FDR’s Lesson for the GND, Overcoming the Ideology of Climate Inaction, and the Power of Worker Organizing

March 1, 2019

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

1. FDR’s Lesson for the Green New Deal

For TIME, Roosevelt Fellows Andrea Flynn and Susan R. Holmberg reflect on how the architects of the Green New Deal (GND) are aiming to—and must—succeed where FDR’s New Deal failed: at addressing racial inequality. “…it is the very breadth and depth of the Green New Deal that could not only allow it to restore the vanishing American middle class and sustainably transform the nation’s way of life, but also to succeed in one area where the New Deal of seven decades ago failed—by intentionally including those who have been historically excluded,” they write.

2. Overcoming the Ideology of Climate Inaction

The Green New Deal proposal has been largely dismissed by America’s political establishment as too ambitious. For Project Syndicate, Colorado State University Professor Anders Fremstad and Roosevelt Fellow Mark Paul explain why “the real fantasists are those who believe ‘market-based solutions’ can overcome climate change.” Achieving the goals of a GND—the costs of inaction are literally beyond calculation—will require a two-part project of rewriting economic policy and bolstering public investment. “Taken together, these measures could mobilize America’s latent productive capacities in ways not seen since World War II. Without them, the global effort to tackle climate change will have a snowball’s chance in Hell.”

3. The Power of Worker Organizing

Last week, Google announced that it would end its practice of mandatory arbitration for employment disputes. “This is a big deal,” writes Roosevelt Fellow Rakeen Mabud in her latest Forbes column. “Not only because one of the most powerful companies in the world is ending a practice that gives employers a huge leg up over workers, but also because of what it tells us about the power of organizing in the tech world.” While a major victory, Mabud also explains how the decision speaks to a broader conversation about inclusion: “It remains to be seen whether Google’s contractual workers will get to share in the benefits extended to full-time employees.”

4. The ‘Free-Market’ Economy Is a Myth

Companies today are not working the way that most Americans have been told that they do: Corporate tax cuts, for example, have not incentivized executives to act in ways that grow the economy. In “Rejecting the Theory of the Firm,” Roosevelt Vice President of Policy and Strategy Nell Abernathy debunks the long-standing myth that markets—and the firms that operate within them—should be released of rules and regulations. Abernathy argues that in order to build a more equitable and productive economy, we need to revive public power, which means restoring the government’s role in setting the terms by which private enterprise operates. On the blog, Roosevelt Press Manager Ariela Weinberger underscores why workers and economic growth suffer when our markets are not guided by rules.

5. Shareholders Are Leaving Workers in the Dust

For Washington Post, data reporter Christopher Ingraham digs in to the latest on shareholder primacy—what Ingraham calls “a relentless focus on maximizing shareholder value”—by Roosevelt Fellow and Senior Economist Lenore Palladino. “Nearly fifty years of increasing focus on shareholder payments has cost American workers the chance to do well when corporations do well,” said Palladino in a statement. “The misguided assumption that corporate prosperity should benefit only shareholders has hurt the ability of employees to bargain for a share of that prosperity—which they help create—and held back a growing economy.”

What We’re Reading

This week, top executives from the seven largest drug companies testified before the Senate Finance Committee about the high cost of prescription drugs. We live-tweeted the hearing, elevating our recent release on Big Pharma’s extractive behavior. “We’re going to see a lot of seemingly well-intentioned senators get mad at pharma CEOs during this hearing over outrageous [drug prices]. And I think it’s a natural reaction. But it’s also, fundamentally, a misguided one. Read my new column to learn why,” tweeted Roosevelt Advocacy and Policy Associate Devin Duffy.