The Next Stimulus

December 18, 2020

Today is only a start.

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 January 8. Have a safe and happy holiday season, and see you back here in 2021!

The Case for Progressive Stimulus

Today’s possible stimulus agreement—long overdue and short on necessary relief—misses the mark. 

As the COVID crisis rages into a new year, long-term unemployed people, struggling Black and brown communities, and cash-strapped state and local governments will need more support. 

In a new suite of issue briefs, Roosevelt experts outline the way forward.

Two key principles should shape future stimulus spending, Roosevelt’s Suzanne Kahn writes in the foreword to the briefs: 

  1. “Stimulus dollars must be large enough and long-lasting enough to effect structural changes to our economy and public institutions”; and
  2. “Funds should be conditioned on states and other recipient institutions implementing policies that actively fight corporate concentration, empower workers, dismantle racist institutions, and decarbonize our economy, along with other progressive priorities.”


As Roosevelt Fellow J.W. Mason argues in Preventing Another Lost Decade: Why Large Federal Deficits Should Be Welcomed, Not Feared, in Today’s Economy, the central problem in today’s economy is too little spending. 

In A Green COVID-19 Recovery: Lessons from the ARRA, Roosevelt Director of Climate Policy Rhiana Gunn-Wright and Senior Research Associate Kristina Karlsson explore what the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act can teach policymakers crafting climate-minded stimulus today. 

And in A True New Deal for Higher Education, Kahn, Jennifer Mittelstadt, and Lisa Levenstein discuss how stimulus can be designed to universalize access and remediate racial inequality in higher ed.

A common thread: In rescuing our economy in the near term, we can and must invest in longer-term, more equitable prosperity.


The Embedded Policy Choices of AI

Artificial intelligence is here to stay. And as the federal government increasingly deploys private AI technology across agencies, ethics-driven procurement policy will be vital. David S. Rubenstein explains in a new Great Democracy Initiative paper:

“AI systems are embedded with value-laden trade-offs between what is technically feasible, socially acceptable, economically viable, and legally permissible. Thus, without intervention, the government will be acquiring technology with embedded policies from private actors whose financial motivations and legal sensitivities may not align with the government or the people it serves.” 

Read Rubenstein’s recommendations in Federal Procurement of Artificial Intelligence: Perils and Possibilities.


Building Worker Power

“Expecting workforce development to reduce US inequality is largely a matter of wishful thinking,” Kahn, Roosevelt Fellow Suresh Naidu, and labor economist Aaron Sojourner write in a Nonprofit Quarterly op-ed.

“Reversing rising income inequality requires investing in programs that pay attention to market conditions and workers’ bargaining power, so that workers can command a larger share of the value that their productive labor generates.” 

Learn more in Naidu and Sojourner’s Employer Power and Employee Skills: Understanding Workforce Training Programs in the Context of Labor Market Power.


What We’re Reading

Whatever Congress Does on Stimulus, Millions of Workers Are Already Screwed – Vox

“No One Should Get Fired on a Whim”: Fast Food Workers Win More Job SecurityNew York Times

“We Must Treat a Crisis like a Crisis”: What 2020 Has Taught Us about the Climate Emergency [feat. Roosevelt’s Rhiana Gunn-Wright]Vogue

Biden Studies FDR’s Presidential Transition for Guidance – NPR

What Biden Can Do to Boost the Economy without Any Help from Congress [feat. Roosevelt’s Bharat Ramamurti]Mother Jones