What Day One Looks Like
November 13, 2020
By Matt Hughes
A progressive to-do list for the transition and beyond.
The Roosevelt Rundown is an email series featuring the Roosevelt Institute’s top stories of the week.
Note: The Roosevelt Rundown will be on hiatus until December 4.
Personnel Is Policy
When President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20, he’ll need an administration staffed and equipped to meet this moment: to confront the still-raging health and economic crises of COVID-19, climate change, and systemic racism with transformative thinking and structural solutions.
The appointment of Roosevelt experts to agency review teams this week is a vital first step.
- Roosevelt Fellow Mehrsa Baradaran and board member Lisa Cook will serve in the Federal Reserve, Banking, and Securities Regulators group, with Baradaran also serving in the Department of Treasury group.
- Roosevelt Director of Governance Studies Todd Tucker will work on both the Department of Commerce and Office of the United States Trade Representative teams.
“There are about 4,000 presidential appointees, and we are trying to get as many in on day one as possible,” Roosevelt President & CEO Felicia Wong—and member of the transition advisory board—told TIME. “. . . the clarity of messaging is really important: This is what we’re here to do, this is what we’re going to do, these are the tools to do it, even given the uncertainty.”
The Next Stimulus Package
As Wong told Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio this week, a much-needed new relief plan will be an early priority:
“It will . . . include stronger unemployment insurance. It’ll include an improved mechanism for helping small businesses, maybe through rent relief, maybe through more funding to keep workers on payroll. And I think it will also include funding for state governments and for city governments, which of course are under such crisis. That crisis, that economic crisis, is only going to get worse as the winter wears on.”
It’s crucial, though, that any stimulus package be designed with a climate-forward approach.
“There is no such thing as climate-neutral policy—measures either help or hurt. This moment of crisis is a rare opportunity to fix the future by healing the present,” Roosevelt Director of Climate Policy Rhiana Gunn-Wright told Bloomberg Green’s Eric Roston. “We need to start now and apply . . . [Green New Deal] principles to everything that moves.”
Read more from Gunn-Wright in “The 41 Things Biden Should Do First on Climate Change.”
Cancel Student Debt
Though the Senate’s composition won’t be known until January, “there’s a tremendous amount that can be done without Congress,” Wong told the New York Times. One immediate action item: $50,000 to $75,000 in student debt relief for low- and moderate-income people, which would boost the economy and disproportionately benefit Black and brown debt-holders.
Amid a weak and unequal recovery, debt relief has become a necessity, as Roosevelt’s Suzanne Kahn explains to MarketWatch: “It might have felt like a nice-to-have nine months ago; now I think there are real questions of if we can afford not to do it.”