Reimagining Higher Education, #NewRules21C for Big Pharma, and Progressive Capitalism

April 26, 2019

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

1. Student Debt Enters the 2020 Policy Debate

Adding to a robust presidential campaign, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced her plan to level the playing field in higher education and the economy more broadly. To address the $1.5 trillion student debt crisis, Warren wants to eliminate $50,000 in debt for anyone earning $100,000 a year or less. A bold “reimagining of higher education,” she also wants to provide free public college and more support for low-income and minority students. Roosevelt Fellow Julie Margetta Morgan reminded us that we rewrite the rules for high-powered actors in America’s higher education system, including loan servicers. We can and should do better for borrowers.

2. #NewRules21C for Big Pharma

On Thursday, Pfizer’s board of directors met for the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Despite being one of the most profitable companies on the planet—generating over $11 billion in profits in 2018—Pfizer continues to raise prices on its prescription drugs. For STAT, People’s Action Director George Goehl and Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong explain extractive decision-making within the pharmaceutical industry—and how a progressive one-two punch can ensure that Big Pharma puts patients before profit: “[W]e have a chance to create a society in which having fair and affordable access to the life-improving medicines people need supersedes outlandish profit for a few.”

3. People, Power, and Profits

On Tuesday, Roosevelt Chief Economist and Senior Fellow Joseph E. Stiglitz released People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of DiscontentPublished by W.W. Norton & Company, the book challenges policymakers, media, and the public at large to reject the decades-old notion that “free” markets will deliver prosperity to all, and it calls on the American people to reclaim our economy. Stiglitz joined Democracy Now! to explain why the economic policy choices of the last 50 years have worked against most of us. Ultimately, People, Power, and Profits demands that we tame capitalism and restructure it in bold, progressive ways so that it serves society as a whole—not just the few at the top.

4. Progressive Capitalism Is Not an Oxymoron

And for the New York Times, Stiglitz explains how we can fight today’s market power crisis and save America’s broken economy from itself. In “Progressive Capitalism Is Not an Oxymoron,” he argues that we can restructure markets and make them work better for the benefit of us all. “We need regulations that ensure strong competition without abusive exploitation, realigning the relationship between corporations and the workers they employ and the customers they are supposed to serve,” he writes. “We must be as resolute in combating market power as the corporate sector is in increasing it.”

5. The $5 Trillion Questions

In “Want to Expand Medicare? Then Answer the $5 Trillion Questions.” for The Nation, Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal explores two questions that need to be answered in the Medicare for All debate “before we start seeing the path to sweeping reform”: How do advocates take on the medical establishment and pay doctors less; and if inflated medical rates remain, who will bear the new taxes? “Building arguments and analyses along these lines will help us figure out what kind of coalition we can form to expand health care to everyone,” says Konczal. “The momentum is growing, but with that progress comes the need to answer the $5 trillion questions.”

What We’re Reading

Roosevelt’s Joseph E. Stiglitz has taken #rewritetherules abroad. In Rewriting the Rules of the European Economy, Stiglitz and a team of expert scholars and politicians assess what ails Europe and what can be done to restore more equitable and inclusive economic growth. Learn more and watch last month’s pre-launch book event here.