Earlier today, a panel discussion at a Roosevelt Institute event with economist Joseph Stiglitz, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled the new report by Stiglitz, “Rewriting the Rules: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity.” Check out RewritetheRules.org to find out more. Download of the Full Report (.pdf).
Who said it is about income inequality, Mayor Bill de Blasio or Senator Elizabeth Warren?
“This doesn’t just come from Republicans. A lot of Democrats seem to have floated along with the idea that the economic growth is in direct opposition to strengthening the well-being of America’s families, and that we have to choose economic growth or our families. That claim is flatly wrong.”
The answer is Ms. Warren, the progressive senator from Massachusetts who some are hoping will decide to run for president as an alternative to a Hillary Clinton bid likely to be funded by donors from the banks Ms. Warren often rails against.
But it could just as well been Mr. de Blasio, who spoke just moments after Ms. Warren at the National Press Club this morning during an event called Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy, which carried with it the tagline “An agenda for growth and shared prosperity.” In recent months, as he’s traveled to the Midwest and now Washington in an effort to urge a focus on income inequality in the 2016 presidential race, Mr. de Blasio too has expressed the idea that even some within his party have not given the issue the attention it deserves.
Today, Ms. Warren excoriated trickle-down economics and blasted the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal pushed by President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat (“Over and over, American workers have taken the brunt of bad trade deals,” she said, and knocked the secrecy around it). And, like Mr. de Blasio has, she sounded an alarm bill for acting fast.
“This country is in real trouble. The game is rigged and we are running out of time,” Ms. Warren said. “We cannot continue to run his country for the top ten percent.”
She referred to solutions, some of them listed in the report written by Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Sitglitz that the event was highlighting. Among them were universal pre-kindergarten and after-school programs—some of Mr. de Blasio’s signature policies, though Ms. Warren did not mention Mr. de Blasio’s name or New York City.
“We can rebuild America’s once invincible middle class, and I believe this is the fight worth having,” she said.
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Mr. de Blasio, meanwhile, struck a note he’s hit before—if the national government won’t act, local governments will. In addition to universal pre-K and after-school, New York City has enacted paid sick time for all workers, and Mr. de Blasio is pushing Albany to increase the minimum wage.
“We in New York are doing all we can, but we cannot complete the mission without fundamental change in federal policy,” Mr. de Blasio said. “There needs to be not only new debate in this country, but there needs to be a movement that will carry these ideas forward.”
He said it’s already happening in some cities—but Mr. de Blasio’s trip to the nation’s capital and other recent trips to the midwest are designed to spur that movement.
Today he’ll roll out a plan he’s dubbed the “Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality,” a 13-point plan which he has presented as a liberal version of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s “Contract for America.” At the 3 p.m. press conference, Mr. de Blasio will be joined by “dozens” of progressive lawmakers and advocates. He’s also promised to host a presidential candidate forum on the issue of income inequality.
Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality – C-Span (News Conference).
The Progressive Agenda
1. Lift The Floor For Working People
- Raise the federal minimum wage, so that it reaches $15/hour, while indexing it to inflation.
- Reform the National Labor Relations Act, to enhance workers’ right to organize and rebuild the middle class.
- Pass comprehensive immigration reform to grow the economy and protect against exploitation of low-wage workers.
- Oppose trade deals that hand more power to corporations at the expense of American jobs, workers’ rights, and the environment.
2. Support Working Families
- Pass national paid sick leave.
- Pass national paid family leave.
- Make Pre-K, after-school programs and childcare universal.
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Allow students to refinance student loan debt to take advantage of lower interest rates.
3. Tax Fairness
- Close the carried interest loophole.
- End tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
- Implement the “Buffett Rule” so millionaires pay their fair share.
- Close the CEO tax loophole that allows corporations to take advantage of “performance pay” write-offs.
Expect to see more written about this topic in coming days in the progressive media.
UPDATE: CBS Marketwatch reports, Warren, De Blasio pitch agenda to tackle income inequality:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz offered proposals to address income inequality, an issue that’s already a major one for the upcoming election.
In a new report, Stiglitz, chief economist at the Roosevelt Institute in Washington, took aim at the lack of regulation within the financial industry, executive compensation, international free trade agreements, diminishing labor standards and generous tax rates for the wealthy, among other traditionally liberal causes.
The report indirectly aims to portray the Democratic Party in a more progressive light and shift the long-term campaign narrative to the left.
Stiglitz, helming the group of economists and lawyers that included Robert Solow, another Nobel-winning economist, broadly criticized the last 30 years of U.S. economic policy, sometimes called the neoliberal doctrine, marked by financial deregulation and increased privatization.
He dubbed this period a “failed experiment,” calling specific attention to stark differences in income levels among Americans. “It’s time to try something new,” he said.
The report proposes capping the size of big banks and financial institutions and ending the assumed public insurance policy of “too big to fail.” It also advocates for stricter penalties for banks that break rules and for new schemes of CEO pay.
Among the bolder of the report’s recommendations is a financial transaction tax.
“Before 1975 the financial sector charged a fixed brokerage commission on trades that, for consumers, functioned like a tax,” Stiglitz writes. “There is little evidence that the elimination of this fee improved financial markets.”
Warren called for an end to the so- called trickle down economic theories that seek fewer taxes and restrictions on wealthy individuals and institutions. “These advocates push for deregulation that hobbles the cops on Wall Street,” she said.
Warren also took an indirect swipe at President Barack Obama’s trade agenda, specifically the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a far-reaching deal among the U.S. and several Pacific Rim nations, though she didn’t mention it by name.
“Americans have taken the brunt of bad trade deals,” she said.
“We have to work so that the balance is not tilted against workers and toward multinational corporations,” Warren said.
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De Blasio — who like Warren, has yet to back the presidential campaign of front-runner Hillary Clinton — argued that while the federal government has resisted reforms that would decrease inequality between the rich and poor, local governments have moved ahead and are taking action.
“City councils across the country are leading the way,” he said. “Our current condition was created by the wrong choices and the wrong policies. It was not an act of god.”