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“A brilliant book. And among the most important I've ever read."

― J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy

“No one has better articulated the conservative argument for why work matters . . ."

― Mitt Romney

“The essential policy book for our time . . . A must-read.”

― Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs

“. . . an unflinching indictment of the mistakes that Washington has made for a generation . . .”

― Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

“. . . welcome common ground for policy debates across partisan and ideological lines . . .”

― William A. Galston, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

Publication: Format: Topic:
Political Economics and the New Labor Market

There's a real problem with the argument that people don't understand how good things are. If the economic data are saying that things are wonderful and people in the country are saying things are not, we need to ask what the economic data is missing.

tags: 2016 Election, Basic Income, Education, Labor Market, Safety Net, Technology, Trade, Unemployment

Trump the Climate-Slayer

While Trump embarrasses himself and the country by calling climate change a 'hoax,' his climate policies mirror those outlined by his more conventional GOP primary opponents in 2016 and by GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. Hyperbolic warnings about Trump that emphasize climate are not really about Trump at all -- they are about Democrats losing to Republicans. Paul Krugman reflected the morning after the election on 'the immense damage Trump will surely do, to climate above all.' The Atlantic's Peter Beinart listed climate change as the first 'enormous danger' posed by Trump that might justify the Electoral College in overriding the election's outcome and choosing Clinton. They should save their extreme rhetoric about Trump for the facets of Trump that are in fact extreme.

tags: 2016 Election, Climate Change

The Trump-Climate Freakout

A Trump presidency offers many reasonable reasons to worry. But the fear that he will kill the planet, or even poor Zach, is at least one anxiety we can dispel.

tags: 2016 Election, Climate Change

Does David Brooks Think Barack Obama Is the Answer?

I'm pretty sure everyone believes 'social mobility happens within rich communities' and wants to ensure all Americans have 'a secure social and emotional base.' The relevant question is how to do that. Are such communities best created through individual initiative and enterprise or large government interventions?

tags: 2016 Election

Resisting the Tar of Trump's Brush

My Facebook feed is filled with posts from kind, intelligent people who are genuinely devastated that Trump could become president -- because of character, not policy. The Left would like nothing more than to channel that revulsion toward legitimate policy debates. Casting conservative policy as beyond the pale is nothing new, and the same pundits might be trying even if the president-elect were John Kasich, but Trump makes the task so much easier.

tags: 2016 Election

Examining the Scorecard

I was wrong to assume that it would be only the suburban white males who Clinton redirected. Many others seem to have clicked away in disgust. When the dust clears, the hot takes on the End of America cool, and the bags packed for Canada go back in the closet, Americans will realize that we aren't headed irrevocably toward a racially balkanized abyss.

tags: 2016 Election

Taking on Minimum Wage

You need economic growth to create jobs but I think it's important to realize that economic growth is a necessary but not sufficient condition. That you can also get an awful lot of economic growth that doesn't create an awful lot of jobs. If you see it as part of the government's mandate to not just maximize GDP but actually make sure that people from their diverse backgrounds with their diverse talents and capabilities can find a place in our economy, then policy needs to do a lot more than just say what maximizes economic growth.

tags: 2016 Election, Basic Income, Minimum Wage, Safety Net, Wage Subsidy

Know Your Rights

For Clinton and Obama, when the constitutional amendment at issue is the Fourth, it takes priority; when it is the Second, it must be carefully balanced. If a police officer thinks you look suspicious, your Fourth Amendment rights remain inviolate; if the FBI places you on a terror watch-list, your Second Amendment rights evaporate. Stop-and-frisk must end because it fails to deliver 'the kind of impact that we would want' in Clinton's words; but for gun-control measures, according to Obama, the standard should be that 'maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence.'

tags: 2016 Election, Constitutional Law

A More Enjoyable Presidential Debate

Donald, you did well in your primary fight / But the general electorate ain't the alt-right / Race-baiting for your base is rating poorly in the polls / You gotta be swing-stating, not elating Russian trolls

tags: 2016 Election, Immigration

A Hodgepodge of Leftovers

Why not extend an olive branch toward the conservative voters she needs to attract, offering to include ideas from across the ideological spectrum in pursuit of major bipartisan reform? Instead, we get only cautious platitudes all the way down. Perhaps with a bit more focus on the stated passion for helping women and children, she might also get further with the exhibited passion for becoming president.

tags: 2016 Election, Safety Net

Clinton Argues Paid Leave Creates Wage Gap

Are employers who choose to offer even more flexibility than the law requires therefore undercutting women even further? And how should gender discrimination be policed if federal employment policies are a cause of disparities in pay and promotion and the employers offering women the most generous options are the worst offenders? The especially committed social engineer might decide to tackle this challenge by attempting to force women's life choices to conform to men's, or vice versa. Good luck. Sweden has even tried paying couples to use equal amounts of leave, to little effect.

tags: 2016 Election, Inequality

Hillary's Web of Promises

In a world of fixed resources, Clinton's model inevitably undermines the idea of equal protection under the law, pits groups against one another, and leaves some explicitly favored by government as winners. It also normalizes subjective standards for government action.

tags: 2016 Election

Open' and 'Closed' Is the Wrong Political Frame

But if we shift from rhetorical one-upmanship to a more fair-minded analysis of the divide, it seems to emerge primarily over how to help those segments of society currently facing social collapse and economic struggle. High levels of trade and immigration are presumably not the ends unto themselves. Rather they are, in the view of the Openers, critical pre-requisites of a flourishing society that will work for everyone. Many opponents see value in trade and immigration as well, but they emphasize that the current approach is not working for those who need help most and we have not proven any ability to make it work.

tags: 2016 Election

The Death of Disagreement

The choices aren't complicated: support Trump, support Clinton, support someone else with the understanding that you're likely leaving the choice of winner to those supporting either Trump or Clinton, or declare yourself undecided while the race ripens. The complicated part is the first-order question, unique to a party so deeply divided over its own nominee: how many of these choices should be acceptable on the right, both morally and politically? Or, when isn't it despicable to support someone you find despicable?

tags: 2016 Election

Stop Explaining Trump

Regardless of where he lands, Donald Trump has already ruptured the GOP and posed a major challenge to American conservatism. But with postmortems for both party and movement already underway, we shouldn't make the mistake of developing 'solutions' that fight the last war. Conservatives should be developing good policy and a compelling message, not something-that-would-have-stopped-Trump.

tags: 2016 Election

Trump Voters Are Angry, But Why?

The real difference is that Romney held himself each day to the highest standards of decency and felt keenly the burdens of leadership, while Trump is an entertainer committed to delivering whatever irrational blather of insults, threats, and lies will earn the most retweets. Sometimes the blather may take the form of a 'policy? proposal like mass deportation or a ban on Muslims, but that is still part of the show ? not a suggestion for how to run the country.

tags: 2016 Election

The Real Clinton Climate Plan

The real plan, simply put, is to pay for other countries to reduce their emissions through an unprecedented transfer of wealth from the developed world to the developing world. This plan emerged from the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009, at which then-Secretary Clinton pledged the United States would help create a Green Climate Fund of at least $100 billion in annual aid ? a commitment comparable in scale to all existing development aid from OECD countries.

tags: 2016 Election, Climate Change

Some Multimedia

CSPAN Washington Journal, 8/1/18
On the future of work

Wall Street Journal, 3/17/18
On universal basic income

Evidence Squared (1 and 2), June 2017
On climate communication

WNYC w/ Brian Lehrer, 3/9/17
On replacing Obamacare

Harvard Kennedy School, 2/22/17
On the future of conservatism

Matter of Fact, 1/22/17
On the Trump administration

WNYC w/ Brian Lehrer, 10/28/16
On the 2016 election (second hour)

National Review Institute, 10/17/16
On the wisdom of free trade

Senate Energy Comm, 4/26/16
On oil & gas development

CSPAN Washington Journal, 11/29/15
On the Paris climate negotiations

NPR On Point, 8/4/15
On the Clean Power Plan (second half)