelson outlines legislation introduced by leading progressives, which takes aim at today’s shareholder-first economy with major reforms to labor law. Though it’s unlikely to move forward in a Republican-held Congress, the proposal would bolster organizing rights for contract and independent workers, showing voters what’s possible with progressive policymaking. “We cannot live in an economy where we do what is only good for the employer,” said Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). “I think it’s about time that we start looking at the needs of workers, and not just large corporations.”

What We’re Reading

Progressives are working to push forward big political ideas, but are they being heard? For the Columbia Journalism Review, Delacorte Fellow and media reporter Jon Allsop examines the “model of the media opinion forum,” where he says radically left movements are excluded. “An opportunity exists … to mold this moment of uncertainty into a more inclusive future.” If mainstream news is driving the debate, ideological diversity must be considered.

Who We’re Watching

In an insightful video, professor and political commentator Robert Reich explains the monopolization of America—or what he calls the “hidden upward redistribution of money and power from the majority of Americans to corporate executives and wealthy shareholders.” From the farm industry to health insurance to internet service, Reich exposes today’s monopoly problem and explains why it is time to revive antitrust policy.