A Checklist for Biden’s Economic Plans

May 21, 2021

Four questions policymakers should be asking now.

The Roosevelt Rundown features our top stories of the week.

Structural Change Starts with Policy Structure

One goal of the American Families Plan, the latest of President Biden’s major economic proposals: to restructure the economy by investing in families and industries often left behind.

One caveat: Achieving structural change won’t be possible without the right policy structure, as Roosevelt’s Suzanne Kahn explains in a new blog post.

Among the AFP’s greatest structural strengths, Kahn writes, is policy visibility.

When people regularly experience the benefits of a policy and—just as importantly—know government was responsible for those benefits, they are more likely to fight for that policy’s permanence. Social Security and Medicare, for example, boast unyielding support because of those positive feedback loops, and threats to their existence activate passionate defenders.

Several AFP policies have the potential to build similar constituencies. An extension of the American Rescue Plan’s expanded Child Tax Credit—which now functions as a recurring cash payment—and four additional years of free public education are tangible, everyday reminders of what government can do. 

While the AFP visibly strengthens public power, it’s less effective in constraining corporate power, Kahn argues. 

The plan’s subsidies for health care, and its policy capping childcare costs at 7 percent of income for low- and middle-income families, would provide substantial and vital relief for millions of families. But to prevent insurance companies and service-providers from raising costs and extracting new profits from government funds, policymakers should be thoughtful about setting guardrails and service requirements and pairing investments with democratic governance structures.

To help, Kahn outlines four questions policymakers should ask themselves when designing public investment plans.

For more Roosevelt analysis of Biden’s economic plans, click here.


How Incarcerated People Are Excluded from Full Employment Targets

“What is currently considered full employment doesn’t include 2.3 million incarcerated people—who are largely in prison due to the racist criminal justice policies that result in higher arrests, convictions, and sentences for Black and brown people,” Roosevelt’s Lauren Melodia writes for the blog. 

“If we do not acknowledge people in prison and drug rehabilitation programs as job-seekers and create space in the economy for them to return to, the US will be unable to break the recidivism rate that fuels mass incarceration to this day.”

Learn more.


What We’re Reading

The Black Box Economy [feat. Roosevelt’s Mike Konczal] – Vox

Why Jerome Powell and the Fed Should Ignore the Inflation HawksThe New Yorker

The Myth of Labor ShortagesNew York Times

Don’t Sleep on Asian American VotersThe Atlantic