Market Power Takes Flight, Getting Democrats Back on the Left, and Changing the Narrative on Racial Inequity

June 8, 2018

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

1. Market Power Takes Flight

Following decades of lax antitrust enforcement, the airline sector today suffers from a market power problem. In a new report, Roosevelt Research Director and Fellow Marshall Steinbaum studies the increased consolidation of the airline industry over 10 years—which, as explained in The Week, has been great for corporate profits but bad for consumers and other economic stakeholders. In “How Airlines Explain Our Screwed Up Economy,” Steinbaum reviews his findings alongside the history of the airline sector overall. “The misery of air travel is a case study in why existing laws haven’t been enough to protect us from a new Gilded Age,” he writes.

2. The Economic Inequality Episode

Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal was recently a guest on Lovett or Leave It, a weekly podcast hosted by Jon Lovett, former speech and joke writer for President Barack Obama. From market power and corporate consolidation to the inequities in our justice system, the episode covered today’s biggest issues. Discussing a progressive political agenda, Konczal elevated the importance of fostering inclusivity: “If we’re talking about a vision of how we want the economy to go, it’s going to have a race and gender component to it. And it’s our job to make sure it’s inclusive enough that [it] motivates a broad number of people to vote for [that vision].”

3. Getting Dems Back on the Left

The recent weakening of Dodd-Frank was only possible because a handful of Democrats in Congress supported the rollback. Conservative groups, including Americans for Prosperity, are now publicly supporting some of these center-left lawmakers. “Politically, it’s hard to see much upside to be associated with banks and deregulation and the possibility of another financial crisis,” said Roosevelt’s Mike Konczal in Vox. “If Democrats want to be competitive in red states and red areas of the country, they need a new playbook.” Instead of taking the “best deal,” policymakers need to show voters that they’re serious about reining in the power of the Wall Street.

4. Changing the Narrative and Building Power

This week, the Insight Center for Community Economic Development (Insight CCED) reshared a virtual conversation on the racial wealth divide, featuring Insight CCED President Anne Price, Roosevelt Fellow Dorian Warren, and others. From a tax code that hinders inclusive prosperity to outsized employer power that sidelines people of color, the rules of our economy and society today reinforce inequitable outcomes. As the panelists explain, we cannot undo this reality and advance racial equity without establishing new narratives and better strategies that challenge how we talk about—and tackle—these crucial issues.

5. Is the G7 No More?

The Group of Seven (or G7) is a forum of the largest advanced economies across the globe—the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom—and is scheduled to meet this weekend for its annual summit. Amid domestic and international tensions, The Week asks, “Is the G7 obsolete? Roosevelt Fellow Todd N. Tucker weighed in on the uncertainty: “It’s really useful for advanced democracies to have a space—unlike the World Trade Organization, unlike the Security Council—where they can have frank conversations about challenges of authoritarianism and state capitalism and development aid without being out-voted or vetoed.”

What We’re Reading

In “A Generation Buried in Student Debt,” the Chicago Sun-Times explores the ballooning student debt crisis, with commentary from Roosevelt’s Marshall Steinbaum. In an upcoming issue brief, Roosevelt Fellow Julie Margetta Morgan will examine the student loan system, focusing on the rules and institutions that prioritize relief for certain participants—lenders, servicers, and more—over students.


Following a recent issue brief from Fellows Darrick Hamilton and Michael Linden on the hidden rules of the Trump tax law—which greatly disadvantage black and brown Americans—the Roosevelt Institute is co-hosting an event with Tax March on Wednesday, June 20th, in Washington D.C. Learn more and RSVP for “Hidden Agenda: How the New Tax Law Amplifies Racial and Wealth Inequality” here.