Arthur Brooks, the President of the center-right conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, here in Washington, has a new book called The Conservative Heart. The basic point is how conservative policies can help people in poverty move up and get out of poverty and live in economic freedom. Where most of the country lives. He argues that the old progressive New Deal and Great Society War on Poverty has failed. But that Conservatives, have never offered a real alternative to address poverty in America so that we don’t have so many Americans living in poverty. He argues that we should get past the debate of government trying to do everything for people who are struggling, versus government should do almost nothing.
I actually agree with a lot of what Brooks is saying here and is what The New Democrat argues all the time from the Center-Left. That we need a bridge between the democratic socialist model, that says government should do practically everything for people and the conservative libertarian model that government should do practically nothing for people, even people who are struggling. That government should butt out and let the free market work its will.
But we don’t need a so-called Third Way, that is more centrist minded. There are really good liberal and conservative policies that would help reduce poverty in America. Liberal policies built around education, job training and infrastructure. To help people in poverty whether they are working, or not, to finish and further their education, so they can get themselves a good job. Conservative policies built around economic development in low-income communities.
It’s good to hear a Conservative like Arthur Brooks, or Representative Paul Ryan, especially when the right-wing in America is so dominant by the Tea Party and Conservative Libertarians, say that not only does government have a role to help reduce poverty in America, but it can play a positive role as well. That people who are physically and mentally able, should work in America, unless they are already economically independent. That people shouldn’t be allowed to collect public assistance indefinitely, simply because they aren’t educated, or have kids, or a combination of both. Liberals and Conservatives, actually agree on this. But that low-skilled adults in America should have a pathway to prosperity in America. The ability to improve themselves, learn a trade and get out of poverty all together.