37 ways to un-rig the U.S. economy so it no longer favors the rich

Joseph Stiglitz, Elizabeth Warren and the Roosevelt Institute weigh in on the defining issue of the 2016 elections


Steven Rosenfeld
May 16, 2015 6:00PM (UTC)
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNet A new report written by scores of progressives economists has laid out an detailed agenda to dismantle, reverse and fix how the laws and policies governing the American economy are rigged to benefit the wealthiest individuals and largest corporoation.

The report, “Rewriting The Rules Of The American Economy: An Agenda For Growth and Shared Prosperity,” has just been released by The Roosevelt Institute, where Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined its chief economist Joseph Stiglitz at its press conference.

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“The American economy no longer works for most Americans… What is causing this dysfunction?” the report opens, then answering that question and making dozens of specific law and policy changes, listed below.

“Some point to technological change or globalization,” it said. “Some posit that government has shackled the free enterprise system and hobbled business. Some say that our economy is simply rewarding the risk takers and job creators who have earned the riches coming their way... None of these arguments gets it right.”

“Skyrocketing incomes for the 1 percent and stagnating wages for everyone else are not independent phenomena, but rather two symptoms of an impaired economy that rewards gaming the system more than it does hard work and investment," it states. "The roots of this dysfunction lie deep in the rules and power dynamics that have prioritized corporate power and short-term gains at the expense of long-term innovation and growth. The outcomes shaped by these rules and power dynamics do not make the economy stronger; indeed, many make it weaker.”

What follows are 37 specific laws and policy changes to restore fairness and balance to the economy without undermining American capitalism.

Fix The Financial Sector

1. End “too big to fail” by imposing additional capital surcharges on systemically risky financial institutions and breaking up firms that cannot produce credible living wills.

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2. Better regulate the shadow banking sector.

3. Bring greater transparency to all financial markets by requiring all alternative asset managers to publicly disclose holdings, returns, and fee structures.

4. Reduce credit and debit card fees through improved regulation of card providers and enhanced competition.

5. Enforce existing rules with stricter penalties for companies and corporate officials that break the law.

6. Reform Federal Reserve governance to reduce conflicts of interest and institute more open and accountable elections.

Incentivize Long-Term Business Growth

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7. Restructure CEO pay by closing the performance-pay tax loophole and increasing transparency on the size of compensation packages relative to performance and median worker pay and on the dilution as a result of grants of stock options.

8. Enact a financial transaction tax to reduce short-term trading and encourage more productive long-term investment.

9. Empower long-term stakeholders through the tax code, the use of so-called “loyalty shares,” and greater accountability for managers of retirement funds.

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Make Markets Competitive

10. Restore balance to intellectual property rights to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.

11. Restore balance to global trade agreements by ensuring investor protections are not prioritized above protections on the environment and labor, and increasing transparency in the negotiation process.

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12. Provide health care cost controls by allowing government bargaining.

13. Expand a variant of chapter 11 bankruptcy to homeowners and student borrowers.

Rebalance The Tax System

14. Raise the top marginal rate by converting all reductions to tax credits and limiting the use of credits.

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15. Raise taxes on capital gains and dividends.

16. Encourage U.S. investment by taxing corporations on global income.

17. Tax undesirable behavior such as short-term trading or polluting and eliminate corporate welfare and other tax expenditures that foster inefficiency and inequality.

Make Full Employement The Goal

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18. Reform monetary policy to give higher priority to full employment.

19. Reinvigorate public investment to lay the foundation for long-term economic performance and job growth, including by investing in large-scale infrastructure renovation: a 10-year campaign to make the U.S. a world leader in innovation, manufacturing, and jobs.

20. Invest in large-scale infrastructure renovation with a 10-year campaign to make the U.S. a world infrastructure innovation, manufacturing, and jobs leader.

21. Expand public transportation to promote equal access to jobs and opportunity.

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Empower workers

22. Strengthen the right to bargain by easing legal barriers to unionization, imposing stricter penalties on illegal anti-union intimidation tactics, and amending laws to reflect the changing workplace.

23. Have government set the standards by attaching strong pro-worker stipulations to its contracts and development subsidies.

24. Increase funding for enforcement and raise penalties for violating labor standards.

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25. Raise the nationwide minimum wage and increase the salary threshold for overtime pay.

Expand Access to Labor Markets and Opportunities For Advancement

26. Reform the criminal justice system to reduce incarceration rates and related financial burdens for the poor.

27. Reform immigration law to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.

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28. Legislate universal paid sick and family leave.

29. Subsidize child care to benefit children and improve women’s workforce participation.

30. Promote pay equity and eliminate legal obstacles that prevent employees from sharing salary information.

31. Protect women’s access to reproductive health services.

Expand Economic Security And Opportunity

32. Invest in young children through child benefits, early education, and universal pre-K.

33. Increase access to higher education by reforming tuition financing, restoring protections to student loans, and adopting universal income-based repayment.

34. Make health care affordable and universal by opening Medicare to all.

35. Expand access to banking services through a postal savings bank.

36. Create a public option for the supply of mortgages.

37. Expand Social Security with a supplemental public investment program modeled on private Individual Retirement Accounts, and raise the payroll cap to increase revenue.


Steven Rosenfeld

Steven Rosenfeld is a senior writing fellow and the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is a national political reporter focusing on democracy issues. He has reported for nationwide public radio networks, websites, and newspapers and produced talk radio and music podcasts. He has written five books, including profiles of campaigns, voter suppression, voting rights guides and a WWII survival story currently being made into a film. His latest book is Democracy Betrayed: How Superdelegates, Redistricting, Party Insiders, and the Electoral College Rigged the 2016 Election (Hot Books, March 2018).

MORE FROM Steven Rosenfeld

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Alternet Elizabeth Warren Income Inequality Joseph Stiglitz Roosevelt Institute

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