Recession

Obama's Populist Address Features Inequality, Mobility, and Fairness

December 9, 2011
Publication Image

It’s a busy time of year. Perhaps you didn’t hear President Obama’s December 6thspeech in Osawatomie, Kansas. It’s worth a closer look—both for its specific language and general themes. The speech was a billed as a thematic statement of Obama’s vision for the economy and if that’s the case, we can expect to hear more in the coming campaign about inequality, mobility, opportunity, and even fairness. Given the state of the economy, we should expect these issues to attract attention, but still the speech sounded like a departure for a president who has often shied away from taking a populist stance. 

I’ll be honest and say that Osawatomie had not previously been on my radar. But the choice of using this heartland town as the site for a major economic address was not accidental. In 1910, Teddy Roosevelt delivered what’s been called his “New Nationalism” speech, a milestone for the progressive era, where he called upon government to regulate capitalism and elevate the public interests above those of money and property. The press reports piqued my interest and I tracked down TR’s address. Reading it, I was surprised by how contemporary it felt.

TR used his address to rail against the rising power of corporations and moneyed interests that “too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics.” The very triumph of America was at stake, which at that time held the hopes of anyone believing in the desirability of democratic and popular government. Property was to be respected and protected but not given undue influence – and certainly not “the right of suffrage.” (We should send this speech to the current Roberts Court.) TR believed that the unleveled playing field was tipping the scales of justice and the promise of America could only be realized with “practical equality of opportunity for all citizens.”

“…when we achieve it, will have two great results. First, every man will have a fair chance to make of himself all that in him lies; to reach the highest point to which his capacities, unassisted by special privilege of his own and unhampered by the special privilege of others, can carry him, and to get for himself and his family substantially what he has earned. Second, equality of opportunity means that the commonwealth will get from every citizen the highest service of which he is capable. No man who carries the burden of the special privileges of another can give to the commonwealth that service to which it is fairly entitled.

I stand for the square deal. But when I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the games, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service.”

Pardon the dated gender language and my bolding of the passage, but for me all it would take to make this passage ring true today is a few new pronouns. Now, let’s see how President Obama picks up on these ideas in his speech delivered over a hundred years later. 

How are Families Really Doing? Part 3: Economic Mobility

December 7, 2011
Publication Image

This is the third in a series of interviews with policy experts who participated in an event we hosted on November 22nd, "Poverty, Inequality, Mobility, Oh My," where we explored different ways of assessing how families are doing post-Great Recession and how applying these different approaches to the design of public policies might improve the conditions and opportunities of low-income families.

How are Families Really Doing? Part 2: Poverty

December 5, 2011
Publication Image

This is the second in a series of interviews with policy experts who participated in an event we hosted on November 22nd, "Poverty, Inequality, Mobility, Oh My," where we explored different ways of assessing how families are doing post-Great Recession and how applying these different approaches to the design of public policies might improve the conditions and opportunities of low-income families.

Explaining China’s Falling Current Account Balance

  • By
  • Samuel Sherraden,
  • New America Foundation
December 15, 2011

China’s surplus fell from 10.1% of GDP in 2007 to 5.2% in 2010.  Whether its current account will continue to decline or will return to higher levels seen in the mid-2000s is a subject of considerable disagreement.

How are Families Really Doing? Part 1: Economic Security

December 2, 2011
Publication Image

In the coming days, we will be releasing a series of interviews with policy experts who participated in a event we hosted on November 22nd, "Poverty, Inequality, Mobility, Oh My," where we explored different ways of assessing how families are doing post-Great Recession and how applying these different approaches to the design of public policies might improve the conditions and opportunities of low-income families.

How are Families Really Doing?

December 1, 2011

Two years after the official end of worst recession since the Great Depression, the economy is recovering but families are not. According to a flurry of new data, poverty and inequality are reaching historic highs and the current of economic mobility is flowing most forcefully down the economic ladder. 

Follow-Up: Poverty, Inequality, Mobility, Oh My!

November 23, 2011

On November 22nd, the Asset Building Program hosted a panel of experts to discuss how Americans are faring in the years since the Great Recession according to different measures. (Video from the event is available here.) Speakers from Wider Opportunities for Women, the Half in Ten Campaign, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Pew’s Economic Mobility Project joined moderator, Rachel Black, for a discussion of current data and indicators, who’s falling short according to these measures and by how much, and policy ideas for  making progress.

Podcast: Wealth Inequality and Occupy Wall Street

November 17, 2011


In this podcast, Reid Cramer, director of the Asset Building Program at New America, describes the new dynamics of inequality that emerged in the wake of the Great Recession and have given rise to the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Without dramatic changes to the housing market and policy efforts designed to get families out from under the overhang of debt, significant wealth inequality will persist for years to come. This is particularly apparent when recognizing  the staggering growth of the racial wealth gap. Today, November 17th, marks the two month anniversary of the protests, which should be applauded for initiating a national conversation about equality, mobility, and opportunity.

Bi-Sectoralism III: Strength From Within

November 16, 2011

This is the third column in a series by Bruce Jentleson, Professor at Duke University, and Jay Pelosky, Principal of J2Z Advisory. It originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

Recovery and Resiliency

November 14, 2011

CASA of Oregon, Neighborhood Partnerships, and NeighborWorks Umpqua hosted Rebuilding the Path of Opportunity: An Oregon Asset Builders' Conference on November 9-10. Rachel Black presented "Recovery and Resiliency" at a plenary exploring the landscape of policy options to expand savings opportunities among lower-income households from the local to the national level. In the presentation, she gives a federal policy perspective and argues that helping households build financial resiliency through savings should be a core part of the economic recovery agenda.

Syndicate content