September 2010: A Roundtable Discussion on the Consequences of Inequality in Washington, D.C.

Energized by the rich dialogue she witnessed at Tobin’s spring inequality conference, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) offered to co-host a roundtable discussion between policymakers and scholars in Washington, D.C. The meeting brought together key administration officials and Congressional leaders with Tobin-affiliated scholars to explore the potential consequences of dramatic economic inequality in the United States.

Participants discussed new research on the trends in, and implications of, income concentration in the control of a shrinking share of the wealthiest Americans. The academics and policymakers exchanged information about how the recent recession is likely to affect the income distribution and shared insights about the potential consequences of rising inequality for the vitality of our economic and political systems, as well as for social capital in our communities. Rather than discussing short-term political strategies, the participants focused on the long-term public policy challenges illuminated by the scholars' research.

Shortly after participating in this event, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a member of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, introduced an alternate federal deficit reduction plan reflecting ideas raised during the roundtable discussion. Emphasizing the consequences of economic inequality on long-term economic growth, Schakowsky’s plan underscored the drop in middle class incomes over the last ten years as compared to the drastically increasing incomes of the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

Participants in the meeting included:

Jared Bernstein (Chief Economist, Office of the Vice President)
Rep. Michael Capuano
Rep. Jim Cooper
Jacob Hacker
(Yale University, Political Science)
Lane Kenworthy (University of Arizona, Sociology and Political Science)
David Moss (Harvard Business School)
Bob Putnam (Harvard Kennedy School)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky
Jim Segel (Special Counsel to Congressman Barney Frank)
Tim Smeeding (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Economics)
Rep. Jackie Speier
William Spriggs (Assistant Secretary for Policy, Department of Labor)


News Category: 
Economic Inequality
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