President Obama this week appeared at Georgetown University for a discussion on poverty and opportunity. “I think it is a mistake,” he said, “for us to suggest that somehow every effort we make has failed and we are powerless to address poverty.” The president shared the stage with Brookings Senior Fellow E.J. Dionne, Jr., who is also a Washington Post columnist; Harvard public policy professor Robert Putnam, author of “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis“; and Robert Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute.
Putnam appeared in a recent Brookings Cafeteria podcast with Dionne and Senior Fellow Richard Reeves (who writes about the poverty summit and issues raised in this blog post) to discuss the opportunity gap in America and how differences in politics, class, and race are impacting the American dream. Stating that poverty alleviation is not a zero-sum game, Putnam added that:
Not investing in these poor kids means the whole country will be poorer, by a lot, by about 4 percent of our GDP a year over the lifetime of these poor kids … and it’s going to cost the whole country, including my grandchildren, about $7 trillion … And that means it would be in my interest and my kids’ interest if we would invest in helping every kid to have a decent shot in life.
Listen to the entire podcast here.
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