Trump’s Trade War, a Student Debt System That Forgot the Students, and Why Bold Is Not Impossible

July 5, 2018

The Roosevelt Rundown is an email series featuring the Roosevelt Institute’s top 5 stories of the week. Due to the Fourth of July holiday, we’ve abbreviated this week’s rundown and will return to our standard issue next week.

1. Trump’s Trade War

President Donald Trump ignited a trade war with China after imposing tariffs on over $30 billion of imports. Since Congress has the power to tax, The Week asked “how can he do this?” Roosevelt Fellow Todd N. Tucker explains by noting a shift in responsibility to the executive branch in the 1800s as trade policy became a foreign affairs issue. For Lawfare, Tucker looks at how the newest legal challenge to Trump’s tariffs—filed by a group of steel importers who are contesting constitutionality—could unravel precedent. If the decision favors the plaintiffs, it would “be the first time since the early New Deal era that courts ruled that Congress went too far in delegating its lawmaking powers,” said Tucker. “This is but the latest way that Trump’s aberrant behavior is prompting reactions that undermine long-standing norms.”

2. A Student Debt Program That Forgot the Students

Roosevelt Fellow Julie Margetta Morgan joined The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow to discuss her recent issue brief on the corruption driving America’s student debt crisis. From lowering interest rates to cancelling student debt altogether, higher education advocates who seek relief for students are told by policymakers not to expect it anytime soon. “There are bailouts and handouts available in the student loan program [for industry insiders]—just not for the students and borrowers,” she noted. The Chronicle of Higher Education elevated Morgan’s point that though we need to change the way that the student loan program operates, it is critical that we also target the norms and assumptions that guide it.

3. Bold Is Not Impossible

In “Radical Democrats Are Pretty Reasonable,” economist Paul Krugman provides his take on a few big policy ideas, including Medicare for all and a federal job guarantee (as proposed by Roosevelt Fellows Sandy Darity, Darrick Hamilton, and Mark Paul.) On the latter, Krugman writes: “The point, in any case, is that while a jobs guarantee is probably further than most Democrats, even in the progressive wing, are willing to go, it’s a response to real problems, and it’s not at all a crazy idea.” In an era of deep-rooted economic and racial inequality, it is necessary to put forward an ambitious rewrite of the current rules.

What We’re Reading

On Wednesday, Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong shared a reminder for all of us to read the timeless, illuminating work by Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” “Here’s hoping people take the time to read the entirety of Douglass’s brilliant speech; even though his were words that spoke directly to his moment in history, they still ring with an unsettling power,” said The Nation’s Dave Zirin.