Making the economy work for mom

Read Chris Hughes’s new piece in TIME

Earlier this week, our Co-founder and Co-chair Chris Hughes wrote in TIME, “We are witnessing the most profound realignment in American political economy in nearly forty years.” His piece, “The Free Market is Dead: What Will Replace It?,” makes the case that our country is leaving behind the conventional wisdom that markets are natural and shouldn’t be touched, and embracing one where the state deploys regulation, public investment, and macroeconomic management to make our economy work.

It’s a seismic shift. But the work ahead of us is shaping the new common sense about political economy into a practical program to deliver on its promise — which is why our fights have never been more urgent.

Our report on The Year of Checks highlights how the $850 billion in direct payments sent to Americans’ checking accounts played a leading role in helping Americans keep their heads above water during this recession — reducing poverty; helping families cover basic needs; filling in the gaps in other programs, particularly for Black and Latinx households; boosting small business revenue; and increasing state and local revenues.

The American Rescue Plan also expanded and made monthly the child tax credit (CTC), effectively creating a guaranteed income for children and families. Alongside other expansions of policies like the EITC, this was the year that cash broke through as a smart policy and winning politics.

But with low-wage workers and communities of color still facing alarmingly high unemployment and difficulty meeting basic needs, there is more work still ahead of us. We’ve set our target on making sure the expanded cash policies are permanent: if our goal is for our communities to not only survive, but thrive, then families don’t just need short-term relief, but long-term stability. What was true before the pandemic will be true as we emerge from the economic crisis: “Families know what they need, and family needs change from week to week,” says Co-founder and Co-chair Natalie Foster in CNBC.

Efforts to constrain the power of monopolies is also gaining traction with the House Judiciary Committee officially adopting last summer’s groundbreaking report on monopoly power in the digital economy two weeks ago. A thorough investigation of the harms of excessive market power, the report is an acknowledgment from Congress that our current antitrust laws insufficiently protect the balance of power in our economy and democracy. The recommendations they detail — from structural separation, non-discrimination regimes, and other regulatory mechanisms — signal a more hands-on role for government oversight. This sets the stage for legislation that could bring about a more fair, inclusive economy.

Our partners and grantees are at the forefront of the fight demanding that we deliver on those recommendations: they include Color of Change, which has been advocating for merger review to reflect a racial justice framework and examine the disparate impact on Black workers, small businesses, and communities and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which recently launched Small Business Rising. This coalition of small businesses is calling on policymakers to take action against monopolies engaging in abusive tactics that ultimately lower wages for workers and accumulate power for the wealthiest.

As Chris highlighted in TIME, it’s time to take action: “Over 80% of voters say they are concerned about the impact that consolidation of big technology corporations, in particular, have had on small businesses, and 70% of Republicans support breaking them up.” Through our work and the work of countless others, people are seeing the consequences of our rapidly concentrating economy.

As we pursue our vision for a just economy, it’s critical to ground our work in the experience of those who we aim to make the economy work for: on Monday, May 3rd, we hosted a Mother’s Day conversation with Insight Center President Anne Price, Director of Expecting Justice, Dr. Zea Malawa and CEO to Springboard to Opportunities, Dr. Aisha Nyandoro, moderated by Fordham University Professor and author Dr. Christina Greer. The panel, “Celebrating Black Moms, Cash as Care,” will focus on our new report about how guaranteed income can improve Black maternal health, including results from Dr. Nyandoro’s Magnolia Mother’s Trust and Dr. Malawa’s plans for the Abundant Birth Project, which begins cash payments to Black and Pacific Islander mothers this summer.

Watch the webinar: Celebrating Black Moms, Cash As Care

While we will get a chance to discuss these exciting examples of a guaranteed income, the debate in Congress holds enormous immediate implications for the real-world experience of the mothers they support. The Child Tax Credit is expected to cut the child poverty rate in half for the year its expansion lasts. Black children, who make up 14 percent of all children in the U.S., account for more than 25 percent of children living below the poverty line. Making this monthly tax credit a permanent feature would immensely improve outcomes for caregivers and children alike. As the Magnolia Mother’s Trust has already demonstrated, it would go further in easing stress, ensuring nutritional and educational gains and allow people to escape the financial vulnerability that they’ve known for generations.

The Economic Security Project challenges the status quo by catalyzing ideas that build economic power for all Americans.

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Economic Security Project

Economic Security Project

The Economic Security Project challenges the status quo by catalyzing ideas that build economic power for all Americans.

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