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Monday, January 09, 2012

Paul Krugman: America’s Unlevel Field

Do Republicans really believe in a level playing field?:

America’s Unlevel Field, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Last month President Obama gave a speech invoking the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt on behalf of progressive ideals — and Republicans were not happy. Mitt Romney, in particular, insisted that where Roosevelt believed that “government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities,” Mr. Obama believes that “government should create equal outcomes,”... a society where “everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk.”
As many people were quick to point out, this portrait of the president as radical redistributionist was pure fiction. What hasn’t been as widely noted, however, is that Mr. Romney’s picture of himself as a believer in a level playing field is just as fictional. ...
Americans are much more likely than citizens of other nations to believe that they live in a meritocracy. But ... America actually stands out as the advanced country in which it matters most who your parents were, the country in which those born on one of society’s lower rungs have the least chance of climbing to the top or even to the middle. And if you ask why..., a large part of the reason is that our government falls down on the job of creating equal opportunity. ...
Which brings me back to those, like Mr. Romney, who claim to believe in equality of opportunity. Where is the evidence for that claim?
Think about it: someone who really wanted equal opportunity would be very concerned about ... inequality... He would support more nutritional aid for low-income mothers-to-be and young children. He would try to improve the quality of public schools. He would support aid to low-income college students. And he would support ... a universal health care system...
If Mr. Romney has come out for any of these things, I’ve missed it. And the Congressional wing of his party seems determined to make upward mobility even harder. For example, Republicans have tried to slash funds for the Women, Infants and Children program, which helps provide adequate nutrition to low-income mothers and their children; they have demanded cuts in Pell grants, which are designed to help lower-income students afford college. And they have, of course, pledged to repeal a health reform...
So where is the evidence that Mr. Romney or his party actually believes in equal opportunity? Judging by their actions, they seem to prefer a society in which your station in life is largely determined by that of your parents — and in which the children of the very rich get to inherit their estates tax-free. Teddy Roosevelt would not have approved.

    Posted by on Monday, January 9, 2012 at 12:51 AM in Economics, Income Distribution, Politics | Permalink  Comments (135)


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