Progressives Need a Power Agenda, Breaking Up Concentrations of Wealth, and Who’s Best for Freedom?

May 10, 2019

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

1. Progressives Need a Power Agenda

There are a lot of 2020 presidential candidates and a lot of big, bold ideas. For Vox, founder and editor-in-chief Ezra Klein says a policy agenda is not enough: Democrats need a power agenda. Concentration of power is the problem, so redistribution of power is the policy.” Lifting New Rules for the 21st Century, Klein explores the fact that the American economy rewards those who have power. We need structural change. “That’s where Democrats need to listen to the Roosevelt Institute: Our policy problems are downstream from our power problems, and so the best way to fix policy is to start by fixing power.”

2. How to Fix Capitalism

In The Guardian, Brookings Senior Fellow Richard Reeves released nine expert solutions for our broken economic system. (We’d cut #8.) Proposals include ensuring that workers share in corporate success, busting the myth that inequality is inevitable, and providing a living wage. Roosevelt’s Nell Abernathy, Darrick Hamilton, and Julie Margetta Morgan closed it out by explaining why it’s time to break up extreme concentrations of wealth. “Our economy rewards those with power. But now America’s political landscape is shifting. Social movements and labor unions are confronting racial, gender, environmental, and economic injustice head on. We have an opportunity to make a fundamental course-correction.”

3. Dismantle Facebook

In a New York Times essay, Roosevelt Senior Advisor and Economic Security Project Co-Chair Chris Hughes calls for breaking up Facebook—which he co-founded—to dismantle its power. “Facebook has become too big and too powerful, and it’s part of a trend in our economy of an increasing concentration of corporate power,” he tweeted. “We can fix this: break the company up and regulate it.” Hughes later provided a recommended reading list for those who want to learn more about corporate concentration and breaking up monopolies, which included #NewRules21C as well as Democracy Against Domination by Sabeel Rahman, president of Demos and a former Roosevelt fellow.

4. The Case for the Digital Platform Act

Digital platforms like Facebook play a central role in the economy and Americans’ everyday lives. In partnership with Public Knowledge (PK), Roosevelt released The Case for the Digital Platform Act: Market Structure and Regulation of Digital Platforms on Wednesday, an ebook by PK Senior Vice President Harold Feld. Offering a regulatory toolkit for competition, Feld provides a framework for the ongoing digital platforms debate. “You’d be shortchanging yourself by not reading the book of such a principled advocate,” said Forbes contributor Hal Singer in his book review. Download the ebook here.

5. Right or Left: Who’s Best for Freedom?

Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong joined a special live taping of Left, Right & Center from the Milken Institute Global Conference, where the panel debated whether conservatives or progressives are better for freedom. For the last 50 years, policymakers have funneled money and power to the top while public power was stunted, all in the name of rightwing-based ideology that promised “freedom” and “choice.” We argue that a government that upholds the ideals of our democracy and combats inequality can bring true freedom and liberty to the American people. “If you want to be free in a group of people, you must have voice, you must have agency, you must be able to fully participate,” said Wong.

What We’re Reading

We’ve launched a new weekly series called, “Roosevelt Must-Reads,” which elevates 3-5 stories that Roosevelt staff find important, illuminating, or interesting. Roosevelt Fellows Katy Milani and Rakeen Mabud were the first two to share, and Roosevelt Communications Director Kendra Bozarth is up today. Check out our website or follow us on Twitter for the latest edition each week.