About That Trump Budget

February 21, 2020

The economy needs more public investment, not less.

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

The Trump Budget Would Be an Economic Calamity

President Trump’s 2021 budget could push the American economy to the brink of recession, Roosevelt Fellow Michael Linden argues in an op-ed for CNN Business. But the greatest concern is the long-term damage that massive public spending cuts and deepening inequality will wreak. American workers and consumers “need public support and strong foundations to ensure that private concentrations of wealth and power don’t distort the economy to the advantage of the ultra-wealthy,” Linden writes. “Trump’s budget slashes at those very foundations: education, health care, research and development. The result would be both a less productive workforce and less consumer demand, producing a weaker economy overall, with the already-rich capturing most of the gains.” Read on.

  • Another angle: “We don’t see an investment boom. We’re not seeing innovation. New businesses are at their lowest rate on record,” Roosevelt Vice President of Strategy and Managing Director for Climate and Economic Transformation Nell Abernathy said on CNBC’s Squawk Box this week. “I think we would do well to see some serious rethinking of how we govern corporate America.” Watch here.
  • New progressivism: Our 21st century economy needs big ideas to equalize power. As a New York Times piece explains, economists Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez have changed the 2020 policy landscape with their work on wealth taxes, which they say would reduce inequality and help fund public goods like universal health care and free college. “It’s a very different debate, and now we’re having it on Saez and Zucman’s terms,” Roosevelt President & CEO Felicia Wong tells the NYTRead on.

The Flawed Economics of PAYGO

Facing once-in-a-generation challenges, including the climate crisis and crumbling infrastructure, the US must also tackle a major budgeting roadblock: PAYGO (or “pay as you go”). As the Roosevelt Institute and Congressional Progressive Caucus Center write in a new factsheet, this congressional budget rule “requires any legislation that raises spending on entitlement programs or cuts taxes to be offset with either tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere in the budget”—a misguided approach to debt and deficits that “make[s] it harder for policymakers to deploy expansionary fiscal policy, even when the economy desperately needs more demand.” Read more.

Clean Slate for Worker Power

In a New York Times Magazine piece, Emily Bazelon charts the history of the National Labor Relations Act, the National Labor Relations Board, and business attacks on unions. The solution: a worker power agenda. “In January, Clean Slate for Worker Power, a coalition of more than 70 participants from labor, academia and nonprofit organizations brought together by Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program, released proposed reforms that would extend the NLRA’s protections to agricultural and domestic workers as well as independent contractors and also give all workers a say in how companies are run.” Read on.

How the Black Panthers Paved the Way for New Progressivism

As Roosevelt Fellow Naomi Zewde writes for the blog, new progressivism owes much to the trailblazing example of the original Black Panther Party’s 10-point program. From a federal job guarantee to universal basic income, many current progressive policy priorities trace their origins to the 1960’s and ’70’s movement. “As we should remember this Black History Month—and every month—Black Americans have had a remarkable vantage point from which to view the importance of equity, good society, and reliable social programs. New progressivism in the 21st century would not be the same without their historic leadership.” Read more.

What We’re Reading

America’s Monopoly Problem, Explained by Your Internet Bill – Vox

The Vast Undercount of Gaps in American Internet Access – CityLab

State of Working America Wages 2019 – Economic Policy Institute

What 4 Years of Trump’s Transportation Budgets Add up To – CityLab

8 Radical Ideas for a More Equal America – Time

Making the Climate Emergency the Story of the 2020 Elections – The Nation