Extending the UI Supplement Is the Priority

July 31, 2020

Here’s what else government can do now.

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

The UI Supplement Is Necessary for Recovery

On the heels of the worst economic quarter in American history, the $600-a-week unemployment insurance (UI) supplement preventing financial ruin for millions is now likely to plummet to $200. As Groundwork Collaborative Executive Director and Roosevelt Fellow Michael Linden writes in a CNN Business op-ed, the argument for gutting UI doesn’t add up: “What’s preventing people from going back to work is [not UI but] that there aren’t enough jobs . . . What’s preventing people from going back to work is that some work is still unsafe, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the nation. What’s preventing people from going back to work is a lack of childcare and the inability of schools to reopen safely.” Read on.

This week on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Michigan State University economist and Roosevelt board member Lisa Cook explained how reductions to unemployment benefits could harm the economy.

Unsurprisingly, the effects may fall hardest upon Black and Latinx women; per a new survey conducted by PerryUndem and commissioned by the Time’s Up Foundation, 51 percent of Latinx women and 48 percent of Black women already lack the money to cover fundamental expenses like food and housing.

Congress Must Do More to Rebalance Workplace Power

“While COVID-19 has destabilized life and work in unpredictable ways, the imbalance of power in the workplace is within Congress’s control,” Roosevelt Director of Education, Jobs, and Worker Power Suzanne Kahn and Senior Manager of Editorial Strategy Matt Hughes write for the blog. After extending the UI supplement, they argue, policymakers should pursue three policies to boost worker power in the long term: change the definition of suitable employment; create sector-based, labor-management commissions; and make workplaces more transparent and democratic. Read more.

Expand the Consumer Safety Net

Ten years after Dodd–Frank created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the agency’s full powers remain untapped; in a new report from the Great Democracy Initiative (GDI), Graham Steele explains how the CFPB can use its legal authority to expand the consumer safety net—with three critical reforms. “Constructing a consumer safety net requires an understanding that people actually bear very little responsibility for the financial challenges that befall them,” Steele writes in a Barron’s op-ed about the report. “It also requires a CFPB led by public servants who are willing to use their existing legal authorities to aggressively protect people from a predatory financial industry.”

For more on Dodd-Frank’s potential, read Steele’s “A Regulatory Green Light: How Dodd-Frank Can Address Wall Street’s Role in the Climate Crisis.”

Climate Justice Means Systemic Change

“If communities of color are consistently disempowered, there will always be a place to burn fossil fuels. There will always be people you can poison,” Roosevelt Director of Climate Policy Rhiana Gunn-Wright tells Bloomberg Green in an interview. “We’re in the midst of a recession, a public health emergency, climate change, a political emergency on lots of levels. People are talking about systems change. They are saying something is rotten here. I don’t think there’s an actual path for anything other than policies that seek to address injustice and climate at the same time.” Read more.

Rescheduled: Hidden Rules of Wealth and the Role of Reparations

On Wednesday, August 5, 2020, at 3 pm ET, join Roosevelt President & CEO Felicia Wong, Community Change President Dorian Warren, and Sandy Darity—Roosevelt Senior Fellow and Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies—for a webinar discussion of how the hidden rules of race have driven today’s wealth inequality—and why reparations are a critical and powerful tool to move forward. Register now.

What We’re Reading

The US Economy Just Shrank at a Record Pace (and That’s the Good News)New York Magazine

As the Pandemic Forced Layoffs, CEOs Gave Up LittleNew York Times

A Wave of Evictions Is Coming. Democrats Are Proposing a Lifeline. – Vox

How US Poverty Could Spike in the Last Half of the Year – Bloomberg CityLab

Over the Unemployment Cliff: Is This the Moment to Fix a Broken System [feat. Roosevelt’s Bharat Ramamurti and Lindsay Owens] – Capital & Main

The Pros and Cons of Reparations [feat. Roosevelt’s Darrick Hamilton] – Freakonomics