The Promise of Baby Bonds

August 28, 2020

Make capital a birthright.

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

How Baby Bonds Could Reduce the Racial Wealth Gap

In another tragic week, which began with the shooting of Jacob Blake and saw the murder of two protestors, a landmark New Jersey proposal provided a glimmer of hope. Gov. Phil Murphy’s (NJ) baby bonds initiative builds on the work of Roosevelt Fellow Darrick Hamilton and Senior Fellow William “Sandy” Darity Jr. and would grant $1,000 to the children of families making less than $131,000 a year. That money, plus interest, would be accessible to children when they turn 18 and could begin to address racial wealth inequality. “The source of inequality generally is that some young adults have capital and others do not,” Hamilton tells the New York Times. “This is saying: Irrespective to the family you are born into, that you have a birthright to capital when you become an adult.” Read on.


Win the Green New Deal

Hurricane Laura and California’s wildfires are the latest natural disasters in a season full of them—and the latest reminder that government must do far more to prepare for and mitigate the climate crisis. In a new book of essays, the Sunrise Movement outlines how to do it. Featuring pieces by Roosevelt Climate Director Rhiana Gunn-Wright and Roosevelt Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz, Winning the Green New Deal: Why We Must, How We Can provides the roadmap activists and policymakers need for the pivotal decade to come.


Renew the Civil Service

The two million civilians employed by the federal government play a vital role in solving challenges like racial injustice and climate change, but years of anti-government action and deliberate bureaucratic decay have sidelined and weakened them. In a new report from the Great Democracy Initiative, Rudy Mehrbani, Tess Byars, and Louis Katz propose three recommendations to structurally reform the federal personnel system.


Help Midsize Businesses

“When the Fed announced its intent to create the [Main Street Lending] Program in April, it said the Treasury’s $75 billion investment would support up to $600 billion in loan purchases. More than four months later, the results are dismal,” Roosevelt Managing Director of Corporate Power Bharat Ramamurti writes in a Bloomberg op-ed. “After first taking three months to set up the program, the Fed has since purchased just $472 million in loans. That’s 0.08% of the $600 billion the Fed had touted.” As he told the Wall Street Journal, “This is on Congress a little bit, because Congress didn’t say clearly in the CARES Act . . . we expect you to invest this money aggressively, and we’re fine with you taking losses.”


What We’re Reading

Black Workers Are More Likely to Be Unemployed but Less Likely to Get Unemployment Benefits – ProPublica

Does Fed Already Have the Power to Tackle Racial Inequality? [feat. Roosevelt’s Mehrsa Baradaran] – American Banker

How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods SwelteringNew York Times

Americans Are Falling through the Safety Net. The Government Is Helping Predatory Lenders Instead. [feat. Baradaran] – Vox

Is This the End for America’s Mom-and-Pop Stores? [feat. Roosevelt’s Darrick Hamilton]Financial Times

In Defense of PopulismColumbia Journalism Review