The Accountable Capitalism Act, Why Voters Don’t Feel Economic Growth, and a Public Option for Finance

August 17, 2018

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

1. The Accountable Capitalism Act

On Wednesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act, legislation that would require corporations to consider the interests of all stakeholders within the firm—not only shareholders—in company decisions. Roosevelt Senior Economist and Policy Counsel Lenore Palladino responded to the bill: “The act would ensure that the voice of working people in corporate decision-making reflects the crucial role they play in their employers’ success.” On the blog, Palladino explains how we can redefine corporate power (and why we don’t have to wait for Congress to act).

2. Why Voters Don’t Feel Economic Growth

This week, The New York Times Editorial Board showed that President Trump’s tax cuts have helped corporate executives and the already wealthy but haven’t boosted wages. Roosevelt Vice President of Policy and Research Nell Abernathy joined Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien and What’d You Miss? on Bloomberg TV to explain why the rules of our economy only work for the few: “This is really about 40 years of economic policy that’s benefitting capital holders at the expense of everyone else.” And Roosevelt Fellow Darrick Hamilton spoke with the Associated Pressexposing Trump’s deceptive claims that Black Americans’ are economically healthy.

3. One More Travesty in the Student Loan Program

In a column for The American Prospect, Roosevelt Fellow Julie Margetta Morgan and Editor Kendra Bozarth connect the rise in corporate stock buybacks to America’s student debt crisis. From 2014 to 2017, student loan giant Navient spent $2.75 billion on buybacks, funneling profits to shareholders and executives at the expense of borrowers. “Taxpayers and students need Navient to invest in a long-term strategy that promotes the best outcomes for those who are trapped under debt,” explain Morgan and Bozarth. “The federal government has no business investing taxpayer money in a company that squeezes those at the bottom of our economy to line the pockets of those at the top.”

4. A Public Option for Finance

As seen in the broader economy, the banking sector today is moving away from low-cost financial services to high-profit activities—ultimately leaving marginalized Americans underserved and left behind. In a joint report with the Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke, economics professor Thomas Herndon and Roosevelt Fellow Mark Paul argue that a public banking option would directly compete with the outsized (and often predatory) power of the private sector in household banking services. “In one major restructuring of finance, this public option would make our economy more inclusive,” said Paul.

5. New Work Towards a New Labor Law

To build an economy that works for workers, we need bold changes to labor law in the U.S. Covering our recent report by law professor Kate Andrias and Roosevelt Fellow Brishen Rogers, OnLabor says that the “policy options would construct a labor law in which many more workers have many more options for how to act collectively.” In Jacobin, Meagan Day elevates their proposals, exploring why politicians are paying attention to big ideas—and why we should push them to adopt a pro-worker agenda. And on Twitter, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Mary Kay Henry commended our efforts to rewrite the rules, and Roosevelt Program Director Rakeen Mabud discussed the hidden rules of anti-union efforts.

What We’re Reading

In “Our Blind Spots Often Hide the Truth About America,” class journalist Sarah Smarsh responds to questions and comments from readers of her recent NYT op-ed about “Trump Country.” Through illuminating remarks, Smarsh reminds us that Americans’ experiences are much more complex than the labels—socialist, deplorable, feminist—we ascribe to them. “Diminishing a perceived opponent or an inconvenient fact through name-calling…is a hallmark of the current Republican administration, but dangerous labels work in all directions,” she writes. “While we work toward systemic justice and integration, we can strive at the individual level to break free from our proverbial bubbles.”