Pre-K for All’s Lessons for Industrial Policy

June 23, 2023

A blueprint for implementation

The Roosevelt Rundown features our top stories of the week.

Pre-K for All Has a Lot to Teach about Industrial Policy

With implementation now underway for three major Biden-era laws—the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and the CHIPS and Science Act—there’s been renewed enthusiasm about industrial policy’s ability to directly shape markets to better serve Americans.

And policymakers have a great, if unexpected, case study to draw from: New York City’s Pre-K for All program.

Starting in 2014, the program created free, high-quality pre-kindergarten for almost 70,000 four-year-olds in under two years. It was the “forerunner of the ‘new industrial policy,’” says Josh Wallack, who led Pre-K for All implementation efforts at the NYC Department of Education.

In a new Roosevelt report, Wallack looks back at those efforts and draws key lessons for today. And he explores the essential questions of state capacity and democratic participation currently driving industrial policy discourse.

“The tensions of democratic planning in industrial policy play out differently in different domains, with different stakes, actors, and legacy processes,” he writes. “This topic would benefit especially from case histories from those various fields, and an epistemically humble, ground-up approach to conclusions.”

Read more in Childcare as Industrial Policy Blueprint: Lessons from New York City’s Pre-K for All Implementation.


Fascism Disguised as Freedom

What do people mean when they talk about freedom? Throughout history, that question has often had dark answers, as Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jefferson Cowie explains in a new How to Save a Country episode.

“Going all the way back to Athenian democracy is the freedom to enslave, the freedom to oppress, the freedom to dominate,” he tells hosts Felicia Wong and Michael Tomasky.

In his book, Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power—which won the 2023 Pulitzer for History—Cowie argues that this kind of freedom is deeply American, and explores the story of one place that exemplifies it: Barbour County, Alabama.

Cowie takes Wong and Tomasky on a journey through the county’s history, highlighting the treatment of the Muscogee Nation, political dynamics during the Reconstruction Era, and the political career of four-time Alabama governor and Barbour County native George Wallace.

And later, the trio discuss the present-day fight over freedom, and the role historians have in this moment of political instability.

Listen now, and follow for next Thursday’s finale episode.


The Future of the Global Minimum Corporate Tax

Two years ago, G7 leaders announced an agreement that included a historic 15 percent global minimum tax rate on multinational corporations.

That consensus has appeared to erode since, with the US Congress rejecting the approach last year and other countries exploring unilateral or regional arrangements.

“The fact that countries are taking matters into their own hands speaks to the fragility of the current consensus and the need for more reforms,” Roosevelt Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz and Tommaso Faccio write.

“World leaders should . . . agree to a new, more inclusive round of negotiations to deliver a more equitable and sustainable global tax reform.”

Read more from Stiglitz and Faccio.


What We’re Reading and Listening to

Unions Can Ensure Robust Industrial Policy Doesn’t Damage Communities [by Roosevelt’s Suzanne Kahn] [paywall] – Washington Post

The Death of “Deliverism” [co-authored by Roosevelt’s Shahrzad Shams and senior fellow Deepak Bhargava]Democracy Journal

Why This Economist Wants to Give Every Poor Child $50,000 [podcast episode feat. Roosevelt senior fellow Darrick Hamilton]The Ezra Klein Show

Student Loan Forgiveness and Payment Pause: What’s Happening and What Will Biden Do?Teen Vogue