The Erosion of America’s Social Contract, What Will Save Us, and Why Labor Is a Foreign Policy Issue

October 12, 2018

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

1. The Erosion of America’s Social Contract…

Recently, the Trump administration proposed “public charge,” a new rule that would make it exceedingly difficult for immigrants who have received public assistance to secure citizenship in the United States. For CNN, Roosevelt Fellow Andrea Flynn and incoming Center for Community Change President Dorian Warren describe how this move disadvantages immigrants but also jeopardizes Americans’ well-being: “Immigrant families are on the front lines of these attacks, but the erosion of the social contract will ultimately hurt all families and will weaken our economy and our democracy.”

2. …and the Erosion of Good Policy

Recently, the Department of Education released an assessment of its Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which offers student loan cancellations for borrowers who commit to 10 years of public service. For USA Today, Roosevelt Fellow Julie Margetta Morgan explains why almost no one actually benefits. Out of 32,601 applications for the PSLF program, only 96 borrowers have had their debt cancelled—meaning 99 percent of applications processed were denied. “The fine print of Public Service Loan Forgiveness made it doomed from the start,” said Morgan. “We should bear that in mind as we craft new policies to fix college affordability.”

3. What Will Save Us

From the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States to the very near climate crisis, it’s clear that we are approaching a breaking point on the global stage. On the blog, Roosevelt Network Director Katie Kirchner discusses how we got here—unchecked corporate power and massive institutional failures—and where we must go: “We desperately need a new generation of leadership unafraid to confront the current, highly concentrated power structures with bold, visionary ideas for how we can build a more equitable future.”

4. Why Labor Is a Foreign Policy Issue

In a column for Vox, Roosevelt Fellow Todd N. Tucker explains why labor is a foreign policy issue and why the world needs a deal like the Paris climate agreement to help save unions and bolster worker power. “A growing body of research shows that a decline in union power leads to economic inequality, weakened democracy, and political instability,” writes Tucker. An international labor treaty—what Tucker calls the Worker Power Agreement—can make globalization inclusive and equitable. “What could be better for peace and tranquility?” he asks.

5. Eleanor’s Legacy in 2018

In 1932, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote When You Grow Up to Vote: How Our Government Works for You, a civics book for young children that explains why we all shape—and are shaped by—our democracy. For PBS NewsHour, Victoria Pasquantonio spoke with Eleanor’s granddaughter, Nancy Ireland, about why the civics lessons Eleanor passed down matter today. “My grandmother makes a case in this book that voters can still make a difference by taking part in a collective action… We learned in the March for Our Lives that kids, even before they vote, can make an impact on our elected officials.” Read the interview here.

What We’re Reading

Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong is MM.LaFleur’s Woman of the Week. In an interview with the women’s business apparel brand, Wong discusses growing up in Silicon Valley, how she found her true calling (turning big ideas into real-world policies) in graduate school, what it’s like to run a progressive think tank, and how the ideals of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt shape our work today. “A good think tank connects ideas to audiences who will benefit from them,” she said. Many thanks to Four Freedoms Park for setting the scene with an incredible backdrop.

What We’re Watching

“Republicans may be about to steal an election in Georgia,” writes Paul Waldman in an op-ed for The New York Times. Brian Kemp, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, has not only continued his role as secretary of state (the official who oversees all elections in the state), but he is also overseeing the implementation of two policies that have put 53,000 voter registration applications on hold—nearly 70 percent of which belong to Black voters. Stacey Abrams’ campaign is calling on Kemp to resign.