I’d like to draw your attention to this extraordinary essay by President Obama in The Economist. It stands out for two reasons. First, it provides what has been sorely missing from the bizarre 2016 presidential race – a progressive roadmap for restoring America’s economic dynamism.
Second, President Obama’s approach to reversing nearly two decades of slow economic growth is uncannily parallel to the Progressive Policy Institute’s policy blueprint for pro-growth progressives: Unleashing Innovation and Growth: A Progressive Alternative to Populism.
Both documents reject populist claims that the U.S. economy is a “disaster” or a game hopelessly rigged by Wall Street or billionaires and focus instead on the main driver of meager wage gains and growing inequality – slumping productivity growth. As the President notes, one reason for the slowdown is lagging private investment – a problem PPI also has been highlighting in multiple studies of the nation’s “investment drought.”
We also agree with many of the President’s key prescriptions for putting America back on a high-growth path. To highlight just a few:
- Pro-growth tax reform, including lowering business taxes and closing special interest loopholes.
- Expanding U.S. exports and passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership to strengthen global trade rules.
- Lowering college costs, not just expanding education subsidies.
- Making work pay by expanding tax credits for low-income workers.
Why is all this important? Because despite all the rhetoric about “inclusive growth,” in this election, we’re hearing a lot more about distributing existing wealth than creating new wealth. To speak to the hopes and aspirations of working families, Democrats need to balance that equation.