Beyond Neoliberalism

January 17, 2020

A new progressive worldview is emerging.

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

The Rise of New Progressivism

For five decades, neoliberal dogma has dominated our politics and policymaking and left millions of Americans behind; today, a new—and inclusive—worldview is ascendant. In a report released this week, Roosevelt President & CEO Felicia Wong reviews the work of over 150 progressive thinkers across a range of disciplines and demonstrates the overlapping strands—and tensions—of new progressivism. “That new progressive worldview envisions a global economy unencumbered by corporate dominance and reinvigorated by newly empowered voices. New progressivism takes seriously the power of government to do good in many ways—to set guardrails and rules for the market; to provide goods and services directly; to set economic goals and catalyze change,” Wong writes. “It is essential, in the new worldview, that government be designed with public concerns in mind, and that it work for the public good.” Read on.

  • Why this matters: As Wong explains in an interview with Vox’s Emily Stewart, progressives aren’t the only ones with post-neoliberal policy ambitions. “One version of the post-neoliberal future is anti-corporate, but it’s also white nationalist and racially exclusionary,” Wong says. And tempting as it may seem to some, a return to normalcy is neither possible nor desirable: “Basically, the current system is vacuuming too many resources to the top, so even if you’re going back to normal with respect to how we do politics, there is no going backward, there is no normal that is going to solve our problems.” Read the exclusive from Vox.

Happy Birthday, Roosevelt Network!

In Atlanta this past weekend, the Roosevelt Network marked its 15th birthday in style, celebrating its history with students, alumni, and staff—and preparing for the pivotal election year ahead. Southern Economic Advancement Project Executive Director Stacey Abrams delivered keynote remarks. “I’m here to celebrate with you today because you are emblematic of what is possible in our nation,” Abrams said. “In the work that you do, the lives that you live, the future that lies ahead of you, it is insufficient to simply write rules. We have to write rules together.”

Why We Need Public Investment

“Many top economists are coming around to the belief that it’s acceptable, even preferable, for the United States government to spend more money, even if it means increasing the nation’s $23 trillion debt,” economics correspondent Heather Long writes for the Washington Post. “I think average Americans know what economists have been figuring out over the last decade, which is actually [that] we need more public spending and public investment in order to grow the economy,” Roosevelt Vice President for Strategy and Policy Nell Abernathy said on CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning. “And the kinds of plans we’re talking about—investing in children, investing in health care, adapting to climate change—these are the kinds of long-term investments that set us up to be successful in the 21st century.” Learn more in Roosevelt’s spending factsheet.

The Empirical Failures of Neoliberalism

A second new Roosevelt report, authored by Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal, Director of Advocacy and Policy Katy Milani, and Executive Assistant Ariel Evans, debunks common neoliberal assumptions and arguments and outlines how neoliberalism has failed to deliver on promises of economic equality, mobility, and growth for all. “The task now is to flesh out policy alternatives and examine how these new, bold policies would be best carried out—an endeavor that requires a new framework for how we examine the economy,” they write. Read more.

Moving Beyond Neoliberalism

This week in Washington, DC, Roosevelt heralded the launch of the two new reports with a “Moving Beyond Neoliberalism” event and panel featuring Wong, Konczal, New York Times opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie, and Wellesley College historian Quinn Slobodian. Omidyar Network principal (and former Roosevelt Network National Director) Joelle Gamble moderated the panel discussion. “I believe that we have a once-in-a-generation chance to break the ideological constraints that have empowered extractive private actors and whose ideas have become the obstacles to building a better world,” said Wong. “A progressive alternative to neoliberalism is gaining traction.” Watch the discussion here.

What We’re Reading

FDR Got It. Most Democrats Don’t. – New York Times

One Astounding Chart Shows How the Death of the Union Has Made Economic Inequality Worse – Markets Insider

It Matters That Elizabeth Warren Is a Woman. Why Do So Many on the Left Insist That It Doesn’t? – TIME

The Other Swing Voter – The Atlantic

Why College Should Be Free – Jacobin

The New US Trade Deal Is Climate Sabotage – The New Republic

When the Green New Deal Goes Global – Foreign Policy