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An Economic Platform for US Democrats

Summary:
A driving force behind Donald Trump’s election as US president was the median household’s perception that it had been left behind by globalization and technological change. Fortunately, from an economist’s perspective, it isn’t difficult to think of proposals that would expand the economic pie and distribute the slices more equitably. CAMBRIDGE – When American voters head to the polls for congressional midterm elections in November, their choices seem likely to be guided more by “pocketbook issues” than by foreign affairs or President Donald Trump’s scandals. If the Democrats hope to retake control of the House of Representatives, they will need a platform that addresses voters’ economic concerns – particularly the concerns

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A driving force behind Donald Trump’s election as US president was the median household’s perception that it had been left behind by globalization and technological change. Fortunately, from an economist’s perspective, it isn’t difficult to think of proposals that would expand the economic pie and distribute the slices more equitably.

CAMBRIDGE – When American voters head to the polls for congressional midterm elections in November, their choices seem likely to be guided more by “pocketbook issues” than by foreign affairs or President Donald Trump’s scandals. If the Democrats hope to retake control of the House of Representatives, they will need a platform that addresses voters’ economic concerns – particularly the concerns of many voters who elected Trump in the first place.

The conventional wisdom still stands: underlying Trump’s election was the median household’s perception that it had been left behind by globalization and technological change, with the gains from those developments having gone to the rich instead. Fortunately, from an economist’s perspective, it is not difficult to think of proposals in eight critical policy areas that would simultaneously expand the economic pie and share the slices more equitably.

The first key proposal relates to health care. Democrats must commit to expanding the share of Americans with health insurance, not reducing it, as Republicans have been working toward. This means, for starters, repairing the damage the Republicans have done to the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare).

Second, Democrats should commit to investing in infrastructure, including the construction and repair of roads and bridges, funded by a higher gasoline tax. Such infrastructure would not only support long-term economic growth, but in the short run would also create blue-collar jobs for people whose employment prospects...

Jeffrey Frankel
Jeffrey Frankel, a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, previously served as a member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. He directs the Program in International Finance and Macroeconomics at the US National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is a member of the Business Cycle Dating Committee, the official US arbiter of recession and recovery.

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