Borosage, Robert L.

Robert L. Borosage is the founder and president of the Institute for America’s Future and co-director of its sister organization, the Campaign for America’s Future. The organizations were launched by 100 prominent Americans to develop the policies, message and issue campaigns to help forge an enduring majority for progressive change in America.

Who Pays The Bill For Wall Street's Mess?

By Robert Borosage

On Wednesday, House Republicans rolled out their budget plan in the Washington version of a Hollywood movie opening. There was a star turn for Budget Chair Paul Ryan at a conservative think tank. Gaseous rhetoric -- "liberties endangered, time to choose" -- fouled the air. There were dueling videos, and furious salvos of partisan messaging. And a backup document -- the "Path to Prosperity" -- festooned with tables for wonks to wallow in.

On Thursday, with fewer trumpets and less fanfare, the Congressional Progressive Caucus releases its budget plan -- A Budget for All.

The President's Corporate Tax Message: Say What?

By Robert Borosage

The Obama administration released a “framework” for corporate tax reform on Wednesday, proposing to lower corporate tax rates, and pay for that by closing various corporate tax loopholes.

The “framework” isn’t really a corporate tax reform proposal. It is a message document, framed in a bitterly partisan election year when no reforms are about to take place. So what is the message?

The president wants to show that he’s sensitive to business complaints about a tax code with the highest nominal corporate tax rates in the industrial world, outraged at the loopholes and scams built into the code, committed to providing incentives for business to create jobs here at home, and stout in opposing more corporate tax cuts unlike his Republican opponents.

Obama's Budget: the Good, the Meager and the Ugly

By Robert Borosage

President Obama’s budget, dismissed as “dead on arrival,” by Republicans in Washington, is widely described as a political document, designed to highlight the choices facing Americans this fall in dry budgetary numbers. The president presents Americans with a series of common sense propositions – all of which Republicans reject. Yet if the president captures high ground along the way, he leaves us, in the end, near the same uninhabitable place that conservatives would take us.

The common sense propositions proposed by the president include:

1. Priority to Jobs and Growth

The Obama State Of The Union: A Progressive View

By Robert Borosage
Institute for America’s Future

Last night in his State of the Union, President Obama presented himself as the champion of the American dream, or in his words, “the American promise” – “that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.” And the instrument of recovering that dream was clearly the need for smart, activist government.

Obama described what he considered necessary to revive the promise – and evoked America’s wistful desire for national unity by opening and closing the address by evoking the nation’s pride in its military. The speech was designed to set up the coming presidential campaign, drawing clear contrasts with Republicans, but the tone was more assured than combative. Here’s my take on what was in – and not in – the speech.

I. The Populist Moment Embraced

The Forgotten Leading Actor In The American Dream Story

By Robert Borosage
Institute for America’s Future

When Newt Gingrich maligned our "truly stupid" child labor laws and suggested that children 14 and under be put to work cleaning their schools, he sparked the outrage the former House speaker relishes. Less attention was paid to the other casualty of his proposition: "get rid of the unionized janitors."

This is the slur turned to high art: a little race bait posturing at "poor kids" who, Gingrich tells us, don't work like middle class kids do, and a shot at "unionized janitors"—almost by definition overpaid and lazy, whose work could be done by a grade-schooler.

Newt's blistering of child labor protections expresses his own perversity, but his scorn for union workers is a conservative staple. It's been a basic theme for the right since President Reagan broke the PATCO strike in 1981, and declared open season on unions for corporate employers.

Rick Perry: Standing Tall for the 1%

By Robert Borosage

Today, Rick Perry will release his “Cut, Balance and Grow” economic plan.

The details are yet to come, but from his initial press release, this is clearly a plan designed for the wealthiest Americans.

Perry would eliminate the estate tax that applies only to the wealthiest multi-million dollar estates. He would offer a choice between a quasi-flat tax of 20% (with deductions for mortgages, charities and state and local taxes) or the current code, essentially providing upper income taxpayers with a choice on how best to get a massive tax break. If Warren Buffett wants to insure billionaires never pay lower tax rates than their secretaries, Perry wants to guarantee they will never pay higher rates.

Ideological Inanity: The Republican Economic Debate

By Robert Borosage

The Republican debate on the economy was staged in New Hampshire, but quickly descended into a netherworld of Republican ideological cant.

Each candidate brought the idiosyncratic traits we’re learning to expect. Gingrich blustered about throwing Chris Dodd and Barney Frank into jail. Herman Cain touted Alan Greenspan – yes Alan Greenspan – as a great Fed Chair. That roused Ron Paul to come to the defense of the gold standard. Michelle Bachmann reminded us of all those children and her voice in the wilderness, where, as far as we can tell, she permanently resides. Rick Perry was AWOL most of the night, but aptly summarized the evening saying: “We don’t need to focus on this policy or that policy. We need to get America working again.”

On Jobs, Tell It Like It Is

By Robert Borosage

Washington is waiting for President Obama. Next week, the president has scheduled a big speech to propose new measures to create jobs and get the economy going. Reports are that the administration still has not decided whether to put forth a politically bold plan or propose measures that might pass the Republican Congress.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had it right when he told the president: "Do not look at what is possible -- look at what is necessary... If you only propose what you think they'll [the Republican Congress] accept, they control the agenda."

The Jobs Question

By Robert Borosage

President Obama is, in the lingo of the day, “pivoting to jobs.” His bus tour through the Midwest began the process, with the president recycling his current jobs-lite agenda: payroll tax cut extended, infrastructure bank, trade deals, tax cuts for companies that hire veterans, and patent reform—“things the Congress could do right now,” but nothing near the scope of the need.

Reports are that the president will unveil new proposals in September on jobs, and challenge the Congress to act. So what would a real jobs agenda look like?
Get the Challenge Right

Harry Reid's Appointments: Social Security And Medicare Now At Risk

By Robert Borosage
Campaign for America's Future

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced yesterday that his appointees to the super committee Gang of 12 were Sens. John Kerry, Patty Murray and Max Baucus. Reid chose not to appoint Sens. Bernie Sanders or Sherrod Brown or Jeff Merkley, who have forcefully stood with the majority of Americans who want Medicare and Social Security protected and who favor raising taxes on the rich to help reduce the deficit.

Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is a conservative Democrat. He has been a consistent supporter of Social Security, playing a key role in blocking President George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize the program. He was on President Obama's deficit commission but sensibly voted against the plan put forth by the co-chairs, which would have cut deeply from Social Security and Medicare.