Google’s Record Fine, Student Loan Debt’s Growing Toll, and Rent through the Roof

July 20, 2018

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

1. Learning from Europe on Antitrust Enforcement

This week, regulators in the European Union announced a record $5 billion fine on Google. This penalty was related to alleged anti-competitive practices by the tech giant connected to its Android smart phone and its operating system. The massive size of the punishment was seen by many as further proof that European regulators take corporate malfeasance more seriously than their American counterparts. Roosevelt Fellow Marshall Steinbaum spoke with USA Today about the ways that tech companies have avoided punishment for antitrust violations here in the United States and what that says about the failures of America’s broader approach to regulating and confronting monopolies.

2. Getting Real about Student Loan Debt

When word broke about the premiere of a new game show “Paid Off,” which helps contestants pay off their student loan debt, many people saw it as a glaring example of the ways our current system is failing young people and the broader economy. At InverseJames Dennin reported on this growing public perception that the student debt crisis is out of control and policymakers must do something about it. He spoke with Roosevelt Fellow Julie Margetta Morgan about the ways student debt policies have failed and linked to Roosevelt Fellow Marshall Steinbaum’s report from earlier this year, which called on policymakers to cancel student debt entirely.

3. The Rent Is Too High

In cities and towns across America, housing costs are out of control and place Americans under increasing financial pressure. To make matters worse, Washington appears wholly uninterested in even acknowledging the issue despite the fact that the federal government could make a financial commitment to stabilize the housing crisis. Although they have very few tools at their disposal, local policymakers do have a very potent measure to help those facing housing insecurity: rent control. Roosevelt Fellow J.W. Mason spoke with The New Republic about the merit of rent control and the ways many economists get this debate wrong.

4. The Trade War Roars On

Global trade tensions escalated further this week, instigated by the Trump administration’s additional tariffs on key trading partners. Here at home, the auto industry began forming a united front to push back against the tariffs and call on the administration to change course. And in the media, much attention was paid to what impact these tensions may have on the midterm elections. Roosevelt Fellow and trade policy expert Todd Tucker spoke with Bloomberg about the ways that both major parties’ bases are shifting their views on trade, and The Week featured his recent commentary in a piece about how progressives should not ignore the sense among many voters that trade has left them worse off.

5. Sabeel Rahman to Lead Demos

On Tuesday, the New York-based think tank Demos announced that Roosevelt Fellow Sabeel Rahman had been selected as its new president. Sabeel is widely recognized as a brilliant thought leader and scholar on key issues, including racial and economic inequality and democratic participation. The announcement was applauded throughout the progressive movement as an inspired choice. We are proud and excited for both Sabeel and Demos and look forward to seeing all they achieve in this new partnership.

What We’re Reading

Jamelle Bouie looks at polling data and interviews with the Midwestern, white working class voters who supported President Obama in previous elections before voting for Trump in 2016. He concludes many feel betrayed by the man who ran as a populist but has governed like a plutocrat. On issues including health care, taxes, and infrastructure, a bold economic message from a different candidate may be effective in convincing these voters to end their support of Trump.