It’s Time to Transform

January 15, 2021

In 2021, we can’t afford to limit our ambitions.

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

The Case for a True New Deal

President-elect Joe Biden’s newly unveiled $1.9 trillion stimulus plan would be a major leap forward, and an immediate salve for those who’ve suffered the worst of this pandemic.

In the coming months, millions of people—including tipped workers—could receive a higher minimum wage. They could receive their COVID vaccine soon, and for free. They could receive the funds they need to sustain their livelihoods and take paid leave when they need to. And state and local governments could get the relief necessary to function and maintain payrolls.

More durable and structural changes—automatic stabilizers, heavier investment in green stimulus, recurring cash payments—could and should be on the horizon. 

As Biden noted last week, we can’t afford to spend too little. “Every major economist thinks we should be investing in deficit spending in order to generate economic growth,” he told reporters. “If we don’t act now, things will get much worse and harder to get out of the hole later. So we have to invest now . . . There’s a dire, dire need to act now.”

This moment demands big thoughts, bold solutions, and equitable systems. It demands new policy frameworks and real transformation: in short, a True New Deal.

On Pitchfork Economics, Bharat Ramamurti—incoming deputy director of the Biden administration’s National Economic Council—chatted with Nick Hanauer and David Goldstein about Roosevelt’s True New Deal report, which proposes nine essential policies to address the COVID crisis and restructure our economy. Listen here.


End the Filibuster

Achieving the necessary scale of change won’t be possible if the historically racist and anti-worker filibuster is preserved. In a new issue brief, Roosevelt Program Manager Emily DiVito 

examines nearly 700 failed cloture votes since 1947, and identifies a set of bills—aimed at boosting worker power or checking corporate misconduct—that would likely have passed if not for the filibuster.

Read more in “How the Filibuster Has Hurt Workers and Protected Corporate Influence.”


Freedom from the Market

In his just-released book, Freedom from the Market: America’s Fight to Liberate Itself from the Grip of the Invisible Hand, Roosevelt Director of Progressive Thought Mike Konczal traces the history of the US relationship with markets and charts the path to freedom.

“This book argues that true freedom requires keeping us free from the market. In some places this will require the government to provide key services directly and universally, rather than requiring citizens to rely on the marketplace,” Konczal writes.

“Elsewhere it will mean suppressing the extent of the market, such as the number of hours we work or the ability of business to discriminate against their customers . . . But in all cases market dependency is a profound state of unfreedom, and freedom requires checks and hard boundaries on the ways markets exist in our society and in our lives.”

In a Boston Review op-ed, Konczal explains why time is the universal measure of freedom.


What We’re Reading

Whither America? [by Roosevelt’s Joseph Stiglitz] – Project Syndicate

The Capitol Rioters Weren’t “Low Class”The Atlantic

Biden Can Fight Climate Change, Guarantee Housing, and Halve Poverty—without the GOP – Vox

Voters Support Massive Deficit Financed Investments in the Economy [feat. Konczal] – Data for Progress