"The Kids Aren't Alright": Millennials Demand Economic Stability for all LBGTQ People, Now

Nov 8, 2013Erik Lampmann

Millennials struggle to comprehend why the Employment Non-Discrimination Act isn't law yet, but they shouldn't accept the version with religious exemptions being considered today.

Millennials struggle to comprehend why the Employment Non-Discrimination Act isn't law yet, but they shouldn't accept the version with religious exemptions being considered today.

Ask any college senior today what they are most focused on and they will reply with the same phrase: a job. Today’s young people grew up during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. They’ve seen their own government shut down over funding disputes, the student loan debt bubble top $1 trillion, and income inequality soar through the roof. According to reports, 41.3% of those aged 25-34 will spend at least a year earning less than 150 percent of the poverty line.

In short, young people – notably those without college degrees – understand that the fight for financial stability is an uphill battle in today’s America. Perhaps for this reason, it is downright inconceivable to even some of the most conservative Millennials that lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) people don’t have the same level of employment protection as other historically disadvantaged social groups.

This week, for the first time, it seems as though one of the ‘secondary’ issues of the LGBTQ movement is finally getting its time to shine. The Senate passed its version of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) Thursday, voting 64 to 32 in favor of barring discrimination by “employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or joint labor-management committees ... on the basis of an individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Some straight Americans may mistakenly believe that LGBTQ advocates would only have agitated for marriage equality after having secured workplace nondiscrimination for queer people. They would argue that, while marriage carries a certain religious weight, the idea of protecting LGBTQ people from wrongful termination seems like common sense.  It would surprise many, then, to know that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have no workplace protections in 29 states and trans* people remain vulnerable in 34 states.

Progressives are now attempting to capitalize on the Senate’s passage of ENDA to pressure House members to vote similarly when their version of the bill comes to the floor in the near future. Since 90 percent of Americans believe that LGBTQ people are already protected from discrimination, one would hope that liberals in the House would have an easy time sealing the deal on ENDA before the end of the month.

Say what you will about the movement for marriage equality in the United States, it’s at least been successful in its marketing. It seems likely that the average American could tell you that LGBTQ people are struggling for one thing: marriage. While the lion’s share of the financial, human, and media resources of the LGBTQ movement have gone towards the push for same-sex marriage at the state and federal level, it’s not accurate to say that LGBTQ Americans only care about marriage to the detriment of other pressing issues. In fact, a vocal minority of queer people have pushed the mainstream ‘gay’ establishment for years to shift their priorities toward other issues, such as workforce and housing protections, violence against queer communities, and the provision of inclusive healthcare to LGBTQ people.

It’s unfortunate that some of these organizations now find themselves up against a wall. Yes, ENDA has been passed by the Senate for the first time and seems destined for the same in the House. Yet many queer are concerned by religious exemptions negotiated into both the House and Senate drafts of the bill.  These strategic loopholes open the floodgates for religious organizations to continue to ostracize, harass, or discriminate against the queer movement family.

One of these queer organizations, GetEqual, announced its public opposition to the current drafts of ENDA. They were alarmed by the ability of these religious exemptions to undermine their goal of collective liberation for all queer people. Additionally, they were troubled by the idea that national LGBTQ religious exemptions might then be deployed against advocates working to expand women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health services. GetEqual’s Co-Director, Heather Cronk, went as far as to say that, “Conservatives believe that ‘religious liberty’ should trump all other democratic constructs – including equal protection – and we must call out that they're wrapping bigotry up in shiny packages of religious liberty and hoping no one notices.” It’s clear to me, and the young people I work alongside, that equity with conditions (as articulated in the Senate’s version of ENDA) isn’t really equity at all.

To some extent, this conversation around ENDA and ‘compromise’ has evolved into a sort of motif of the LGBTQ movement. For years, grassroots organizers have found liberal elected representatives willing to sponsor nondiscrimination ordinances to protect ‘sexual orientation’ as a suspect class. But for many officials, the term ‘gender identity’ or perhaps ‘gender identity and expression’ has carried an entirely different political, or even radical, charge. Again and again, mainstream gay organizations caved to the demands of politicians to limit the scope of their work to ‘LGB’ populations – leaving the trans* community out to dry. Perhaps due to this storied past, the pressure on progressives to concede to the demands of the Christian right’s religious exemption seems ever so familiar and frightening.

In light of the failure of previous concessions to substantially decrease rates of violence against LGBTQ people and bring all queer people under the umbrella of legal protections, I’m hesitant to endorse a pre-conditioned draft of ENDA. Instead of accepting the religious exception as a fait accompli, we ought to pressure our elected officials to protect queer people from harassment, discrimination, and persecution everywhere from anyone. We must push them to see past the façade of religious fundamentalism to the continued oppression of LGBTQ people at home and abroad.

 

Consequently, young people must say with one voice: we demand access to economic stability for all people – including LGBTQ communities – without condition. We cannot allow our elected officials to carve out spaces where queer people are protected and other spaces where it’s legal to discriminate.

Erik Lampmann is the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Equal Justice. He studies political theory and French at the University of Richmond. 

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Daily Digest - November 7: Remember The Last Time Wall Street Invested in Housing?

Nov 7, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The Best City for the Next Generation of Artists Just Might Be Jackson (Atlantic Cities)

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The Best City for the Next Generation of Artists Just Might Be Jackson (Atlantic Cities)

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz continues her series on cities where Millennials can succeed. She reports on the art scene in Jackson, MI, where young creatives are taking advantage of cheap available space to try new projects.

Wall Street Slumlords’ Outrageous New Scheme: How They Could Wreck the Economy Again (Salon)

David Dayen reports on Wall Street's newest housing-based investment vehicle, which are backed by rental payments. Ratings agencies have given these securities triple-A ratings, but mortgage-backed securities had the same rating.

The One Mortgage Fix Washington Isn’t Talking About (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisenger considers the pros and cons of keeping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in government, even though policymakers are ignoring that option. He thinks it might be the simplest and most effective choice - but it's the direct opposite of current policy trends.

A Booster Shot for Social Security (In These Times)

Sarah Jaffe explains the plan some progressive Democrats are presenting to expand Social Security. They call chained CPI a tax on life itself for seniors, because it assumes people will substitute cheaper goods when possible - but health care has no substitutes.

Ten States Have Banned Cities And Counties From Passing Paid Sick Days (ThinkProgress)

Bryce Covert looks at the states that passed preemptive laws banning municipalities from enacting paid sick leave. These states apparently know better than their cities, which may want to eliminate the lost productivity that comes with sick workers on the job.

Unemployment Benefits Set To Expire For 1.3 Million At End Of Year (HuffPo)

Arthur Delaney says that Congressional patterns of cutting close to the deadline for extending federal unemployment benefits should be cause for concern again this year. With Congress's disinterest in preventing SNAP cuts, he wonders if the same could happen here.

A Hunger Expert Explains What Happens Now That Food Stamps Are Cut (WaPo)

Dylan Matthews speaks to Joel Berg of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger about how SNAP cuts will affect food-insecure Americans, and how he would structure policy around hunger. Berg thinks that benefits weren't enough before the cuts.

New Student Loan Rules Add Protections for Borrowers (NYT)

Ann Carrns explains new rules from the Department of Education meant to helped borrowers get out of default. Income-based rehabilitative payments and increased ease in requesting forbearance should make a big difference for struggling graduates.

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Daily Digest - November 6: Underdog Cities and Underfunded Agencies

Nov 6, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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San Antonio's Simple Appeal to Millennials: Diversity, Decent Jobs, and Cheap Living (Atlantic Cities)

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San Antonio's Simple Appeal to Millennials: Diversity, Decent Jobs, and Cheap Living (Atlantic Cities)

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz continues her series on cities "Where Millennials Can Make It Now." San Antonio, she says, is a bit of an underdog compared to other Texas cities that attract Millennials, but many residents relish that status.

  • Roosevelt Take: Nona speaks about how Millennials' views on love and relationships have been affected by the Great Recession in the newest video in the Roosevelt Institute's explainer series, "What's the Deal."

How Washington Is Wrecking the Future, in 2 Charts (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien looks at the severe cuts to non-defense discretionary spending in the past few years with charts from the Financial Times. He argues that at these spending levels, government is only barely fulfilling its basic responsibilities.

Liberal Push to Expand Social Security Gains Steam (WaPo)

Greg Sargent speaks to Senator Sherrod Brown about why now is the time for Democrats to shift the conversation and go on the offensive for entitlement programs. The discussion should be about whether to make cuts to Social Security, not how much.

Shortchanging a Wall Street Watchdog (U.S. News & World Report)

Pat Garofalo argues that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's budget is eternally short because of intentional Republican strategy. An underfunded enforcement agency can't enforce much of anything, let alone new Dodd-Frank regulations.

Will ENDA Be the Next Casualty of the GOP’s Internal Crisis? (The Nation)

Zoë Carpenter considers why the popularly supported Employment Non-Discrimination Act is unlikely to even get a vote in the House. Boehner claims it's to protect business owners - but business owners aren't speaking up against ENDA.

Higher Wage Is Approved in New Jersey (NYT)

Patrick McGeehan reports on the results of the NJ constitutional amendment, which not only raises the minimum wage starting on January 1, but also indexes it to inflation. That annual adjustment is key, because without it low-wage workers essentially get wage cuts each year.

Bulldozing Homes and Civil Rights (MSNBC)

Adam Serwer reports on the upcoming Supreme Court case Mount Holly Citizens in Action vs Township of Mount Holly, which he says could give the Court's right wing an opportunity to collapse the Fair Housing Act, a pillar of civil rights law.

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Daily Digest - November 5: Home Is Where The Affordable Rent Is

Nov 5, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Where Millennials Can Make It Now (Atlantic Cities)

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Where Millennials Can Make It Now (Atlantic Cities)

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz introduces her two-week series on cities where Millennials afford the costs of achieving their goals. The first piece, on Omaha, points out the higher levels of risk Millennials can take on with low costs of living.

Median Wage Falls to Lowest Level Since 1998 (AJAM)

David Cay Johnston reports that as the median wage falls, average wages are rising, according to new data from the Social Security Administration. That's a sign of gains at the top of the income ladder, with the wealthiest Americans pulling up the average.

How Washington Abandoned America's Unpaid Interns (The Atlantic)

Stephen Lurie explains the legal puzzle that has left unpaid interns without protections. There's serious structural damage happening to the workplace when young people work unpaid and unprotected, but that can't be fixed without laws or regulations.

Where’s the GOP’s Anti-Poverty Agenda? (WaPo)

Ryan Cooper asks why the Republicans have ignored the section of their autopsy report about poverty. A hard line against poverty assistance programs is particularly horrifying when unemployment is still high, and the GOP knows it, but apparently doesn't care.

2014 Cuts Hit Defense Spending, so Obama Has Leverage on Taxes (MSNBC)

Timothy Noah suggests that since the next round of sequestration cuts hit the Pentagon, the Democrats have a lot more budget clout than they think. Republicans don't want to be tied to defense cuts, which makes these cuts a useful negotiation tool.

If the GOP Repeals Obamacare, 137 Million Americans Could Get Cancellation Notices (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger thinks that the Republicans would face public outrage if they actually managed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The people getting cancellation notices from their insurance companies today are big news, but a repeal would be exponentially larger.

Meet Preet Bharara, Who Just Won the Biggest Insider Trading Case Ever (WaPo)

Lydia DePillis profiles the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. His crusade against a culture of corruption on Wall Street led to a major victory in a criminal case against a hedge fund for insider trading yesterday.

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California's Environmental Regulations Provide a Vision for the Future

Oct 8, 2013Melia Ungson

Millennials are looking to environmental regulations to ensure their quality of life in the future, but those regulations don't have to be seen as opposed to economic development.

Millennials are looking to environmental regulations to ensure their quality of life in the future, but those regulations don't have to be seen as opposed to economic development.

I am grateful for the clean, potable water that runs from my tap, for the peace of mind that the buildings in which I work and play are free of many toxins that could harm my health, and for the confidence that I will be alerted when air quality is dangerously poor. I appreciate the reliable flow of electricity generated from a variety of sources. And I cherish the housing, the transit systems, the businesses and industries, and the parks that make our communities so vibrant while minimizing the negative impacts on residents and local ecosystems.  

Most of all, I am thankful for the environmental regulations that strive to make all of these things possible.

Environmental protection and economic growth are often put at odds with one another in our public discourse. One need only look at the reaction to President Obama’s plans to set limits on the emissions of new gas-fired and coal power plants. Opponents have claimed that the regulations will harm job creation and economic growth, calling it the next step in the president's “war on coal.” However, I am convinced that we can incorporate both environmental considerations and development needs in our vision for more resilient, strong, and vibrant communities.

Central to this effort are environmental regulations at the national, state, and local levels that require projects to recognize environmental impacts and take steps to mitigate the costs. One law that has been hailed as setting the highest environmental standards in the country is the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which California legislators weakened earlier this year. Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California, signed CEQA in 1970. It was during the height of the environmental movement and the National Environmental Policy Act had been passed just a year earlier. Among its more unique strengths are calls for thorough review of both public and private projects, a prohibition on piecemealing (which requires that developers consider their projects holistically), and legal standing for the public to evaluate projects with environmental costs. Since then, CEQA has served as a model for similar laws in over a dozen other states.

However, it has also been a source of controversy. Opponents say the law is often invoked for reasons unrelated to environmental concerns as a way to stop or delay projects and that the litigation process is opaque. The reasons for litigation or the threat of litigation range from labor disputes to efforts to block competing projects or firms. There are examples where these complaints ring true; for instance, in one case, a gas station owner invoked CEQA while trying to delay or discourage a competitor from adding additional pumps, a move that cost the competitor an extra $500,000. CEQA lawsuits about the environmental impact review process also delayed San Francisco’s plan to add bike lanes on major streets.

But by and large, the law has not actually created a maze of red tape that has caused developers and industry to run from the Golden State. On the contrary, a number of reports show that CEQA has not hurt California’s GDP and has boosted renewable projects. A report issued earlier this year found that since CEQA’s passage in 1970, California has been a leader in green power plant projects and has had fewer cancelled projects than states with less stringent environmental laws. The report also found that California’s per capita GDP, housing relative to population, manufacturing output, and construction activity grew as fast or faster since CEQA has been in place.

Despite those statistics, some legislators in California wanted to weaken CEQA. There was much heated debate, but legislators eventually settled on something of a middle ground. The bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown and proposed by Democratic leader Senator Darrell Steinberg waters down CEQA by exempting urban projects from parking and aesthetic (view-blocking) reviews, which have led to the most litigation, speeding the pace of litigation, and redefining how traffic impacts are determined.

Unfortunately, by squeezing in this reform to streamline the process for a Sacramento sports arena and keep the Sacramento Kings in the city, California missed a real opportunity to make meaningful reforms that would enhance the benefits of CEQA while also helping to address the openings for abuse or lack of clarity. This is part of a larger conversation: how do we use environmental protection to push sustainable development and innovation that will provide for a healthy and prosperous future?

As a Millennial looking far down the line, I want to think about how cities, communities, development projects, and sensitive ecological environments will hold up in the long run. We need development projects that will help usher in economic growth, bring jobs, cultivate vibrant communities, and more. But none of these goals can succeed unless we also aim for a healthy environment—one with clean air and water, with green spaces that allow local biodiversity to flourish and residents to lead healthy lifestyles, with transit and electricity systems propelled by clean fuels. By grounding regulations in our vision for the future, we can come closer to ensuring that regulations and development can work hand in hand. Environmental regulations can guide industry, provided that policymakers grant them the flexibility needed to make adjustments.

Melia Ungson is the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment.

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How Will Millennials Reform Government?

Oct 8, 2013

In the first installment of the Roosevelt Institute's new "What's the Deal?" series, Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network National Field Strategist Joelle Gamble explains how young people are creating change in their local communities through the Campus Network and are designing a more effective government.

Learn more about the Campus Network by visiting:

http://www.rooseveltcampusnetwork.org

Read about the Campus Network's vision for 21st century government:

http://www.rooseveltcampusnetwork.org/govbyandfor

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War-Weary Millennials See Few Good Options in Syria

Sep 24, 2013Jacqueline Van de Velde

After growing up with protracted conflicts in the Middle East, Millennials are glad to see the U.S .consider a diplomatic response to Syria, but know it might not end there.

The past few weeks have seen a heated debate in the news and through the halls of Congress on whether or not the United States should respond to the widespread use of chemical weapons by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad on his own citizens – and if so, to what extent. With diplomatic options proposed, the U.S. has the option to participate in an international solution.

After growing up with protracted conflicts in the Middle East, Millennials are glad to see the U.S .consider a diplomatic response to Syria, but know it might not end there.

The past few weeks have seen a heated debate in the news and through the halls of Congress on whether or not the United States should respond to the widespread use of chemical weapons by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad on his own citizens – and if so, to what extent. With diplomatic options proposed, the U.S. has the option to participate in an international solution.

As a Millennial, I care deeply about how this situation escalates. Some of my earliest memories involve 9/11; I have few memories from a time when the United States was not at war in the Middle East. All of this war, with its violence and its expense, has made my generation a bit pacifistic and extremely sensitive to the idea of becoming involved in international conflict. At the same time, we’ve lived through Wikileaks and more recently, Snowden’s whistleblowing. Regardless of whether these individuals or programs were right or wrong, they showed us that sometimes government programs, policies, and interventions, when mismanaged, could infringe upon the rights of both U.S. citizens and global citizens. This has made Millennials sensitive to the idea of injustice in our interventions. We are hesitant to put boots on the ground where they aren’t wanted, needed, or carefully considered. We are hesitant to initiate a program without oversight capacities in place, and we want to know what they are and have a say in how they work.

Syria must be addressed out of this same feeling of injustice. But I’m cautious about placing trust in an international solution, particularly when this kind of operation has never been attempted before. The proposed weapons collection program will require the U.N. to do work they’ve never done before, for the international community to commit to funding this expensive and time-consuming work, and for the Assad regime – the very source of the problem – to commit to full disclosure.  

All three of these requirements are difficult, but I particularly doubt the Assad regime’s cooperation. In late August, the Assad regime released sarin gas, a neurotoxin that causes seizures, vomiting, loss of bowel control, foaming at the mouth, and can lead to death. In Syria’s case, over 1,400 people died from exposure to sarin.

The use of chemical weapons was first prohibited by international law within the Geneva Protocol in the wake of World War I, and specific limitations were further clarified in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1992, which called for a cease in production of these weapons, made their transfer illegal, and mandated that countries begin destroying their stockpiles. While Syria is not a signatory to the CWC, they are party to the Geneva Protocol. Until only a few days ago, Syria has continually denied ownership of chemical weapons.

Syria is in the midst of a brutal civil war, the population divided into ever-splintering factions of rebel groups that oppose Assad’s regime. There is little organization, there are many divisive factors (religious and ethnic differences, for example), and there is much fear. Assad, in a particularly calculating move, used sarin gas on a civilian area where one particular rebel group – and the rebels' families – were based. Hundreds of children died in their beds; others died writhing in pain and foaming at the mouth at overcrowded, contaminated hospitals.

The United States felt compelled to act in this volatile situation based on a comment by President Obama a year ago, that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a “red line,” not to be crossed. Rather than serving as effective deterrence for the Assad regime, this served as a line to be tested and a boundary to be crossed. These words became shackles for President Obama; he had left no room for backtracking, and his own words compelled him to action.

But, not too much action. Assad may be a “thug,” as Secretary of State Kerry called him, but he is a thug whom the U.S. doesn’t want to remove from office. If an American attack crippled his regime, it would create a power vacuum in the region. One of the many splintered rebel groups could take power, and while some would promote peace and human rights, others are linked to Al Qaeda and other extremist organizations. There is no good alternative to Assad at this time, and we don’t want to risk an overthrow. Hence, Obama has argued for extremely limited strikes: no boots on the ground, a limited time-table, and in-and-out destruction of the remaining chemical weapons that Assad possesses.

Obama brought this proposal before Congress, which is almost unheard of; the last time that a president asked Congress for approval for military action was Franklin Delano Roosevelt concerning World War II. And until recently, it looked like the proposal might make it through. But as time passed and constituents, war-weary after more than 10 years of Iraq and Afghanistan, raised their voices, prospects for getting something done looked incredibly bleak.

But no response isn’t an option. The United States, as the global hegemon, is compelled to protect international norms and promote human rights. With Russia previously vetoing action through the Security Council of the United Nations and Great Britain’s Parliament voting no to action (thereby preventing NATO or simply the U.S. and U.K. from acting in tandem), the United States had no course of action but acting alone. If we turned our backs on such widespread atrocities, such universally-agreed upon violations of codes of behavior for states, we would create incentive for these actions to be repeated.

My generation knows that one split-second foreign policy decision can lead to life-long results – that a decision to go after Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and a dream of turning a Taliban regime into a democratic state could lead to 13 years of boots on the ground, thousands of deaths, and children who don’t remember a time without conflict. So Millenials are cautious. I am cautious. I do not want to live in a world where state leaders can gas their own citizens to a horrific death and see no consequences. I do not want to establish a new international norm permitting the use of chemical weapons. I don’t want to have to clean up another mess, an even greater mess, than those we have already created.  

But now, a new option has opened up: diplomacy. Secretary of State John Kerry mentioned the possibility of Syria turning over its weapons to the international community, and the Russian Federation, close allies with Syria, suggested taking that proposal seriously. President Obama asked for the vote on action in Congress to be postponed while this possibility was explored. Over the weekend, Secretary Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to hammer out an initial agreement to destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons by mid-2014.

I am a proponent of diplomacy and believe it should be prioritized far above military action. However, this option is messy. Syria is a state in conflict; explosions, attacks, and deaths are an everyday reality. Assad’s chemical weapons are not all in one place. For a U.N. team to come in, locate, and destroy the weapons would take years. They would have to destroy the weapons while on the ground. They would have to build structures in which to do their work. They would have to do this in the midst of a turbulent and vitriolic war between a government that has a history of lying to U.N. inspectors and myriad rebel groups, some with extremist ties.

This is far from the ideal situation. In fact, it’s about as far from the ideal situation as it could get. Assad will not be punished for his actions, and it’s likely the U.N. team would be hurt, threatened, or unable to finish their work. While ideal, this may be impossible, and if it proves to be impossible, then the U.S. needs to be ready to step in to ensure that no global citizen has to fear a sarin gas attack by the Assad regime again. We have to protect human rights, and we can do that through diplomacy first. The U.S. should certainly give every effort to cooperate along diplomatic lines and give full support and assistance to the U.N. team. But we should not, by any stretch of the imagination, take limited strikes off the table – in case negotiations fall through, in case the U.N. team is in danger, or in case Assad’s regime does not disclose the location of their full stockpile. 

Jacqueline Van de Velde is the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's Senior Fellow for Defense and Diplomacy and a senior at the University of Georgia.

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Daily Digest - September 13: Labor for Healthier Politics

Sep 13, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Joe Stiglitz: The People Who Break the Rules Have Raked in Huge Profits and Wealth and It's Sickening Our Politics (Alternet)

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Joe Stiglitz: The People Who Break the Rules Have Raked in Huge Profits and Wealth and It's Sickening Our Politics (Alternet)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz addressed the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles earlier this week. Alternet has the transcript, and the video is available on Youtube.

Trumka's Ploy (TAP)

Harold Meyerson argues that the AFL-CIO President was intentionally radical in his suggestions prior to the convention. That way, he got the reform he wanted: non-union workers' groups welcomed into labor, and more permanent partnerships with progressive allies.

The Rise of the New New Left (The Daily Beast)

Peter Beinart uses the NYC mayoral race as emblematic of a new political generation, one that sees progressive values as more than just ideals. The group coming of age under this economic crisis, he says, is shifting the political conversation to an anti-corporate, populist message.

  • Roosevelt Take: Many of Beinart's claims about the Millennial political generation line up with the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's findings in Government By and For Millennial America, which discusses what kind of government Millennials want.

Mayor Gray Vetoes ‘Living Wage’ Bill Aimed at Wal-Mart, Setting up Decisive Council Vote (WaPo)

Mike DeBonis reports on the Washington, DC mayor's veto of the Large Retailer Accountability Act. Mayor Gray called for a city-wide minimum wage increase instead, but didn't specify an amount he would support.

How Wal-Mart Keeps Wages Low (WaPo)

Josh Eidelson examines how Wal-Mart discourages workers from organizing so that they won't have to raise wages. With a model built on the lowest possible prices, higher wages would presumably cut into the all-important shareholder profits.

Can the Government Actually Do Anything About Inequality? (NYT)

Tom Edsall looks at a number of studies to question what, if anything, government could do to reduce economic inequality. He sees policy tied to the deepening and spreading of inequality, which presumably means policy could work in the other direction as well.

Congress Searches For A Shutdown-Free Future (NPR)

Frank James reports on the steps being taken in Congress to negotiate away from a potential government shutdown. The Republicans are finding themselves stymied by Tea Partiers, for whom a 42nd symbolic repeal of Obamacare isn't good enough.

New on Next New Deal

The 1 Percent Took Home the Largest Share of Income Since 1928 Last Year

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal points out that the 1 percent's share of all income has vastly exceeded pre-Recession levels. This trend makes it hard to say that everyone in the U.S. wants policy change to help strengthen the recovery.

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Obama Can't Avoid Foreign Policy Focus, and Neither Should Young People

Sep 9, 2013Jacqueline Van de Velde

President Obama's second term is off to a rocky start on issues of defense and diplomacy, but that gives Millennials a great opportunity to share their own solutions.

This summer, I had the honor of serving as an intern in an international organization. Employing staff from over 180 member countries, the workplace was extremely diverse and full of talent from around the world. It was a fantastic experience.

President Obama's second term is off to a rocky start on issues of defense and diplomacy, but that gives Millennials a great opportunity to share their own solutions.

This summer, I had the honor of serving as an intern in an international organization. Employing staff from over 180 member countries, the workplace was extremely diverse and full of talent from around the world. It was a fantastic experience.

However, as the only American in my division, I was conscious of the fact that my behavior and my opinions were being taken as representative of my country. As the summer unfolded and crisis after crisis in U.S. policy was revealed, I found myself constantly called upon to give an explanation. Why was the NSA collecting data on citizens outside of the United States, and how could that be considered either legal or ethical? Did I think Edward Snowden was a hero or a traitor? What was my opinion on the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt? Trying to answer those questions was complicated, especially since they were asked by co-workers who were personally upset by the actions of the U.S. government. Making an impact, and changing minds, meant devoting a lot of time and thought to our conversations, while being firm enough in my own opinions to respectfully but confidently assert them, even when we didn’t agree.

I’m not the only American who has been faced with tough questions about foreign policy lately. The Obama administration has been beset by criticism and crises in foreign policy in its second term: well-publicized hunger strikes at Guantanamo Bay; widespread protests in Brazil, Turkey, and Egypt; Senator Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster in protest of U.S. drone strikes; Bashar al’Assad’s use of chemical weapons; and the now-infamous leaks by Edward Snowden of the NSA’s widespread surveillance policies.

Previously, it was speculated that President Obama, whose foreign policy was a strong suit in his first term, hoped to step back and focus on domestic issues in his second. However, the explosive foreign policy issues over the past few months have proven that defense and diplomacy will have to be addressed within this term as much as in the last, much to the excitement of student policymakers such as myself.

Student members of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network will have unique opportunities to contribute to defense and diplomacy policy over the next year – opportunities to provide Secretary of State John Kerry with a list of Millennials’ preferred foreign policy solutions; to inject our voices into the public discourse both at home and abroad on the ethics and efficacy of widespread surveillance, cyber-security, and drone strikes; and to use the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, estimated to occur by the end of next year, to analyze the relative success of the venture and suggest new and more effective methods of peacemaking around the world. I look forward to leading those efforts as the Campus Network’s new Senior Fellow for Defense and Diplomacy.

But if my work this summer was any indication, our most pressing job over the next year may be to speak out. There is a widespread perception abroad that the U.S. is meddlesome at best and voraciously power-hungry at worst, and these recent scandals, particularly the NSA leaks, have done nothing to help that image. The more policies that we can write, the more innovative ideas we can share, and the more solutions that we can propose to increase international peace, security, and prosperity, the more we can promote the kind of U.S. foreign policy that I believe in: one genuinely interested in bettering the world for all global citizens.

Foreign policy is a complicated field with policy issues that are immense and difficult, even for the most seasoned State Department analysts, to try to tackle. When solving these problems, we need to find a manageable angle, something that we, as students, can comprehend in order to offer valid solutions. In doing so, it’s critical to remember that we don’t have to save the free world alone. Rather, if we all work on small pieces of behemoth problems, then eventually, that problem won’t be so immense.

On foreign policy, perhaps more than any other policy area, young Americans must be vocal about our ideas, whether that means promoting them in in-person meetings, suggesting them in blog posts, or presenting them at conferences. That will be critical if we hope to gain the access that is required to make an impact. With implementation of our ideas often in the hands of high-level politicians, analysts, and diplomats, we need to be just as serious about being heard as we are about producing quality policy analysis. So, let’s get started.

Jacqueline Van de Velde is the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's Senior Fellow for Defense and Diplomacy and a senior at the University of Georgia.

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To Restore the New Deal, Government Must Earn Young Americans’ Trust

Aug 29, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

The Greater Boston network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline hosted a discussion on the State of the New Deal, and what needs to change for Millennials to support similar programs today.

The Greater Boston network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline hosted a discussion on the State of the New Deal, and what needs to change for Millennials to support similar programs today.

On Tuesday night, the Greater Boston network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline gathered for a panel discussion on “The State of the New Deal,” reflecting on President Roosevelt's historic achievements and considering what could come next. Pipeline, a national network of young people in their 20s and 30s collectively organizing to engineer innovative policies and promote effective civic leadership in their communities, convened a multigenerational panel to discuss what’s become of the New Deal safety net, and what would be needed to create similar programs today.

The program opened with David Woolner, a Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Resident Hyde Park Historian, providing some historical context: FDR's legacy, the political environment of the day, and how the New Deal was perceived when it was happening. One of the most important thing he noted was that FDR worked in a far less politically divided era: some of the strongest supporters of New Deal programs were moderate Republicans. It’s much harder to pass any legislation in today’s Congress.

Following his keynote, Woolner joined Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz and Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network National Field Strategist Joelle Gamble for a panel moderated by Roosevelt Institute President Felicia Wong, where they expanded the discussion to today's issues: health care, student debt, Occupy, low-wage work, and more. They probed at the relationship between Americans and their government today, which is often one of distrust and skepticism. As Woolner explained, with the dismantling of much of the New Deal in the Reagan era, government was no longer a creator of economic opportunity.

Aronowitz focused on the question of economic security, posing the question of why Millennials should trust government to work for them. “They're craving … this baseline of economic security,” and aren't seeing any way to get it, she said. Were government to help create that baseline, it would be easier to see the potential for other New Deal-style programs. She was also skeptical of the Occupy movement, noting that while the Tea Party and Occupy are frequently compared as political extremes, the anti-establishment and anti-leadership nature of Occupy means that they have limited political power. Meanwhile, Tea Party Republicans like Ted Cruz work against more moderate policymakers to prevent legislation and control the right's agenda.

Gamble presented the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's “Government By and For Millennial America” project as proof that it is possible to create a government that would speak to Millennial ideas and needs. This government would be an innovator, a lawmaker, and a steward of the common good, and would truly engage all citizens. Unfortunately, she noted, for most Millennials their first real encounter with government systems is with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and federal student loans. FAFSA is often seen as a frustrating system, and student loan servicers as even worse. Woolner noted in his introduction that “what Roosevelt accomplished was a complete transformation of the relationship between the federal government and the American people,” and it's hard to imagine a similarly positive relationship today – especially if the student loan system is how people form their impression of government.

The question and answer session demonstrated the insight and engagement of the audience. The Affordable Care Act was a topic of serious discussion, and Aronowitz pointed out that for many middle-class Millennials, it doesn't seem to help much. Woolner passed the mic to James Roosevelt Jr., Franklin and Eleanor’s grandson and an attorney who works on health care, who argued that “if Obamacare succeeds, it will be the New Deal success of our lifetime.” His comment echoed one of the common themes that threaded through the discussion: Millennials need some proof that these programs will help before they will buy in fully. If the Affordable Care Act does lower costs and make insurance more accessible, it could lead to broader support of other programs, like infrastructure-based jobs programs.

After the event, I spoke with some attendees who are involved in Boston-area politics. They seemed to mostly agree: buy-in is tough. Creating change is tough. But the people I spoke to and those posing questions seemed determined to work together and create something new. They want to trust in government to create the safety net needed for that baseline of economic security that Aronowitz brought up early on. They want government to demonstrate that it’s ready to be an equal partner in decreasing economic inequality. It’s just a matter of figuring out the next steps toward that goal.

For more information on Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline, visit their website. The Pipeline | New York network will be hosting a screening of the documentary “My Brooklyn” on September 16th at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

Rachel Goldfarb is the Roosevelt Institute Communications Associate.

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