Reimagining Social Insurance

May 29, 2020

A more humane economy requires greater economic security.

We at Roosevelt are mourning the continued assault on Black lives, from COVID-19, police brutality, and beyond. We stand in solidarity with you.

How Unemployment Insurance Supports Economic Freedom

The CARES Act’s expansion of the unemployment insurance system—though flawed—has been vital for the more than 40 million workers who’ve lost their jobs in the last 10 weeks. Extending that expansion before it expires in July is both an urgent moral imperative and a first step in reimagining an unjust system, as Roosevelt Director of Progressive Thought Mike Konczal writes for The Nation: “If it continues to be extended, more people will understand that it could and should be expanded even further, especially to those workers whom our social insurance system doesn’t cover well. Finding a way to provide economic security to our fractured labor force is one of the central goals of our time. Unemployment insurance will be part of that solution, and that’s why it is worth fighting for.” Read more.

  • Another angle: “What I would really like to see is publically funded jobs, jobs that could be paid for by the federal government but administered locally,” Roosevelt President & CEO Felicia Wong tells Marketplace. “Let’s put the people who need work together with the jobs that need to be done.” Listen here.
  • Protecting workers and consumers: Next Monday at 8pm, a digital roundtable led by the Center for Popular Democracy and Demand Justice—and featuring Roosevelt Director of Governance Studies Todd Tucker—will analyze what’s at stake in the coming Supreme Court battle over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Sign up here. And on June 4 at 12 noon ET, Greenlight Bookstore will host Wong and Roosevelt Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz for a Zoom conversation about solutions to the COVID-19 economic crisis, our government’s insufficient responses thus far, and Stiglitz’s latest book, People, Power, and ProfitsRegister now.

The Glaring Holes of Congress’s Response

In a Q&A with The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner, Roosevelt Managing Director of Corporate Power Bharat Ramamurti explains how the government’s crisis response has favored larger businesses and what Congress can do now to help struggling workers. As Ramamurti writes for the blog, agencies implementing the CARES Act can and should be ensuring that relief for big businesses carries the same conditions as for small businesses—including employee retention requirements. “If the government’s goal is to minimize layoffs and stabilize the economy, its aid to bigger companies should come with the kind of inducements to help workers it included in the aid it provided to smaller companies,” he writes. “The Treasury and the Fed have the discretion under the CARES Act to make this change. If they don’t make these reforms, they should have to explain why we should trust big businesses more than small businesses to do right by their workers.” Read on.

  • The hidden rules of race: This week, Michelle Holder (assistant professor of economics at John Jay College, City University of New York) appeared on CNN to discuss the unique challenges facing minority-owned businesses during the COVID crisis.

The Case for Student Debt Cancellation and Free College

“As long as student debt is serving as a drag on our economy, everyone is paying for it, and the country can no longer afford not to act,” Roosevelt education expert Suzanne Kahn argues in a Wall Street Journal point-counterpoint. But “debt cancellation alone isn’t enough to ensure this crisis won’t repeat itself. To bring down student-debt levels permanently, we need to pair a one-time cancellation with free, public higher education.” Read more.

The Crisis Is Making Racial Inequality Worse

As Roosevelt Senior Fellow Sandy Darity and folklorist Kirsten Mullen tell NPR’s Planet Money, COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Black communities only strengthens the argument for reparations. Next week, Darity and Mullen will release a new Roosevelt report that expands on their new book (From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century); discusses global and domestic precedents for reparation programs; including for 9/11 and Sandy Hook victims; and offers revisions for HR 40, the 30-year-old reparations committee bill.

What We’re Reading

Why the Small Business Rescue Program Has Slowed Way Down – NPR

The Vital Missing Piece of the Democrats’ Stimulus Bill – Vox

This Summer Will Scar Young Americans for Life – The Atlantic

Should the Child Care Industry Get a Bailout? – New York Times

[Roosevelt’s] Todd Tucker: The Green New Deal Has an International Law Problem – Progressive International

Walmart Workers Are Dying from the Coronavirus. Now They Want a Seat at the Table. – New York Magazine