Sessions

In addition to the strong progressive leaders who will be leading keynote sessions at EconCon 2020, we’ve also put together a fantastic lineup of breakout sessions. Anyone interested in robust discussions about how to shift the public conversation beyond neoliberalism, how progressives can think and talk about balancing public and private power, how to win people over with an inclusive progressive agenda, and what we should all be ready to do in 2021 – is going to be very excited about the EconCon 2020 breakout sessions.

Breakout: It’s January 2021, now what?: The day one economic agenda

This panel will discuss the immediate steps that we can take when President Trump leaves the White House to build an economy that works for all of us. We will discuss the tools available to us on day one as well as the legislation that Congress should take up right away to move us toward an economy that works for everyone. We will also discuss what progressives should focus on in 2021 if President Trump remains in the White House.

Breakout: Organizing to defeat corporate power: Lessons from recent victories

Neoliberalism has increased corporate power at the expense of the people who actually make up the economy, which has led to our democratic institutions getting weaker, our families getting sicker, and our workers falling further and further behind. It doesn’t have to be this way, but the only way it will change is if we build our power from the bottom up and include the marginalized communities that neoliberalism has left behind. In the past few years we’ve seen incredible efforts to take on corporate giants, monopolists, Wall Street, big Tech, and others. This panel will discuss the organizing strategies and tactics that have led to victory against entrenched corporate power, and how we can apply these lessons to future campaigns.

Breakout: Institutional racism, corporate capture, and public policy: Building informal power to hold government accountable

Many people don’t trust the government to solve their problems, and often with good reason. From slavery, to ICE detention faciliaties at the border, to corporate capture of regulators, and so much more – governments throughout history have engaged in racist and corporatist actions that have undermined our public power and sense of belonging. But public power isn’t just the power wielded by formal government institutions, it’s the power all of us build when we join together. This panel will discuss how government has stood in the way of economic progress and how we can work together to build the power we need to truly hold government accountable to the people.

Breakout: Worker power and democratic power: The importance of unions and worker organizations in accomplishing both

When most people think about unions, they think about the important work they do to make sure workers have leverage and power in negotiations with their employers. But a strong labor movement is also critical in serving as a check against corporate and conservative power in government policymaking. When workers have power our schools are better funded, our trade agreements are more fair, our food and drugs are safer, our roads and bridges are invested in  – and the list goes on and on. This panel will discuss how workers’ power and a progressive economy is inextricably linked, and how building power as voters and workers will be mutually reinforcing.

Breakout: Should progressives focus on identity or the economy?: Rejecting false choices to build a strong and multiracial post-neoliberal economy

A post-neoliberal worldview is coming, and as we’ve seen in other countries, it can be multiracial and inclusive or it can be populist and white nationalist. This panel will discuss the false choices that are often presented between the “economy” and “identity” and the importance of pluralistic economic populism.

Breakout: Everything you learned in Econ 101 is wrong: TheEconCon crashcourse in how the economy really works

The invisible hand, “free” markets, the stock market as a barometer for the health of an economy, and more – millions of Americans have learned these myths in economics classes, but they simply aren’t true. This panel will discuss the errors in these myths and how they have been so damaging. And they will lay out what an accurate Econ 101 would focus on: consumer purchasing power, government regulation of markets, balanced public and private power, and inclusive prosperity.

Breakout: Right direction or wrong track?: What voters actually think about the economy and how progressives can win them over

Years of conservative propaganda has had an impact on how many people think about the economy, but this can be reversed. This panel will give an overview of recent polls on the economy and talk through progressive economic messages that effectively persuade, move, and activate people.

Breakout: Moving from the next quarter to the next century: How short-termism is jeopardizing our economy and our climate and what we can do to stop it

Our economy, society, and planet are facing massive long-term challenges – but policymakers and powerful corporate interests are too often focused on how they can maximize their short-term victories and profits. This panel will discuss how this fundamental flaw in the neoliberal worldview is breaking our economy and preventing us from making any meaningful progress toward tackling critical issues like the climate crisis. They will dig into how the climate crisis is an economic issue – and how a progressive worldview that rejects short-termism can help us save the planet, fix our economy, and reduce income inequality.

Breakout: How inequality is destroying our democracy and how tax policy will help save it

One of the major problems in our economy and government right now is our failure to use our tax code aggressively to address massive wealth and income inequality and the erosion of our democracy. This panel will talk about how an aggressive, progressive tax code will help rebalance public and private power, move away from our for-sale democracy – and bring in some new revenue in the process. This panel will also talk about the promise of taxes on wealth and capital as a tool for restoring our democracy.

Breakout: Race, power and the economy

Deliberate policy choices have created systemic inequities and have determined who has economic and political power in the U.S. and across the world, but policy and organizing can be used to dismantle these inequities and redistribute wealth and power. This panel will look at who makes these choices, who has access and control over capital, and who defines cultural narratives and societal norms. We’ll also discuss how building worker power is key to a more equitable economy for black and brown workers, immigrant workers, domestic workers, home care workers, restaurant workers, retail workers, and ALL workers.

Breakout: Big Victories, Smaller Scale: Winning bold racial and economic justice fights in states and cities

Amidst the attention on national politics and the policy ideas in the 2020 campaign, this EconCon panel will examine the ways that progressives can win big, race-forward economic policy victories at the state and local level. We will hear from leaders in the progressive movement who have married traditional think-tank policy expertise, tactical organizing strategies, and political leadership to move big ideas that improve peoples’ lives in areas like restorative climate justice, worker justice, consumer protection, college affordability and student debt, and healthcare.

Breakout: A New Vision for Government Assistance Programs: From safety nets to inclusive foundations for all families

In the last three years, community organizing groups have been on the front lines of fighting against the draconian cuts and other obstacles to accessing safety net programs—Medicaid and SNAP, in particular—that threaten to both undermine the health and safety of families and the possibility for political solidarity between Black, brown, and white low-income families and their communities. Nonetheless, organizing in communities and states around the country has yielded real success beating back work requirements and cuts in spending. In the process of these fights, a new vision for the safety net, its scale and who has access, is emerging—and with it, the potential for a stronger political movement is growing. In this session, we will hear from organizers in the field who have been on the front lines of fighting against Trump’s attacks on the safety net and they will share both the political lessons they are learning and the bold vision for change that is emerging.

Breakout: Measuring prosperity in the age of inequality

The changing landscape of the American economy has diminished the value of standard barometers of economic prosperity. We see this across many different domains: the accumulation of wealth and income, the impact of inflation, and the means through which consumption is financed. The common thread is inequality. Inequality has changed how our economy works and who it benefits. Old measures of economic progress can set up policymakers and the public at large to misunderstand how the economy works and what to do to create broad-based prosperity.

This panel will push back against prevailing economic narratives that use aggregate headline statistics and help attendees to start thinking about how the right economic metrics will change the country’s dominant economic narratives and lead to better policy.

Breakout: Four case studies of pushing back against the neoliberal narrative: Robots, racism, the minimum wage, and unions

Panelists will use four different policy debates–around robots, race, the minimum wage, and unions–to discuss how to push back against the neoliberal framing of the way the economy works. Part of this reframing involves identifying what the standard story gets wrong. Part involves developing and conveying a new and compelling narrative.

Breakout: The Myth of Free Trade: Why a new approach to trade is needed

Trade can be a powerful tool to foster economic security and spur economic growth by increasing workers’ bargaining power, opening up new markets and customers for American businesses, and driving innovation and productivity. However, wealthy multinational corporations have used trade agreements to consolidate their economic and political power and increase profits, leading to a global race to the bottom between countries in wages, working conditions, and environmental and health standards. This panel will discuss how a progressive approach to trade would curb the extractive power of corporations and increase the power of working people, families and consumers at home and abroad.

Breakout: Organizing for our Economic Future: Campaigns that challenge racial capitalism

This conversation focuses on how powerbuilding organizations are exploring and running campaigns that deliberately take on racial capitalism, while winning material victories and building power, especially in communities of color. The panel will discuss economic justice and democracy campaigns, as well as tackling the dynamics of driving an ambitious vision of a progressive political economy in coalitions in different parts of the country.

Breakout: Why rural America needs to be on the 2020 agenda

The dominant narratives about rural America frequently neglect the diverse voices across different regions, sectors and communities. Rural America also faces diverse challenges—from health to monopoly to wages, and of course climate change—yet public discourse about rural America’s economic woes that is far too narrow, leading to inadequate policy solutions. This panel will dispel myths, provide a broader context for rural issues, and outline solutions that work.

Breakout: Why anti-monopoly work is core to the progressive movement

Amidst growing concern over the largess of tech companies and deeply rooted monopolies across agriculture and healthcare, research now shows that increased corporate concentration costs the average American household $5,000 each year. Join Economic Security Project Executive Director Taylor Jo Isenberg as she convenes a panel of experts to examine the full ecosystem of anti-monopoly work and why we need to center power when we talk about corporate concentration.

Breakout: Philanthropic strategies toward moving the economic paradigm

Leaders from leading global foundations will discuss why philanthropy should care about a new economic paradigm. Representing work on a cross-section of issues – from climate to racial justice to economic security – our panelists will detail why moving beyond neoliberalism should be a goal for those who really care about improving working people’s lives and the specific strategies their foundations are taking today.

Breakout: Beyond the Safety Net: Using public options to guarantee essential goods and services for all of us

The purpose of the panel is to highlight the emerging trend across policy areas—higher education, financial services, prescription drug policy, health insurance, and more—away from an approach that assumes the private sector can solve public problems for all but an unlucky few, and toward one deploys the direct public provisioning of goods and services to meet public needs. The discussion will highlight important features of public provisioning and its benefits, across what are too-often silo’d issue areas.  A panel of researchers and advocates will discuss how public options and public provisioning can serve as a check on corporate extraction; close racial and gender disparities; and provide greater accountability than today’s market-driven approach.

Breakout: Winning the Economy Debate in Trump’s Administration

President Trump’s claims about the strength of the economy rely on a number of misperceptions about what makes an economy strong. In this panel we’ll breakdown Trump’s misleading claims and analyze his actual record on the economy: record breaking tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, trade deals that put corporations before workers, and widening racial disparities in the labor market. We’ll also highlight the best messaging and data progressives can marshal to effect policy change under the Trump Administration.

Breakout: Uncovering the Hidden Hand of Wall Street Behind Everything You Love

Too often, the processes that drive inequality are mystified and hidden, and that is especially the case in the worlds of Wall Street and financialization. This participatory training will surface the hidden role Wall Street plays in harming communities and how its profits depend on racial, gender, and economic injustice. We’ll help participants explore how uncovering Wall Street profiteering can help campaigns identify new targets and new levers in fights for affordable housing, criminal justice reform, healthcare, and education. Participants will leave the training with concrete tools to fight Wall Street wealth extraction from our communities, the growing power of finance over all aspects of the economy, structural racism, and the patriarchy.

Breakout: The Economics of Taxation

Our labyrinthine tax code – and all the power over social policy and resource distribution it wields – can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. The Economics of Taxation is a course on understanding and evaluating tax proposals taught by Greg Leiserson, Director of Tax Policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. The course will provide an introduction to both the mechanics of the tax system, such as how credits and deductions work and how the individual and corporate income taxes differ, and the economics of taxation, including how to read and use economic analyses of tax proposals put out by government scorekeepers and private organizations. The course will provide attendees with the ability to effectively analyze how proposed tax changes affect the living standards and, more generally, how they can either ameliorate or exacerbate economic inequality by income, wealth, race, and gender.