Remembering Héctor Figueroa, Young People Continue to Lead the Way, and Resetting the Debate on Monetary Policy

July 26, 2019

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

1. Remembering Héctor Figueroa

In a guest contribution for On Labor, Roosevelt Fellow Brishen Rogers pays tribute to the late Héctor Figueroa, former president of the Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Roger’s former colleague and forever mentor in the labor movement. As Rogers writes, Figueroa was a clear-eyed tactician whose on-the-ground leadership and personal investment in his workers—and all workers—furthered the labor and civil rights movements. “But Héctor was more than an effective organizer. He had, and he imparted, a compelling vision of a better America… His untimely death is an enormous loss for today’s freedom movements. And he will be missed.”

2. Young People Continue to Lead the Way

As outlined in their reports, Roosevelt Network Emerging Fellows Tarun Ramesh and Karl Meakin seek to address two of the most pressing issues of our time: the opioid crisis and climate change. On climate, Roosevelt Network Director Katie Kirchner and Roosevelt Fellow Mark Paul applaud Meakin for acting locally in the absence of higher leadership: “[Y]oung people like Karl are reclaiming the power to define their own futures and rewrite the future of our planet.” Roosevelt Network Program Manager Fernanda Nogueira and Roosevelt Fellow Katy Milani connect Ramesh’s work to our extractive pharmaceutical industry: “As advocates build better systems and institutions that support those in need, they should also set their sights on reining in Big Pharma.”

3. A Reset for the Monetary Policy Debate

Earlier this month, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testified before the House Financial Services Committee, ultimately making a dramatic departure from the consensus that has long guided macroeconomic policy in the United States. In a new issue brief, Roosevelt Fellow JW Mason outlines the key parts of Powell’s testimony that mark a clear break with conventional wisdom—and that mirror what Roosevelt has been saying for yearsUntil recently, the Fed did not view efforts to address inequality as part of its responsibilities. This shift in the central bank’s perspective is a welcomed development—especially for people at the back of the hiring line.

4. Changing the Rules of a Changing Economy

From algorithmic scheduling to the rise of gig work, technological change and globalized trade are reshaping both the workplace and the economy at large. As Roosevelt Fellow Rakeen Mabud argues in “Rightsizing the Workplace,” these trends, left unchecked, could reinforce the skewed power dynamics already leaving millions of workers behindFor the blog, RI Senior Program Associate Jess Forden explains why this matters: “Mabud elevates what few others do: that technological change and globalized trade are neither explicitly forces of good nor of evil. Rather, without new rules, the changes they bring will amplify the glaring inequities and existing weaknesses in our current system.”

5. Putting a Stop to Excessive CEO Pay

Yesterday, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), alongside Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), reintroduced the Stop Subsidizing Multimillion Dollar Corporate Bonuses Act. Closing a major loophole in corporate tax law, the bill would end tax deductions for huge CEO bonuses. In 2013, Roosevelt Fellow Susan R. Holmberg elevated the consequences of this performance pay provision tax loophole, which has led to sky-high executive compensation. To better understand the CEO pay debate—including the harm runaway bonuses impose on workers, businesses, and our economy at large—read Roosevelt’s 2014 primer from Holmberg

What We’re Reading

In “Everyone Claims They’re Worried About Global Finance. But Only One Side Has a Plan” for the New York Times, Quinn Slobodian and Alexander Kentikelenis outline how progressives—by “democratizing finance”—are pushing for structural change that will position workers to receive a fair share of corporate profits. One reform effort elevated in the op-ed cites work by Roosevelt Senior Economist Lenore Palladino: “Common Wealth in Britain and the Roosevelt Institute in the United States … have broken new ground by suggesting that employees could receive small stakes in the corporate dividends that normally only go to executives and stockholders.”