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June 01, 2021

Henry Burke

Blog Post

Government CapacityIRS

How Revitalizing the IRS Can Help Save Democracy

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is tasked with ensuring Americans follow tax laws. The IRS not only audits everyday Americans and foreign nationals with US tax liabilities but also maintains the power to investigate wealthy individuals and corporations for tax avoidance or other forms of malfeasance. Despite its crucial role in enforcing federal taxes laws (or, more aptly, because of this role), Republican austerity has systematically dismantled the IRS over the past decade.

May 28, 2021

Andrea Beaty Henry Burke

Blog Post

Anti-MonopolyFTCGovernment Capacity

Hobbled FTC Lacks Budget To Combat Corporate Buying Spree

Progressives have been encouraged by President Biden’s choices of anti-monopoly leadership in Lina Khan, Tim Wu, and (potentially) Jonathan Kanter. But in the interregnum between personnel announcements and actual confirmations, corporations are getting as many transactions done now as possible. And while the Biden Administration seems on the precipice of reining in the power of Big Tech and other monopolists soon, the FTC, one of the two agencies charged with enforcing antitrust law, continues to be hobbled by chronic underfunding.

May 13, 2021

Henry Burke

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionGovernment CapacityIndependent Agencies

100 Days in Office and Biden is Outpacing Obama

Presidents are only as effective as the administrations they assemble. FDR’s “brain trust,” for example, drove his effective first term. As President Biden seeks to surpass his predecessors’ accomplishments and become the most effective president of the past 60 years, the staff with whom he surrounds himself are essential. For over a thousand members of his team, Senate confirmation stands between them and the critical task ahead, making it crucial that Biden quickly make nominations to get these senior leaders working towards his vision as soon as possible. As the traditional post-New Deal metric of how a young administration is performing, the 100th day in office is a chance to look back on the Biden administration’s progress thus far and compare it to the Obama administration.

May 07, 2021

Henry Burke

Blog Post

Criminal JusticeDepartment of JusticeGovernment Capacity

The DOJ's Civil Rights Division is Perilously Unstaffed, Slowing Biden Goals on Police Oversight and Reform

Throughout the 2020 campaign, in the wake of nationwide protests over the murder of George Floyd and other unarmed black people by police officers, Joe Biden committed himself to reforming law enforcement and combating police violence. But significant challenges loom in Biden’s quest for police reform. The federal government’s role in state and local law enforcement agencies is limited, and Biden’s ability to shepherd police reform legislation through Congress will be hampered by Republican opposition and disinclined moderate Democrats. Despite these obstacles, however, Biden is not powerless to make strides towards his campaign goals. Through his Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, he holds a significant power over local policing.

April 14, 2021

Henry Burke

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionGovernment Capacity

Biden’s Build Back Better is Behind Schedule

On the campaign trail, Biden was reluctant to criticize any aspect of the “Obama-Biden” administration’s record. Since taking office, however, he has made perfectly clear that he is aware of, and has learned from, many of its mistakes. Having watched how an anemic stimulus package in 2009 delivered a slow, faltering recovery and political carnage, the Biden administration chose to go big with its economic response. This initial, consequential departure has earned Biden accolades and prompted a “growing narrative that he’s bolder and bigger-thinking than President Obama” (a narrative Biden reportedly loves). But while Biden may be surpassing Obama legislatively, he is lagging behind him when it comes to the pace of nominations, delaying policy implementation and preventing his administration from reaching its full potential.

April 14, 2021 | The American Prospect

Henry Burke Sion Bell

Op-Ed

Government Capacity

Biden’s Budget Should Build Back Even Better

President Biden’s inaugural annual budget request, which encompasses only discretionary spending (about a third of the federal budget), is a $1.52 trillion proposed investment in the federal government. The rest of the request, to be released later this spring, will include tax reforms and mandatory spending (which includes programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) and provide a fuller picture of the administration’s priorities.

April 02, 2021

Henry Burke

Blog Post

Government CapacityLabor

Biden's Budget Must Strengthen OSHA

Faced with a monumental workplace safety crisis in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has largely failed to protect workers. Decades of declining staffing levels left this critical agency unable to adapt to extraordinary conditions and support workers across the country when they most needed it. During his campaign, Joe Biden vowed to be the “strongest labor president you’ve ever had.” As he prepares to release his budget proposal for his first full financial year in office, the opportunity is fast approaching for Biden to put federal money where his mouth is. Biden must follow through on his pro-worker promises by expanding funding and employment levels for OSHA and OSHA state affiliates (among a slate of other sorely needed pro-labor policies) so that they have the capacity to safeguard workplace safety in times of crisis and otherwise.