In 2023, we helped usher in a new paradigm for the economy, centering people and communities, instead of corporations and billionaires.
It was a year of big wins and big momentum. This was abundantly clear at our flagship event, Bold New Consensus, at New York’s historic Cooper Union. Visionary speakers, from Anand Giridharadas to Darrick Hamilton to Secretary Pete Buttigieg to Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom, outlined ways to transform our economy in areas from infrastructure to public AI. Hundreds of elected officials, researchers, funders, activists, and community leaders networked and strategized around the new economic consensus on stage, in the audience, and throughout the hallways.
By fostering that budding consensus we drove huge wins on cash policies. We achieved legislative victories for new and expanded tax credits worth $2 billion in seventeen states including Colorado, Maryland, and Montana, helping over 4 million households put food on the table and provide for their families. Blue and red states alike championed the undeniable power of cash. And more states are on the horizon: California launched its first state-funded guaranteed income pilot programs, and our actions and events such as Moms Deserve the Credit and Cashing In sustained the momentum. And we continued to make headway in the campaign for an expanded federal Child Tax Credit. ESP’s Vice President of Campaigns & Political Strategy, Adam Ruben, made the case on CNN, The Hill, and NPR; President Biden called for reinstating the full CTC; nearly every House Democrat has signed on in support, and Senate leaders have reintroduced legislation to restore the expanded program.
We’ve rapidly expanded the national movement for guaranteed income. The Guaranteed Income Community of Practice (GICP) has grown to nearly 1,000 policy experts, activists, community leaders, elected officials, researchers, and funders, from the 125 we started with. These members are leading the way, moving from launching pilots (144 and counting) to spearheading guaranteed income policies for former foster kids and immigrants excluded from unemployment support. In the media, our movement renewed the national conversation, highlighting the effectiveness of pilots through stories on the CBS Evening News featuring a mother buying soccer cleats for her kids; inspirational profiles in the Chicago Sun Times; and a KQED Forum episode featuring ESP President and co-founder Natalie Foster.
We’re building the field with research and analysis of worker power, the fight for the expanded CTC, and the intersection of guaranteed income and immigration law, creating a deeply informed movement that replaces myths and stereotypes with facts, research, and firsthand experience. Our work has brought guaranteed income to a tipping point: We now see leaders like former President Obama citing the success of our pilots to make the case for a guaranteed income.
When Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) this year, we focused on how to make sure those investments put public dollars into the public good. We rallied behind an option for free and easy tax filing to break the stranglehold of tax prep companies, launched a Public Options Fund to catalyze new efforts to make government work in people’s lives, and hosted a convening to Unleash the Power of Public Options. As the cost of essential goods and services continues to challenge people and communities, we will continue to advance alternatives to make those necessities more affordable. In Illinois, we partnered with Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson on a pilot public grocery store, and told a compelling story in The Chicago Tribune, ABC News and WBEZ/NPR about the role of public options in addressing food deserts.
Moving the concentrated power of massive corporations and billionaires back to people and communities forms the foundation of our vision to shape markets. We helped break down monopoly power by supporting a powerful rule banning noncompete agreements; testifying before the Federal Trade Commission; and funding grassroots organizations, academics, and activists to find creative ways to return power to families. We rallied behind the FTC’s proposed merger guidelines, publicly supported the FTC in the blockbuster Google case, and blocked Republican efforts to curb some of the boldest antitrust action in the last 40 years. And we are helping ensure the technologies of the future don’t accelerate the monopoly harms of the past, by bringing our same approach to shaping markets to Artificial Intelligence (AI). 2024 will be a critical year for establishing an AI market structure that centers equity, transparency, and innovation. That’s why we’ve begun exploring how to shape the AI market by holding the first Antimonopoly & AI event in DC with ESP co-founder Chris Hughes and Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator Founder Ganesh Sitaraman, a discussion we continued with Elizabeth Kelly and Dr. Sarah Myers West at Bold New Consensus.
Because culture shapes policy, we’re transforming the cultural conversation to robustly reflect the benefits of an economy that works for everyone. We resourced GI-focused organizations and participants with storytelling grants, a guide, and one-on-one communications training. We backed innovative media projects such as the GUARANTEED podcast with Dr. Eve L. Ewing, and cheered on ESP Board Member Aisha Nyandoro on the TED talk stage as she redefined the meaning of wealth to include freedom, agency, and equity. We brought communities together through events like the high-energy Art Guaranteed in Chicago, where GI participants joined artists and filmmakers to tell their personal stories of how cash gave them agency and autonomy.
As we move into 2024, we have strengthened our organization to more effectively capitalize on wins and push harder for families, by welcoming to the Board of Economic Security Project Action two new directors: longtime partner K. Sabeel Rahman, a professor at Cornell Law School and co-director of the Law and Political Economy Project; and Ben Chin, Deputy Director of Maine People’s Alliance. We are thrilled that Sabeel and Ben will bring to ESP Action their bold vision and practical expertise on moving power back to communities.