A Plan for Beating Romney/Ryan's "Dystopian Hellscape": Prosperity Economics

The debate currently going on in Washington over the economy is, Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker said, "too often the sound of one hand clapping."  

Hacker proposes to change that debate; he and Nate Loewentheil have rolled out a plan they're calling Prosperity Economics. Rest assured it's got nothing to do with our "friends" at Americans for Prosperity. Instead, it's an antidote to everything Republicans like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the Kochs want to see. They write [PDF]: 


This report lays out an alternative to austerity economics, one based on our history, the successful experiences of  other nations, and recent currents of research and theory in economics and allied fields. We call this model “prosperity economics.” Its central conclusion is that there is no inevitable trade-off  between creating a strong, dynamic economy and fostering a society marked by greater health, broader security, increased equality of  opportunity, and more broadly distributed growth. To the contrary, societies that cultivate a wider distribution of  the returns from increasing social wealth are the ones that flourish economically. When all members of  a society share in the rewards of  advancement—from better health to greater political freedom, from basic economic security to greater upward mobility—society is more likely to prosper in a sustained way. And when the government plays an active role in the economy through investments in education and scientific research, economies are more 
dynamic and innovative. 

Instead of a focus on debt, Hacker noted, their plan focuses on putting the millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans back to work, on strengthening Social Security and even expanding it, on workers' right to collective bargaining, on putting working people back in the center of the debate.

We're in a political moment, Hacker and blogger Heather "Digby"  Parton emphasized in a conference call hosted by the Campaign for America's Future, where even Democrats are basically proposing a "kinder, gentler austerity," where without a clear alternative to the slash-and-burn politics of the Right, we're in danger of having a debate that is only about where and how much to cut, rather than a discussion of returning to growth. But putting people back to work--spending money on infrastructure repairs desperately needed, paying people good wages to do the work--will not only help individuals and repair our crumbling buildings, bridges and roads. It will also help reduce the deficit, as the government takes in more revenue from people who are in fact working. 

They also call for important reforms to our democracy. "When economic winners are allowed to write the economic rules, the rest of America becomes poorer and our political system weaker. For democracy to thrive, strong unions, and empowered citizens and community organizations are needed to ensure that workers and the broader public have an organized, effective voice in our politics," their one-page brief explains. They're calling for public campaign financing, reining in lobbying, and filibuster reform, as well as an end to the current crop of laws popping up around the country restricting voters' access to the polls. 

The plan is endorsed by the AFL-CIO, the Center for Community Change, SEIU, the National Council of La Raza, the Economic Policy Institute, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Campaign for America’s Future.

"It's long overdue on our side to have come up with a cohesive and coherent alternative to austerity economics, which seems to have swept the political world by storm," Parton said. You can read the full report, brief explanations, and find more news here.

AlterNet / By Sarah Jaffe

Posted at August 23, 2012, 12:05pm