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Illustration: Greg Ruben/Axios

Reinvigorated corporate governance could be key to bringing the "blue wave" to shore this November.

At least, that's what seems to be the thinking of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who just unveiled a new plan that would, among other things, let large company employees elect around 40% of that company's board of directors.

The details: It's called the Accountable Capitalism Act. Here's the bill text.

  • It focuses on companies with at least $1 billion in revenue, and would require them to obtain a federal charter via a proposed U.S. Commerce Department office, obligating them to consider the interests of all corporate stakeholders (i.e., shareholders, employees, community). One immediate consequence could be reduction in successful shareholder lawsuits on fiduciary grounds.
  • It would prevent officers or directors from selling stock within five years of receipt or within three years of a company stock buyback.
  • It would prevent companies from making political candidate expenditures without approval of 75% of directors or shareholders.

No, this isn't going to become law, particularly with the current Congress. And the proposed "corporate charter" requirements are way too vague to be practically applied.

But, politically speaking, it could be the sort of pro-worker, economic populism that Democrats successfully adopt to contrast themselves with Trump, without veering to the anti-capitalist left. A pitch that emphasizes how much of the 2017 tax cuts were used by corporations for stock buybacks rather than for substantially increased wages.

  • It's also something that I could see some big companies supporting (at least publicly), given that it's not a tax, and could further inoculate themselves from the socialist specter.

The bottom line: Warren's proposal is DOA as legislation, but it could be the beginning of a very loud conversation.

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.