#EndCorruptionNow, There Is Work to be Done, and Making Big Companies Accountable

August 24, 2018

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

1. Unstacking the Deck in Washington

After sharing examples of the corrosive problem of corruption in Washington, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced the biggest anti-corruption package since Watergate on Tuesday. The Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act prevents anyone who holds a key political position, including the president and congressional lawmakers, from becoming a lobbyist and bans federal judges from owning individual stock, among other key reforms. Roosevelt Fellow Julie Margetta Morgan issued a statement“We need robust laws that keep money and self-interest out of policymaking, and we need a single agency that is accountable for enforcing them. The Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act is a bold proposal to give us both.”

2. Why Robots Won’t Take Over Work

A common narrative in the 21st century is that technological change will accelerate economic insecurity by eliminating jobs and hurting wages. In a column for Forbes, Roosevelt Fellow Mark Paul deflates the “lump-of-labor fallacy”—the idea that there is a fixed amount of work to be done in the economy—a view that is driving Americans’ misplaced fear of automation and absolving lawmakers of their responsibility to write better rules. “The fatalism perpetuated by the lump-of-labor fallacy, inciting fear that the economy cannot create new and better jobs, leads to a decline in public pressure on policymakers to help create an economy with full employment and rising wages for all,” writes Paul.

3. Racial Disadvantages of the Tax Code

The tax code today works in favor of corporations and the wealthy few. The hidden rules—the policies, systems, and institutions that work against most individuals and communities of color—of our economy and society deeply disadvantage Black and brown Americans. Speaking to the Center For Public Integrity, Roosevelt Fellow Michael S. Linden explains how the Trump tax law exacerbates this reality, favoring white Americans over minorities. The tax code is not a natural force beyond our control; it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s “unacceptable in a modern society,” Linden said, “for us to have different economic systems for different people.”

4. Making Big Companies Accountable

This week, Roosevelt Senior Economist and Policy Counsel Lenore Palladino spoke with Eillie Anzilotti of Fast Company about Sen. Warren’s bold proposal to share corporate wealth—and power—with workers and what this means for progressive policymaking: “The [Democratic] party as a whole is…looking for smart, commonsense solutions that would allow us to have an economy that works better for more people.” By requiring large corporations to evaluate the interests of all stakeholders—including workers, managers, and executives—and giving workers a voice on corporate boards, the Accountable Capitalism Act is a clear step in the right direction.

5. The Case for a State-Owned Bank

For Jacobin, journalist Meagan Day makes the case for a public banking option. “Regulating finance won’t cut it. To combat predatory lending, we need a fully public, state-owned bank,” she says. In a new paper, Roosevelt’s Mark Paul and Loyola Marymount University assistant professor of economics Thomas Herndon lay out the solution. As a regulatory tool, a public banking option would combat anti-competitive practices and bridge the financial divide. “A public option for banking would empower millions of families by giving them a foothold of financial stability,” said Paul. “It would also make it much harder for private-sector banks to continue getting away with abusive practices like excessive fees.”

What We’re Reading

Bloomberg asks, “What’s Holding Back Wages in America?” In recent reports, including Curbing Stock Buybacks, we explain: outsized corporate power. “America’s labor market is a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces don’t quite fit together,” says Bloomberg. To reset the economy and ensure it works for the many, we have to tame corporate power and empower workers.