The Conservative Liberal Agenda

This post is part of a series presenting equity leaders’ reaction to “America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model” — a new paper that challenges the nation to invest in our collective future. This post was written by Algernon Austin, Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy at Economic Policy Institute. Click here to read other reflections.

The challenge for America continues to be how will it live up to its ideals of equality and opportunity. As the country becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, the successes and failures of America’s people of color increasingly shape the strengths and weaknesses of the country as a whole. PolicyLink provides us with a blueprint for a prosperous American future in its new report, America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model. This future is built on the realization that an equitable and inclusive American economy is the only path forward that provides strong growth and prosperity for all.

The PolicyLink economic agenda is “conservative” in the sense that the goal is to return to some of the features of the American economy of the 1950s and 1960s. The 1950s and 1960s was a time when all Americans experienced strong income growth. In fact, the income of the poor grew a little more than the rich. The government made major investments in infrastructure and in education and everyone benefitted.

It is also worth recalling that this was an economy in which America’s manufacturing sector was relatively strong and the financial sector relatively weak. The unionization rate was relatively high. These were features of the economy that helped to produce good jobs and to grow the American middle class. Today’s German economy, which currently has an unemployment rate more than two percentage points lower than ours, shows that manufacturing and unions are still a recipe for prosperity.

It is time for America to remember and re-create what made the post-World War II American economy strong. PolicyLink begins this process with America’s Tomorrow.

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