An Institutional Response to Trump, the GOP’s Hidden Tax Agenda, and Exposing Shareholders

June 22, 2018

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

1. An Institutional Response to Trump

Immigration in the U.S. has always been an economic and moral issue, but the situation at the border today is a humanitarian crisis. For Politico, Roosevelt Fellow Todd N. Tucker explains how Mexico could force America’s hand on immigration. Mexico and four other Central and South American countries launched a formal complaint against the Trump administration that will be reviewed by a panel of seven human rights experts at the Organization of American States (OAS). Based in D.C., the regional affairs organization, which was established to foster unity and cooperation between member states, is “now poised to become—by default—the most significant institutional response to Trumpism in what is otherwise a town under one-party control,” says Tucker.

2. Hidden Agenda of the Trump Tax Law

On Wednesday, six months after the Trump tax law was passed, the Roosevelt Institute and Tax March hosted a conversation on how it amplifies racial and wealth inequality. Congressmember Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) opened the event with a bold speech on why progressives must “put people of color front and center.” The first panel covered the hidden rules of the new tax code, featuring Roosevelt Fellows Darrick Hamilton and Michael Linden. Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal moderated the second discussion, which explored how the tax cuts will reinforce today’s high-profit, low-wage economy. “We are making it very profitable to do things that are not good for the economy,” said Nell Abernathy, Roosevelt’s Vice President of Policy and Research.

3. Beyond the Budget

Many progressives have correctly criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for its high cost, the proposed cuts to core public programs as a result of its cost, and the ways it disproportionately benefits the wealthy and powerful few. In an issue brief, Roosevelt Research Director and Fellow Marshall Steinbaum and Vice President of Advocacy and Policy Steph Sterling explore another argument: “As progressives continue efforts to argue … for a new vision for the tax code, it is this case—that conservative tax policy increases incentives for the rich and powerful to take even more of the economic pie, without doing nearly enough to grow it—that should be front and center.”

4. Who Are the Shareholders?

In a new report, Roosevelt Fellow Susan R. Holmberg disproves common myths about shareholders—including the popular belief that most Americans own stock—and analyzes how they drive economic and racial inequality in our skewed economy. Dedicated to the late, great legal scholar Lynn Stout, Who Are the Shareholders? examines these corporate stakeholders through three dimensions: identity, role, and power. As Holmberg explains, “We can’t dismantle [shareholder power] without first understanding the complex nature of shareholders and the impact they have on our economy and society.” Holmberg specifically elevates how better corporate rules will bring about broader, stronger prosperity.

5. The Dangers of Facial Analysis

In The New York Times op-ed “When the Robot Doesn’t See Dark Skin,” Algorithmic Justice League Founder Joy Buolamwini describes how artificial intelligence systems, such as Google’s photo application, can reinforce racial and gender bias and exclusion. This is most troubling for facial analysis software used in already racialized settings, including border control, hiring, and law enforcement. “The research shows that the threat of labor-displacing technology is not imminent,” tweeted Roosevelt Program Director Rakeen Mabud. “But the ways in which AI entrenches and amplifies existing racial and gender bias are deeply worrisome.”

What We’re Reading

The Nation Editor and Publisher (and Roosevelt board member) Katrina vanden Heuvel was in WaPo this week boldly calling for the U.S. to forgive all Americans’ crippling student debt. She elevated research from Roosevelt’s Marshall Steinbaum, citing how this move would grow the economy. “Does forgiving $1.5 trillion in student debt over 10 years cost too much money?” vanden Heuvel asks. “Republicans clearly didn’t think ‘$1.5 trillion’ sounded unreasonable when they forced through that amount in tax cuts to overwhelmingly benefit corporations and the wealthiest Americans.”

What We’re Watching

Perrin Ireland, visual storyteller and the great-granddaughter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, recently designed a masterful video on the Dust Bowl—one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in U.S. history. Produced by the Pare Lorentz Film Center at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker narrates the story of how FDR responded to the crisis with leadership, strength, and compassion.