Conservatives and progressives divide over how best to restore the promise of a broad middle class society, a debate especially fraught due to the severe economic challenges ahead. Should Congress reduce budget deficits first? Or do we increase social investment and count on growth to reduce the real debt level? And if growth is the cure, is the road to growth paved with tax cuts and reduced regulation – or increased government outlays in physical and human infrastructure and better supervision of private financial excess? Are widening income gaps and loss of good jobs and competitiveness primarily the result of structural unemployment and skills deficits? Or of a business model that doesn’t really need American workers in order to maintain American corporate earnings? Are there any areas of common ground between conservatives and progressives?
On February 24, the Brookings Institution, The American Prospect and Demos hosted a panel discussion on the endangered middle class and strategies for assuring that future generations of Americans secure a place in middle class society. Discussion was built off of the various questions and issues raised in a special report about the state of the American middle class in the March issue of The American Prospect.
After the program, speakers took audience questions.