Restoring Confidence in SCOTUS, the STOP Walmart Act, and Remedies for Big Tech

November 16, 2018

Following the Thanksgiving break, the Roosevelt Rundown will return on Friday, November 30.

1. Restoring Confidence in the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) often makes final legal decisions for how our economy and democracy work, or don’t, for most Americans. Yet, today’s Supreme Court is facing a crisis of legitimacy. In Off-Balance: Five Strategies for a Judiciary That Supports Democracy, Roosevelt Fellow Todd N. Tucker outlines bold reforms needed to restore confidence in SCOTUS. “As conservatives increasingly deploy radical measures to reshape state courts—including expansion and impeachment—progressives should not be afraid to advance similar reforms at the national level to protect the interests of all Americans, not just the powerful,” said Tucker.

2. The STOP Walmart Act

On Wednesday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) unveiled the STOP Walmart Act, which, by disallowing stock buybacks by large corporations unless employees earn a minimum wage of $15 an hour, is a bold step to tame extractive corporate behavior and instead encourage reinvestment in workers. “While the act takes aim at Walmart, the country’s largest private employer, it highlights the theme of my work: that excessive giveaways to shareholders across the vast majority of large corporations are a major part of why workers’ wages remain stagnant,” writes Roosevelt Senior Economist and Policy Counsel Lenore Palladino.

3. Amazon HQ2 (and 3)

After a long bidding war for its $5 billion second headquarters location, Amazon announced its selection: the company will split the expansion between New York City and Arlington, Virginia. The new locations will reportedly create 25,000 new jobs for each city—after Amazon receives hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies from state and local governments. “Amazon faces backlash over HQ2 decision,” writes WaPo’s Taylor Tedford, discussing the massive amount of corporate welfare the company received. Elected to Congress last week, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez questioned the decision: “When we talk about bringing jobs to the community, we need to dig deep: Are these jobs low-wage or high wage? Are there benefits? Can people collectively bargain?”

4. Remedies for Big Tech

On Tuesday, the Roosevelt Institute and the George Washington Institute of Public Policy co-hosted an event on the rise of big tech—focusing on Amazon, Facebook, and Google—the declining state of competition in high-tech industries, and solutions to restore it. “Amazon doesn’t want to dominate the market. It wants to be the market,” said Stacy Mitchell, Co-Director at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, during the second panel discussionRoosevelt Research Director and Fellow Marshall Steinbaum, who spoke at the event, live tweeted the opening interview with of Jonathan Tepper, author of The Myth of Capitalism, as well as the closing conversation.

5. A Discussion on the Future of Work

This week, the Roosevelt communications team hosted a Twitter chat on the #futureofwork. Participants included Roosevelt Program Associate Jess Forden, Fellow Rakeen Mabud, Insight Center for Community Economic Development President Anne Price, and ROC United Strategic Research Associate Veronica Avila. During the chat, Roosevelt’s Marshall Steinbaum connected the hidden rules of race and gender discrimination to the labor market: “The overall point is that exploitation of workers in the labor market cannot BUT be racialized and gendered. These are the dimensions along which the inequality of power in the economy has always made itself known.”

What We’re Reading

Zach Carter asks “Did Helping Big Banks Pay off for Democrats?” Though voters re-elected most left-leaning incumbents last Tuesday, many policymakers who supported Trump’s rollback of banking rules (and received campaign cash from commercial banks) lost badly. “The lesson from the bank bill is not that selling out never pays off; it’s that corporate money can’t save senators who have nothing else to run on.”