Third Way Perspectives
Archive for January, 2009
January 21st, 2009
All of us at Third Way watched President Obama’s inauguration with deep emotion and enormous pride in our country.
Below is his magnificent inauguration speech. Below that is the inaugural poem by Elizabeth Alexander. As she so eloquently wrote, today “anything can be made, any sentence begun.” We greet this new day in America with that spirit.
January 12th, 2009
As the nation grapples with an historic economic crisis, we write with five ideas that we hope you’ll consider. These ideas have a single aim—to restore the fortunes and confidence of the middle class—which we believe is the key to a long-term recovery.
Unemployment and foreclosure rates are on the rise, and the recovery plan must provide triage for those in desperate circumstances. But the recovery will be predicated even more on the majority of middle-class Americans who will keep their jobs and homes. What they’ve lost are wealth and confidence, both of which must be restored if there is to be a long-term recovery. Middle-class Americans have faced a shattering reversal in their fortunes—stomach-lurching losses in their 401(k)s and home values and an increasing litany of anxieties. Can a family can still afford to send a child to college? Is a retirement with some semblance of comfort still attainable? Even those who have the means are tightening their investments and spending, thereby accelerating the downward spiral.
As critical as it is to strengthen the safety net of unemployment benefits, food stamps and other emergency aid, we must also offer highly visible help to those who may not be on the precipice but who nonetheless hold the mood and confidence of the nation in their hands. These households are in the prime of their working years and earn between $40,000 and $100,000—too wealthy, in fact, for most safety-net programs such as food stamps but not nearly wealthy enough to have benefited from conservative trickle-down policies. These are the households that will lead the nation out of recession—if their confidence is restored.