Reactionary Judges, Nursing Mothers, and the True Cost of Tax Cuts for the Rich

July 13, 2018

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

1. What Kavanaugh Tells Us

By nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, President Trump made it clear that the conservative movement’s attacks on the rights of women, communities of color, workers, and LGBTQ people will only intensify in the years ahead. In the Washington Post, Roosevelt Fellow and labor law expert Brishen Rogers spoke about the LGBTQ workers who, because of Kavanaugh’s nomination, will likely face new levels of workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. And in Bloomberg, Roosevelt Fellow and women’s health expert Andrea Flynn took stock of the threat Kavanaugh’s rise poses to the physical and economic wellbeing of women across the country.

2. Court-packing Gaining Traction

Kavanaugh’s paper trail tells us that he will routinely side with corporate bosses against workers, with vote suppressors against communities of color, and with conservative officials against the rule of law. His nomination and the Court’s rightward drift will be a huge obstacle to enacting the policy changes that enjoy broad public support and which our economy and society will need to remain viable in the long term. In the face of this quandary, there has been a surge of interest in a tactic historically associated with FDR: packing the Supreme Court. And Roosevelt Fellow and political scientist Todd Tucker has emerged as a cogent voice calling on the next progressive president to strongly consider packing the Court.

3. Trump v. Women’s Health, UN Edition

Even in an administration known for its conniptions, the White House’s spat with the Ecuadorean government this week was a standout. At issue was Ecuador sponsoring a non-controversial UN resolution touting the health and economic benefits of new mothers breastfeeding their children. But following pressure from Nestle and other infant formula manufacturers, the Trump administration attempted to force Ecuador to withdraw the resolution. The move stunned world leaders and public health experts. But Roosevelt Fellow Andrea Flynn argued that, while shocking and offensive, these developments were not surprising but exactly what we should expect from a president and conservative movement that are hostile to women’s health and subservient to corporate power.

4. What the Tax Scam Hath Wrought

Recent polling shows that the American public is not impressed with the GOP tax law. And broadly held perceptions that the law unfairly favors the already wealthy and powerful gained new credence this week, following reports that Florida congressman Vern Buchanan, a multi-millionaire Republican from the Sarasota area, bought himself a $3.25 million yacht the day the House of Representatives passed the tax cuts. Sadly, the conservative obsession with tax cuts for the rich is nothing new. In The Fiscal Times, Roosevelt Fellow and tax policy expert Michael Linden noted that since 2000 the federal government has spent more on tax cuts for the 1% than on highway construction and maintenance.

5. Big Changes at the Center for Community Change

On Wednesday, the Center for Community Change announced that its Board of Directors had unanimously selected Roosevelt Fellow Dorian Warren as its new president. The Center, founded in 1968 following the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, works to organize communities, build grassroots power, and drive progressive policy from the bottom up in cities and towns across the country. For years, Dorian has been instrumental in the Roosevelt Institute’s research on racial equity and how to build a more just society. We are thrilled for both Dorian and the Center. The entire progressive movement will be stronger for his leadership in the years ahead.

What We’re Reading

In a powerful and probing piece, Senator Cory Booker reflects on his own family’s history, the path he has taken in life, and the challenges currently facing the United States. He concludes that to move forward, our country’s policymakers need to return to a commitment to improving the lives of ordinary people by cracking down on concentrated corporate economic and political power.