A national debate about the strength and fairness of American capitalism is taking place against a backdrop of vast levels of income and wealth inequality, growing pessimism about the state of economic opportunity and mobility, increased market concentration in many sectors, and a precarious fiscal situation.
The United States is currently gripped by deep uncertainty and economic anxiety. At the time of this writing, the United States is six months into the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 190,000 Americans have died from COVID (CDC 2020); more than 13 million Americans remain unemployed (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020); and tens of thousands of businesses remain closed (Grossman 2020). Meanwhile, protests against racial injustice continue across the country, and in a number of tragic instances, they have been overtaken by violence. Wildfires rage through the northern Pacific states. In Oregon, 40,000 people have been evacuated and more than 1,500 square miles have burned. California has already experienced three of the top four largest wildfires in its history in this year alone. Perhaps more than any time in recent memory, the economic future of our country feels uncertain.
The pursuit of economic opportunity for all Americans is as important to the health of the country’s economy as it is to the strength of its democracy. The promise that hard work and determination will yield economic success is a central American ideal, but it has been called into question as secular economic forces and institutional changes have reshaped the American economy and had an uneven impact on Americans’ ability to prosper.
This report puts forward a set of policies that should be part of the next wave of fiscal policy aimed at bolstering individuals and workers, small and mid-sized businesses, and state and local governments during a sustained recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kearney and Mogstad argue that, in practice, a UBI would be an extremely expensive, inefficiently targeted, and potentially harmful policy that would solve none of the economic challenges it purports to address.
We, the undersigned members of the AESG, have collectively worked at the highest levels of the policy, business, government, academic, and civic communities. We believe that our nation’s economic policies need to be adjusted so that more people participate more fully in our economic success.