I was having a coffee with someone at the Corner Bakery who argued that the problem with the policy agendas of people like me is that they’re way too complex.
“You couldn’t write it down on this little bag, for example,” he said.
The topic is: “Ways to reduce inequality and generate broadly shared prosperity.” I'll write it all down here because I’d hate to see the progressive revolution delayed because some yutz wrote the agenda on a brown bag.
▪ Full employment!
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▪ Low-income Households: educational opportunity, expand earned income tax credit, higher minimum wage, subsidized jobs (direct job creation).
▪ Middle class: affordable higher education, boost manufacturing through lower trade deficit!
▪ High end: close wasteful tax loopholes, financial market oversight (fewer bubbles), “financial transaction tax.”
I suppose you could argue there’s more to it. We need politicians committed to reconnecting growth and prosperity, and willing to write the budgets that will support the agenda. That implies a role for reducing the influence of money in politics, which could take up another whole bag. (BTW, the financial transaction tax is a tiny tax on security trades, like 0.03 percent — three one-hundredths of a percent — that would raise significant revenue while dampening unproductive volatile and high-speed trades.)
And another part of the agenda calls for protecting what we’ve got, from social insurance to labor laws to Obamacare.
But I just wanted to point out that there’s no great mystery to pushing back on the great economic disconnect. In fact, it’s in on the bag.
Jared Bernstein, a former chief economist to Vice President Biden, is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and author of “Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed?” among other books.
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