To go along with the piece on growth and inequality that I discussed yesterday, TNR publishes an interview that author Jonathan Chait conducts with Robert Rubin and Peter Orszag, two very wonderful economic policy guys. In the discussion, they basically walk a perfect policy line, of the sort that makes you want to do damn near anything to get people like them back into the Executive.
They say some things that have been bandied about in the liberal blogosphere over the past few days: that the Bush tax cuts were unnecessary and unhelpful, butÂ ultimately not responsible for where we areÂ vis-a-vis inequality. That increasing the bargaining power of labor is important.Â And that taxation of corporate wealth needs to be improved.
They go beyond that, however, saying the important things that liberals really needÂ to get behind, as a package, if they’re interested in building a healthy economy over the long term. They repudiate economic nationalism, noting that trade and immigration restrictions would be incredibly unhelpful, but they wisely note that to maintain support for such policies, real efforts need to be made on improving the status of the labor force in world markets. They point out how important it is to improve our social safety nets while also maintaining fiscal discipline. And they point out, multiple times, that fighting inequality and sustaining growth is largely about investing heavily in education, infrastructure, and research. That’s so important. If you want long-term equality, you have to make sure everyone is getting an excellent education, and you have to make sure everyone has access to information and markets.
This is what good policy looks like, people. It doesn’t always sell well in elections and it isn’t sexy, but these are the right things to do.