Daily Digest - October 17: The False Prophets of the Invisible Hand

Oct 17, 2014Tim Price

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What Markets Will (NYT)

Many economic analysts talk about the market as a kind of divine force, writes Paul Krugman, but they're only using it as an excuse to justify their own desire for more human sacrifice.

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What Markets Will (NYT)

Many economic analysts talk about the market as a kind of divine force, writes Paul Krugman, but they're only using it as an excuse to justify their own desire for more human sacrifice.

AbbVie Board Ditches Planned $55 Billion Shire Acquisition (Reuters)

The pharmaceutical company has abandoned plans to shift its tax base to the U.K., reports Ben Hirschler, because new rules make it harder to dodge U.S. taxes through such inversion schemes.

How the Fed Is Trying to Fill in the Gaps of Monetary Policy (WaPo)

Janet Yellen met with nonprofits and community developers in Chelsea, MA yesterday to discuss how Federal Reserve policy can better support working-class cities, reports Ylan Q. Mui.

Even Red-State Voters Want to Raise the Minimum Wage (The Nation)

Minimum wage increases will be on the ballot this fall in some states that lean heavily Republican, writes John Nichols, despite opposition from the top leadership of the party.

$10.10 Minimum Wage Would Save The U.S. Government $7.6 Billion A Year (HuffPost)

A new study from the Economic Policy Institute shows that a higher minimum wage would allow 1.7 million workers to stop relying on public assistance programs, reports Kevin Short.

Companies Warn That Income Inequality Is Hurting Their Business (ThinkProgress)

An analysis of corporate filings finds that many of the largest U.S. retail companies are concerned that their customers are not earning enough money to support sales, writes Alan Pyke.

The Volcker Rule: How a Simple Idea to Rein In Banks Got Supersized (Bloomberg View)

A straightforward proposal to ban proprietary trading has ballooned to hundreds of pages, leading some to call for the return of Glass-Steagall as an alternative, writes Yalman Onaran.

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Daily Digest - October 16: Can a Nobel Change the FCC's Tactics?

Oct 16, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Nobel-Winning Message for the FCC (Bloomberg View)

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Nobel-Winning Message for the FCC (Bloomberg View)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford asks whether Jean Tirole's new Nobel Prize might convince the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider his work on regulating communications utilities.

Retail Group's Report Aims to Counter Wage 'Misperceptions' (Chicago Tribune)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Annette Bernhardt tells Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz that the National Retail Federation's report is "an astonishing exercise in tautology" that ignores the industry's bad jobs.

Nurses Union: ‘We’ve Been Lied To’ About Ebola Preparedness (MSNBC)

National Nurses United is accusing the Centers for Disease Control of insufficiently training nurses for the front-line work needed to fight this potential epidemic, reports Ned Resnikoff.

Wall Street Might Know Something the Rest of Us Don’t (NYT)

Neil Irwin suggests that current drops in the stock market need not be seen as a sign of another crisis brewing: more likely, the market is falling back in line with the rest of the economy.

When the Workday Never Really Ends (The Nation)

Michelle Chen looks at new research on how so-called flexible scheduling disrupts the lives of low-income workers with "normal unpredictability" in already-precarious industries.

What’s the Punishment for Ripping Off Consumers? (Medium)

The typical regulatory response to large financial institutions lying to customers is a fine, and Felix Salmon says these fines aren't high enough to be an actual punishment or force change.

Gar Alperovitz on Why the New Economy Movement Needs to Think Big (Yes Magazine)

Scott Gast reviews Alperovitz's new book, What Then Must We Do?, in which he lays out the possibility of a new economic system built up from worker cooperatives.

New on Next New Deal

Threat of Ebola Highlights Problems in the U.S. Public Health System

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Health Care Emily Cerciello says the two cases of Ebola transmitted in the U.S. prove the need for improved public health infrastructure and guidelines.

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Threat of Ebola Highlights Problems in the U.S. Public Health System

Oct 15, 2014Emily Cerciello

It is likely that Ebola will be contained in the United States, but errors in Texas show we have room for improvement in responding to public health emergencies.

It is likely that Ebola will be contained in the United States, but errors in Texas show we have room for improvement in responding to public health emergencies.

On October 15, the second case of Ebola transmitted in the United States was confirmed in Texas between patient Thomas Eric Duncan and a health worker. Even more frightening, perhaps, is the sequence of events leading up to the transmission, and the many questions it generates about the preparedness of the U.S. in responding to public health emergencies.

Six days after Duncan arrived in the United States  – having passed a screening for fever at a Liberian airport – his symptoms progressed and he sought care at a Texas hospital, where he was promptly sent home with antibiotics.

The hospital claimed his early discharge was the fault of the electronic health record (EHR) for not communicating the patient’s travel history, but soon issued a correction saying his history was “available to the full care team…there was no flaw in the EHR.”

No matter who or what is at fault for letting Duncan fall through the cracks, we cannot let this huge breach in protocol happen again.

More than a week later, and several days after the patient was confirmed to have Ebola, the apartment at which he was staying with four individuals remained unsterilized. The quarantined family had the responsibility of arranging clean bedding until a waste management company agreed to clean the apartment. When they arrived, contractors wore no protective equipment and used power washers to sanitize – a practice which is likely not the most effective method of treating infectious surfaces.

And then, on October 12, the CDC confirmed that a nurse who had worn full protective gear while treating Duncan had contracted Ebola due to a yet unknown breach in protocol. On, October 15, another nurse who treated Duncan was confirmed to have the virus, showing symptoms just one day after boarding a commercial flight returning from Cleveland to Dallas.

These events point to several issues in the U.S. public health infrastructure: who is in charge when high-stakes infectious diseases spread? How should the U.S. prevent diseases originating in other countries? What can we learn from this case to prevent other errors in the system?

First, we need to decide who, or which agency, is in charge when a public health emergency occurs. Larry Copeland, a reporter at USA Todayagrees. Currently, the CDC provides assistance and guidelines to states and educates providers about how to prepare for Ebola. The choice to enact these protocols and successful operation of these procedures remains with the states. The CDC also issues guidelines to prohibit practitioners who have treated Ebola patients from boarding commercial flights. Separately, the Department of Homeland Security controls issues of air travel, including providing guidance to airlines and calling for symptom screenings at high-profile airports.

So there is no single entity leading the public health response to Ebola. While the CDC may fall into this role, it is up to individual hospitals and practitioners to respond promptly and effectively. Unfortunately, in Texas, several errors – including sending the patient home while infected, delaying sanitation of the patient's apartment, and developing two more confirmed cases – showcase how disorganization in public health can lead to unfavorable outcomes.

And how should the U.S. prevent diseases originating in other countries? Experts agree that closing borders of West African countries would worsen the crisis. Unfortunately, the issue of Ebola as it relates to air travel has become politicized by conservatives, prompting CDC Director Tom Frieden to speak out strongly against a travel banConservative Republicans have even attempted to relate Ebola to anti-immigration reform by claiming that migrants from Central America could bring Ebola through the southern U.S. border (despite the fact that no outbreak of Ebola has ever occurred in Latin America).

In a press conference, Dr. Frieden assured that strong core public health functions could stop the spread of Ebola. Although the CDC and public health workers successfully tracked close contacts of Duncan and isolated those at high risk, those steps could not stop the first incorrect diagnosis or the spread to front-line health workers – arguably the most important role in stopping the epidemic.

The implications of public health slipups cannot be understated. We need to start a conversation about the relationship between federal, state and local public health authorities. We need to simplify and communicate protocols to hospitals and ensure that providers and communities are enacting preparations for infectious diseases. Valuing the field of public health as much as we do individual appointment-based care is essential to stopping an epidemic. We need to organize authority and mobilize an informed and efficient workforce to improve the preparedness of the U.S. health system in responding to public health emergencies.

Emily Cerciello is the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Health Care, and a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Daily Digest - October 15: "Fifteen and a Union" Goes Beyond Fast Food

Oct 15, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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America’s Fastest-Growing Profession is Joining a Very Public Fight for Higher Wages (WaPo)

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America’s Fastest-Growing Profession is Joining a Very Public Fight for Higher Wages (WaPo)

Lydia DePillis looks at the differences in home health aides' fight for "15 and a union" when compared to fast food workers. For one, most home health aides are paid by Medicaid.

Gov. Scott Walker on the Minimum Wage: "I Don't Think It Serves a Purpose" (MoJo)

Andy Kroll places the Wisconsin governor's comments in context with his other remarks opposing the minimum wage, and his state's strong support for an increase.

Can Rehabilitating Prisoners Repair Wall Street’s Broken Reputation? (Buzzfeed)

Matthew Zeitlin questions whether financial products that fund social services are more than just a charm offensive meant to make Wall Street look nicer to the public.

Americans Face Post-Foreclosure Hell as Wages Garnished, Assets Seized (Reuters)

An uptick in "deficiency judgements," in which banks go after debt that wasn't covered by a foreclosure sale, is preventing people from moving forward after the Recession, writes Michelle Conlin.

When the Guy Making Your Sandwich Has a Noncompete Clause (NYT)

Neil Irwin says the noncompete clauses for "sandwich artists" at Jimmy John's typify the trend toward practices and procedures that leave low-wage workers even worse off.

Walmart’s Cuts to Worker Compensation Are Self-Defeating (AJAM)

By raising workers' share of insurance premiums, David Cay Johnston says that Walmart and other companies are only ensuring their own customers have less to spend.

The Real World of Reality TV: Worker Exploitation (In These Times)

David Dayen explains the difficult working conditions of the writers and editors who create "unscripted" reality television in light of one staff's recent push for unionization.

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Daily Digest - October 14: Americans Are Too Vulnerable to Downward Mobility

Oct 14, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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The Age of Vulnerability (Project Syndicate)

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The Age of Vulnerability (Project Syndicate)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz points out that inequality isn't just about lack of upward mobility, but also risk of downward mobility, and the U.S. economy has made people particularly vulnerable.

The Score: Does the Minimum Wage Kill Jobs? (The Nation)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert say the answer is probably no; for one, the states that have raised their minimum wage this year are experiencing higher employment growth.

In Texas and Across the Nation, Abortion Access is a Sign of Women's Well-Being (The Hill)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn and Shulie Eisen connect access to abortion with the larger picture of women's health and economics. States that limit abortion don't do well on related issues either.

Youth Convention Gathers Crowds, Pols Over Brutality, Employment, Immigration, Ed and Transport (The Youth Project)

Jason Mast reports on the NextGen Illinois conference, profiling a few of the student organizers who are pursuing political change in their state now instead of waiting until they're older.

Revenge of the Unforgiven (NYT)

Paul Krugman says an excess of virtue surrounding debt is killing economic growth. Forgiving more debt would increase the other spending needed to kick-start the economy.

Them That's Got Shall Get (TAP)

Nathalie Baptiste follows up on the impact of the foreclosure crisis on black family wealth, focusing on the wealthiest black community in the country: Prince George's County, Maryland.

‘Citizens United’ is Turning More Americans into Bystanders (WaPo)

E.J. Dionne argues that massive independent political spending is turning voters off, as it deepens our divisions and the sense that no one will work together after the election.

New on Next New Deal

Does the USA Really Soak the Rich?

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal says that recent arguments against more progressive taxation use a nonsensical definition in which inequality drives up tax progressivity.

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Does the USA Really Soak the Rich?

Oct 10, 2014Mike Konczal

There's a new argument about taxes: the United States is already far too progressive with taxation, it says, and if we want to build a better, eglitarian future we can't do it through a "soak the rich" agenda. It's the argument of this recent New York Times editorial by Edward D. Kleinbard, and a longer piece by political scientists Cathie Jo Martin and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez at Vox. I'm going to focus on the Vox piece because it is clearer on what they are arguing.

There, the researchers note that the countries “that have made the biggest strides in reducing economic inequality do not fund their governments through soak-the-rich, steeply progressive taxes.” They put up this graphic, based on OECD data, to make this point:

You can quickly see that the concept of "progressivity" is doing all the work here, and I believe the way they are going to use that word will be problematic. What does it mean for Sweden to be one of the least progressive tax state, and the United States the most?

Let’s graph out two ways of soaking the rich. Here’s Rich Uncle Pennybags in America, and Rik Farbror Påse av Mynt in Sweden, as well as their respective tax bureaus:

When average people usually talk about soaking the rich, they are talking about the marginal tax rates the highest income earners pay. But as we can see, in Sweden the rich pay a much higher marginal tax rate. As Matt Bruenig at Demos notes, Sweden definitely taxes its rich much more (he also notes that what they do with those taxes is different than what Vox argues).

At this point many people would argue that our taxes are more progressive because the middle-class in the United States is taxed less than the middle-class in Sweden. But that is not what Jo Martin and Hertel-Fernandez are arguing.

They are instead looking at the right-side of the above graphic. They are measuring how much of tax revenue comes from the top decile (or, alternatively, the concentration coefficient of tax revenue), and calling that the progressivity of taxation ("how much more (or less) of the tax burden falls on the wealthiest households"). The fact that the United States gets so much more of its tax revenue from the rich when compared to Sweden means we have a much more progressive tax policy, one of the most progressive in the world. Congratulations?

The problem is, of course, that we get so much of our tax revenue from the rich because we have one of the highest rates of inequality across peer nations. How unequal a country is will be just as much of a driver of the progressivity of taxation as the actual tax polices. In order to understand how absurd this is, even flat taxes on a very unequal income distribution will mean that taxes are “progressive” as more income will come from the top of the income distribution, just because that’s where all the money is. Yet how would that be progressive taxation?

We can confirm this. Let’s take the OECD data that is likely where their metric of tax progressivity comes from, and plot it against the market distribution. This is the share of taxes that come from the top decile, versus how much market income the top decile takes home:

As you can see, they are related. (The same goes if you use gini coefficients.)

Beyond the obvious one, there's a much deeper and more important relationship here. As Saez, Piketty and Stantcheva find, the fall in top tax rates over the past 30 years are a major driver of the explosion of income inequality during that same exact period. Among other ways, lower marginal tax rates give high-end mangagement a greater incentive to bargain for higher wages, and for corporate structures to pay them out. This is an important element for the creation of our recent inequality, and it shouldn't get lost among odd definitions of the word "progressive," a word that always seems to create confusion.

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There's a new argument about taxes: the United States is already far too progressive with taxation, it says, and if we want to build a better, eglitarian future we can't do it through a "soak the rich" agenda. It's the argument of this recent New York Times editorial by Edward D. Kleinbard, and a longer piece by political scientists Cathie Jo Martin and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez at Vox. I'm going to focus on the Vox piece because it is clearer on what they are arguing.

There, the researchers note that the countries “that have made the biggest strides in reducing economic inequality do not fund their governments through soak-the-rich, steeply progressive taxes.” They put up this graphic, based on OECD data, to make this point:

You can quickly see that the concept of "progressivity" is doing all the work here, and I believe the way they are going to use that word will be problematic. What does it mean for Sweden to be one of the least progressive tax state, and the United States the most?

Let’s graph out two ways of soaking the rich. Here’s Rich Uncle Pennybags in America, and Rik Farbror Påse av Mynt in Sweden, as well as their respective tax bureaus:

When average people usually talk about soaking the rich, they are talking about the marginal tax rates the highest income earners pay. But as we can see, in Sweden the rich pay a much higher marginal tax rate. As Matt Bruenig at Demos notes, Sweden definitely taxes its rich much more (he also notes that what they do with those taxes is different than what Vox argues).

At this point many people would argue that our taxes are more progressive because the middle-class in the United States is taxed less than the middle-class in Sweden. But that is not what Jo Martin and Hertel-Fernandez are arguing.

They are instead looking at the right-side of the above graphic. They are measuring how much of tax revenue comes from the top decile (or, alternatively, the concentration coefficient of tax revenue), and calling that the progressivity of taxation ("how much more (or less) of the tax burden falls on the wealthiest households"). The fact that the United States gets so much more of its tax revenue from the rich when compared to Sweden means we have a much more progressive tax policy, one of the most progressive in the world. Congratulations?

The problem is, of course, that we get so much of our tax revenue from the rich because we have one of the highest rates of inequality across peer nations. How unequal a country is will be just as much of a driver of the progressivity of taxation as the actual tax polices. In order to understand how absurd this is, even flat taxes on a very unequal income distribution will mean that taxes are “progressive” as more income will come from the top of the income distribution, just because that’s where all the money is. Yet how would that be progressive taxation?

We can confirm this. Let’s take the OECD data that is likely where their metric of tax progressivity comes from, and plot it against the market distribution. This is the share of taxes that come from the top decile, versus how much market income the top decile takes home:

As you can see, they are related. (The same goes if you use gini coefficients.)

Beyond the obvious one, there's a much deeper and more important relationship here. As Saez, Piketty and Stantcheva find, the fall in top tax rates over the past 30 years are a major driver of the explosion of income inequality during that same exact period. Among other ways, lower marginal tax rates give high-end mangagement a greater incentive to bargain for higher wages, and for corporate structures to pay them out. This is an important element for the creation of our recent inequality, and it shouldn't get lost among odd definitions of the word "progressive," a word that always seems to create confusion.

Follow or contact the Rortybomb blog:
 
  

 

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Daily Digest - October 10: Feminists Leading the Charge in Global Development

Oct 10, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

Please note: There will not be a new Daily Digest on Monday, October 13, in observance of Indigenous People's Day. The Daily Digest will return on Tuesday, October 14.

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Please note: There will not be a new Daily Digest on Monday, October 13, in observance of Indigenous People's Day. The Daily Digest will return on Tuesday, October 14.

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Connected Feminism Shows A Muscular Commitment To Change - And Civil Rights (Forbes)

Tom Watson reflects on the Women and Girls Rising conference, praising it for demonstrating the power of feminism in the development world today.

Change in Derivatives Doesn’t Resolve Question of Safe Harbors (NYT)

Stephen J. Lubben says that a change in bankruptcy laws so that other investors can be pulled into proceedings when one goes bankrupt doesn't go far enough.

  • Roosevelt Take: Lubben wrote a chapter in An Unfinished Mission, the Roosevelt Institute and Americans for Financial Reform's report on the questions that remain in financial reform post-Dodd-Frank.

After Huge Tax Incentive Package, Boeing Still Ships Jobs out of Washington (WaPo)

Boeing's tax incentive package was the largest any state had ever offered any one company, writes Reid Wilson, but that has not prevented Boeing from relocating a few thousand jobs.

  • Roosevelt Take: Washington's Boeing workers are largely unionized, and Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch praised them for rejecting a contract that harmed newer and younger workers last year.

From Lagging 'Job Creation' to Lower Charity Giving, the Wealthy Give Less Back to Society (The Guardian)

Suzanne McGee questions why the wealthiest Americans give the lowest percentage of their income to charity, when presumably they have enough funds to do more.

Voter ID Laws Cut Turnout By Blacks, Young (HuffPo)

Alan Fram reports on a new study by the Government Accountability Office, which shows steep drops in turnout in states with new voter ID laws.

Supreme Court Blocks Wisconsin's Voter ID Law (USA Today)

With this emergency stay and a related decision by a district court judge in Texas, some of the most restrictive voter ID laws will not be in effect this November, says Richard Wolf.

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Obama Administration Defends Amazon’s Low Pay – Again

Oct 9, 2014Richard Kirsch

It's hard for workers to trust the President's support for policies that help them when the administration sides with Amazon at the Supreme Court.

Amazon’s business model is based on quick easy buying and low prices. One way it does that is to force its warehouse workers to wait a long time to leave work, without getting paid. And that’s just fine with the Obama administration, which continues to have a blind spot when it comes to decent pay and working conditions at Amazon.

It's hard for workers to trust the President's support for policies that help them when the administration sides with Amazon at the Supreme Court.

Amazon’s business model is based on quick easy buying and low prices. One way it does that is to force its warehouse workers to wait a long time to leave work, without getting paid. And that’s just fine with the Obama administration, which continues to have a blind spot when it comes to decent pay and working conditions at Amazon.

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard a case (Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk) in which workers are suing the temp firm that staff’s Amazon warehouses. The workers are in court because they don’t get paid for the time they are forced to stand on line for a security check when they leave work to be sure they haven’t stolen anything. The security screening itself reveals the poor working conditions and lack of respect that Amazon has for its workers. Workers who are well paid and have job security will not take the risk of stealing. The lack of pay adds costly insult to their injury.

The legal issues revolve around whether the security screenings, which can take 20 minutes or more, are “integral and indispensable” to the job, which would trigger pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Amazon certainly thinks so; the screenings aren’t optional. Still the firm, which pays warehouse workers around $11 or $12 an hour, cheaps out by denying the workers pay when they are waiting on line to leave.

As Jesse Busk, the lead plaintiff in the case, told The Huffington Post, "You're just standing there, and everyone wants to get home. It was not comfortable. There could be hundreds of people waiting at the end of the shift."

While President Obama has made numerous passionate speeches about giving Americans a raise, his administration is taking Amazon’s side at the Supreme Court, filing an amicus brief, alongside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business lobbies.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing new about this from the administration. Last August, as I wrote at the time, “President Obama gave a great speech on why good jobs are the foundation for his middle-out economic strategy... from a huge Amazon warehouse where the workers do not have good jobs.”

The President told the Amazon warehouse workers who were in the audience, “we should be doing everything we can as a country to create more good jobs that pay good wages.”

Everything, it turns out, except being sure they get paid for all the time they are required to be at work.

The Obama administration may wonder why the President does not get more credit for the economic progress the nation has made coming out of the Great Recession or more recognition for his calls for raising the minimum wage. The core reason is that for too many Americans too low wages, too few hours at work, and job insecurity or no job at all remain their reality.

The President’s defense of Amazon reveals another reason. Americans see that he is unwilling to take on the powerful forces that are driving down the living standards and hopes of American workers. They see his embrace of Amazon and Wal-Mart, where he gave a speech on energy earlier this year. And too many come to the conclusion that it is only campaign contributors that matter, despairing of finding leaders who understand what really is going on in their lives – and who are willing to take their side against the powerful.

Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a Senior Adviser to USAction, and the author of Fighting for Our Health. He was National Campaign Manager of Health Care for America Now during the legislative battle to pass reform.

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The Federal Reserve Won't Save the Economy for All

Oct 9, 2014Joelle Gamble

Deepening political participation in and beyond voting is key to achieving policies that raise outcomes for the working class.

Deepening political participation in and beyond voting is key to achieving policies that raise outcomes for the working class.

Inflation hawks have been the talk of the town in elite economic circles in recent weeks. More liberal-leaning minds critique their (frankly) unsubstantiated concerns that the Federal Reserve is driving the U.S. economy toward high levels of inflation. Hawks are concerned that high levels of inflation due to expansionary monetary policy will lead to negative economic outcomes for major firms and, in turn, the rest of the American public.

Instead of worrying about inflation, which has remained at or below 1.5 percent for a year and a half, many prominent economists argue that we should focus on wage growth and jobs. We have seen profits for corporations rise to nearly pre-recession rates, while the poverty rate is not declining as fast as it should be. It’s clear there are some big policies that need changing: the minimum wage, the corporate tax structure, federal budget priorities, and regulations ranging across industries. So why is there so much focus on the Fed and the inflation hawks that circle it? Is there some policy lever we can pull here that would raise outcomes for the working class?

Let’s lay it out on the table: Current economic debates have focused on U.S. and global monetary policy because our fiscal policy problems appear to be inoperable. A Congressional stagnation, of sorts, has led to a fixation on a different institution, the Federal Reserve. But, overall, can this fixation actually translate into outcomes for the middle class?

With a gridlocked federal system, where can we push for substantial changes in wages and investment infrastructure that support the working class? Executive orders have their limits, of course. Advancements in cities like Seattle and New York City or states like Maryland have started to take effect. But at some point, a deeper, sustainable change must take place. This is a change in who leads in governance and who leads on policy change.

Elections are our general go-to on these matters. If political representation fails, we can just vote them out! Elections matter, but, there are some facts to consider. Currently, the average U.S. voter has an income higher than the median. This is due to lack of access, as well as the privilege of being able to make time to vote. Thus, we should open up opportunities, such as early voting, to more people. But even still, with faith in government falling, access reforms only go so far.

Beyond the act of voting itself, we have to question the responsiveness of the federal government, in particular, to voters. The growing influence of interest groups and coalitions of the wealthy make the ability to change political outcomes from the ballot box less and less secure.

We need to grow the bench. Deepening political participation in and beyond voting is key to achieving policies that raise outcomes for the working class. It is not enough to vote; government must be responsive. As Roosevelt Institute Fellow Sabeel Rahman notes, historic movements of substantial political reform have popular sovereignty and grassroots movements at their core.

Sabeel's words ring especially true in our current political climate. With congressional ineptitude and an unwillingness of the elites to take responsibility for the current state of our democracy, we must return to local movements and communities to build the foundations needed to create tangible economic change. That’s why members of the Campus Network are piloting the Rethinking Communities initiative. We recognize that democracy starts not in Washington but at home, in our own classrooms, our own cities, and our own communities.

There is no silver bullet or hero in this fight for economic justice. Not one public official, nor one economist, nor one President will solve our mess. A return to democratic principles and a deepening of participatory process is what it will take to uplift the working class.

Joelle Gamble is the National Director of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network.

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Daily Digest - October 9: Extreme Wealth Disparities Will Lead to Social Dysfunction

Oct 9, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Top 400 U.S. Billionaires' Wealth Equals Brazil's GDP (Real News Network)

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Top 400 U.S. Billionaires' Wealth Equals Brazil's GDP (Real News Network)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Rob Johnson comments on this data point from Forbes, noting that the social dysfunction caused by this kind of inequality isn't hitting the wealthy yet.

Pulling the Plug on Comcast's Merger (Bloomberg View)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford explains why the Federal Communications Commission should block Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable.

Debt Scolds: Pay No Attention to the Falling Deficit! (NY Mag)

Jonathan Chait scolds those who treated the deficit like the end of the world; now, the deficit is falling, but their outlook took needed stimulus off the table back in 2009.

Fed Officials to Be Flexible on How They Raise Rates (WSJ)

Reporting on the Federal Reserve meeting notes from September, Jon Hilsenrath explains the Fed's decision to try new experimental tools when it's time to raise interest rates.

Obama Had Security Fears on JPMorgan Data Breach (NYT)

Michael Corkery, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, and David E. Sanger report on the administration's knowledge of a summer-long cyberattack on JPMorgan and other banks.

Post-recession Decline in Black Women’s Wages is Consistent with Occupational Downgrading (Working Economics)

Valerie Wilson says that unlike other groups, black women lost both mid-wage and high-wage jobs in the recession, which explains their decreased earnings.

New on Next New Deal

Obama Administration Defends Amazon’s Low Pay – Again

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch says the support of Amazon in Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk illustrates the continued influence of the donor class over workers.

The Federal Reserve Won't Save the Economy for All

Deepening participatory democracy will improve outcomes for the working class, writes Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network National Director Joelle Gamble.

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