Oct 27

Past Event

Is America Really an Opportunity Society?



  • Tools Better than Handouts to Move Low-Income People to Middle Class

    Isabel Sawhill: I''s better to give low-income children and families the tools to move to the middle class, and that most Americans support those policies as opposed to handouts alone.

    Isabel V. Sawhill

  • Cut Entitlements, Raise Taxes Now

    Ron Haskins: We need to think about the deficit now and that we need to cut entitlements and raise taxes.

    Ron Haskins

  • Juan Williams

    Williams says we know how to eradicate poverty, as the book highlights: stay in school, be an active member of the workforce, and do not have children out of wedlock.

  • David Brooks

    Brooks notes that the causes of poverty and the ways to solve are somewhat unrelated. He says the value of this book is that it marries psychology and the economics in how to solve poverty.

  • Linda Gibbs

    Gibbs says that education is a critical component for reducing poverty but adds that schools don''t reach every young person in all low-income communities.


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Despite its status as one of the world’s leading and most innovative economies, the United States is faced with high poverty rates and less economic opportunity than many other affluent countries.

On October 27, Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill discussed their new book, Creating an Opportunity Society, which explores what it will take to help more people achieve the American Dream. Haskins, who served in the Bush administration, and Sawhill, who served in the Clinton administration, found common ground in exploring three proven routes to upward mobility: education, work and strong families. Drawing on a wealth of data and research on recent trends in poverty, inequality and economic mobility, they argue that it will take a combination of personal responsibility along with smarter and better-targeted government policies to make the American Dream a reality for children and families now stuck at the bottom. Their common-sense proposals are deficit-neutral, and they call for a gradual reallocation of federal resources from the elderly to working-age families and their children to help them advance in these troubling economic times.

The event was moderated by Brookings Senior Fellow and Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne. Panelists included commentators David Brooks and Juan Williams, and Deputy Mayor of New York City Linda Gibbs.

After the program, panelists took questions from the audience.

Event Agenda


October 27, 2009

9:00 AM - 11:00 AM EDT

The Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications

(202) 797-6105