How to Score the Debate

I had to write this column before presidential debate was finished, so I thought the most useful thing I could do is to offer the scoring system I’ll be using to determine who did best. You can fill in your own scores. My system is not based on zingers or extra points for energizing the base, but rather on what I believe many Americans really want from next president. You see, I believe this time is different, that many Americans understand something is very wrong, that we could go the way of Greece or Japan if we don’t shape up, and that they will embrace a candidate who trusts them with the truth, that is, an honest diagnosis of where we are and how we get out of this mess. Up to now, neither candidate has been willing to do that. (source: Thomas L. Friedman – NYTimes – 17/10/2012)

So, first, I’ll be looking for that honest diagnosis. We are where we are today, in part, because merger of globalization and information technology has transformed how goods and services are bought and sold, made and designed. This merger makes old jobs obsolete faster and spins off new jobs faster, but all the good new jobs require higher skills. As a country, notes Lawrence Katz, Harvard University labor economist, we have historically ensured our work force kept up with new technology by steadily expanding public education, first universal primary education and then universal secondary education. But since 1980s, says Katz, when we needed to move to some form of universal postsecondary education to keep pace with globalization and I.T., we didn’t. Instead, he points out, “our high school graduation rates stopped improving and our growth in college graduates slowed substantially, far below what we need for rapid growth and shared prosperity.” Today, our workers ages 50 and over are most educated in the world; our younger workers are in middle of global pack for industrialized countries; our national dropout rate remains stubbornly high, around 25%.

So what did we do? We created employment for our unskilled workers by massive injection of subprime credit that created a large number of home construction and retailing jobs. Meanwhile, Wall Street also ballooned, in part by shifting from an industry that funded “creative destruction” of new firms to an industry, as economist Jagdish Bhagwati put it, that funded “destructive creation” of unproductive financial instruments. “For too many years, our job creation engines were excessively reoriented from competitive global markets to inwardly oriented sectors that were taken to unsustainable levels, (e.g., construction, finance, housing and retail),” wrote Mohamed A. El-Erian, the chief executive of Pimco, in The “The result was unbalanced and vulnerable labor force. Our generation also overdosed on debt and credit entitlement. We got seduced by financial engineering …Too little genuine growth, too much debt, and a risk culture gone crazy culminated in the very messy global financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath, a costly shock to society whose impact will be with us for quite a few years still on … Western societies have under- and mal-invested in education. As we slipped down the global rankings, we convinced ourselves that our traditional global edge in entrepreneurship and innovation” could compensate for our declines in educational attainment. They can’t. All of this came to a head during terrible 2000s. Housing/credit markets exploded, creating a systemic banking crisis and a painful recession, which coincided with our sharpening education deficit, which coincided with 2 wars and a big tax cut that dramatically worsened our national deficit. The result is a deep hole.

That big hole requires us to now cut spending, raise and reform taxes; stimulate the economy by investing in infrastructure, research and teachers; spur more start-ups; offer more people postsecondary vocational or college education. So, first, listen for anything like that diagnosis from the candidates. And, second, listen for a plan that rises to the true scale of that challenge, one that proposes job-creating infrastructure investments tied with a program to stimulate more start-ups (which have slowed) tied with a credible deficit-reduction plan, that would be phased in as the economy recovers, tied with a plan to get more Americans postsecondary education. Yes, I know, Obama has many such initiatives, but he has not made them centerpiece of his campaign, or highlighted them in his commercials, or tied them together into a compelling package gets people out of their chairs, saying: “Yes, he’s got the answer!” Instead of campaigning on how good is his plan, he has campaigned on how bad is Romney’s. Third, the country wants a plan is fair. The wealthy have to pay more, but everyone should contribute something. And, fourth, the country wants a plan that is aspirational, a plan is about making America a great country for the next generation, not just “balancing the budget”. So I am scoring the debate with these criteria in mind. I have argued for a year now candidate who offers such plan wins election. If neither does, someone will still win, probably narrowly, but the country will lose by a mile. 


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16 Responses to How to Score the Debate

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Democrats are back in the game. Hard to say whether debate is a game changer for Obama. American voters have the final word on two candidates: Experience over Hope.

  2. Foreign policy issues provoked two of the sharpest moments of the second debate between President Obama and the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, on Tuesday night. They sparred over the attack that killed four Americans in Libya, including the U.S. ambassador, and there was a testy exchange about U.S. policies toward China. Mr. Obama mentioned three new trade agreements and a number of unfair trading cases brought by his administration — twice as many as the Bush presidency, he said. He specifically cited a move against China’s “flooding” of the U.S. market with car and truck tires, a challenge that he said “saved a thousand jobs.” “When he talks about getting tough on China,” Mr. Obama said, “keep in mind that Governor Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing to China and is currently investing in companies that are building surveillance equipment for China to spy on its own folks.” Mr. Obama then spoke sharply and directly to Mr. Romney, saying, “Governor, you’re the last person who’s going to get tough on China.” The third and final presidential debate will focus more on specific foreign policy issues and the United States’ role in the world. That debate is scheduled for Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Florida, and one of the five topics will be “The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World.” Later in the debate on Tuesday, Mr. Romney repeated his promise “on Day 1” to label China a currency manipulator, which he said would enable him to impose tariffs on Chinese goods. He said Beijing “has been cheating over the years,” stealing patents, product designs and intellectual property from American companies. China, he said, has “not played by the rules.” In response, Mr. Obama repeated the outsourcing charge and said his administration has “exerted unprecedented trade pressure on China.” Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. secretary of state who pioneered and continues to promote close relations between Washington and Beijing, has said that both candidates have been using “extremely deplorable” language in speaking about China, as Rendezvous reported. “Both used the word ‘cheat’ as applied to China, in trade,” Mr. Kissinger said during a panel discussion two weeks ago at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. He said “theoreticians” unschooled in the nuances of the U.S.-China relationship “want to turn this into a crusade.” “Do you want China to be an enemy or a friend?” Maurice Greenberg, the former chairman of American International Group, said on Bloomberg TV last week. Mr. Greenberg, who backs Mr. Romney, is a director of the U.S.-China Business Council, a free trade group. “We have a choice between a trade agreement or a trade war,” he said. “I choose a trade agreement and I hope that we will” (…..)

  3. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Fact: US-China (Chinamerica) are linked by the hip. US, the largest market and debtor nation in the world. China, soon the largest world economy and main buyer of US debt. Economic harmony, in Chinese lexicon, is the only way out for both super powers. The China game is played at two levels in DC: Economic-financial arena and domestic politics. In the area of trade and financial investment, there is nothing that can be done to either control China’s fast economic rise or contain its increasing presence in regions of the world, previously dominated by US business interests such as Africa, Latin America and Asia. In fact, the US business model depends FUNDAMENTALLY of easy access to the Chinese market in order to survive and prosper. In a hypothetical financial-trade war, US debt issuing and Apple would be the first casualty in the American side. China is more complicated to be dealt with at the political level for three reasons. First, China is not Japan that became an economic superpower but a US military protectorate. China does not accept US interference in its monetary and exchange rate policy as Japan did in the 1980s with disastrous results; Second, China’s political-business model is showing to be superior to the American model; Third, US politics depends fundamentally on money which is made in China nowadays, not Gary Indiana. It is understandable the irritation felt by members of the American elite in relation to the rise of China.

  4. Income inequality has soared to the highest levels since the Great Depression, and the recession has done little to reverse the trend, with the top 1 percent of earners taking 93 percent of the income gains in the first full year of the recovery. The yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots — and the political questions that gap has raised about the plight of the middle class — has given rise to anti-Wall Street sentiment and animated the presidential campaign. Now, a growing body of economic research suggests that it might mean lower levels of economic growth and slower job creation in the years ahead, as well. “Growth becomes more fragile” in countries with high levels of inequality like the United States, said Jonathan D. Ostry of the International Monetary Fund, whose research suggests that the widening disparity since the 1980s might shorten the nation’s economic expansions by as much as a third. Reducing inequality and bolstering growth, in the long run, might be “two sides of the same coin,” research published last year by the I.M.F. concluded. Since the 1980s, rich households in the United States have earned a larger and larger share of overall income. The 1 percent earns about one-sixth of all income and the top 10 percent about half, according to statistics compiled by the respected economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley and Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics. For years, economists have thought of such inequality in part as a side effect of policies that fostered the country’s economic dynamism — its tax preferences for investment income, for instance. And organizations like the World Bank and the I.M.F., which is based in Washington, have generally not tackled inequality in the world head on. But economists’ thinking has changed sharply in recent years. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development this year warned about the “negative consequences” of the country’s high levels of pay inequality, and suggested an aggressive series of changes to tax and spending programs to tackle it. The I.M.F. has cautioned the United States, too. “Some dismiss inequality and focus instead on overall growth — arguing, in effect, that a rising tide lifts all boats,” a commentary by fund economists said. “When a handful of yachts become ocean liners while the rest remain lowly canoes, something is seriously amiss.” The concentration of income in the hands of the rich might not just mean a more unequal society, economists believe. It might mean less stable economic expansions and sluggish growth. That is the conclusion drawn by two economists at the fund, Mr. Ostry and Andrew G. Berg. They found that in rich countries and poor, inequality strongly correlated with shorter spells of economic expansion and thus less growth over time. And inequality seems to have a stronger effect on growth than several other factors, including foreign investment, trade openness, exchange rate competitiveness and the strength of political institutions. For developing economies, the channels through which inequality might drag down growth seem clear. Inequality might foster political instability and lead to violence and economic destruction, for instance, a theme that fits for Arab Spring countries, like Egypt and Syria. For the United States, such channels are now the subject of intense research interest, with economists examining whether and how the gap between the rich and the poor fueled the recession and what it might mean. In the last few years, research by the Brookings Institution, the I.M.F. and dozens of economists at top research universities has started to coalesce into a compelling narrative (…..)

  5. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Empirical evidence from ANY developing country confirms that concentration of income cannot sustain economic growth and, consequently, with negative impact on job creation. My own country, Brazil, has three hundred years of experience in the devastating effects of income concentration and a dual society of few rich and millions of poor.

    There is no need of fancy economic research to show that in the US. The question of income inequality and growth falls ENTIRELY in the realm of politics. After all, any political system is used to either protect wealth or to redistribute it. In other words, to protect the wealth in the hands of the privileged 1% or to redistribute it among the 99%.

    The bad news is that neither Obama nor Romney want to take the issue up front because both believe in the US business model. Romney’s politics is blatantly in favor of his rich peers while Obama is too timid and afraid to be called a socialist. Even his idea of progressive taxing of the super rich is not taken vigorously.

    Unless a shock occurs in the political-social system, the US will be mimicking the Latin model: rich and poor and stop and go economic growth with low paid jobs creation.

  6. DAG: No, It’s not so simple as just “redistributing income”. For one thing, there’s not nearly enough to redistribute. The income inequality in this country is a consequence of the shifting structure of our economy and culture. To state the obvious, millions of manufacturing, computer programming, tech support, and other middle income jobs have been shifted overseas to countries with lower wage rates. Countries like India and China have been the beneficiaries of this shift. Most of these jobs will not be coming back. On the upper end of the wage scale, executive compensation has increased at a much greater rate than the wages of rank-and-file workers. Boards of directors are responsible for this and these people can and should be replaced by shareholders. In addition, the finance industry draws lots of attention because some of our smartest graduates are drawn to the huge amounts of money that can be made trading financial instruments and, at the extreme, doing it with computer programs.

    These kinds of activities add nothing to society but produce many 20-something millionaires. Our culture is also to blame. Who are the wealthiest people in the country?… entertainers, athletes, movie stars. No one seems to mind this, but it’s indicative of a sick, unproductive, immediate gratification culture.

  7. US President Barack Obama’s performance in Tuesday’s debate was much improved, but he continues to miss the target. Even as his campaign ads attempt to paint challenger Mitt Romney as a cold-hearted capitalist, Obama allowed Romney to present himself as Mr. Average. This opens a door of opportunity for the Republican challenger.

  8. Russia may not figure much in American elections, but President Putin finds Mitt Romney’s description of that country as ‘geopolitical foe number one’ useful in his management of domestic politics. He could probably work with either candidate, but what sort of relationship with Russia might either of them pursue?

  9. After three debates and four and a half hours of nationally televised exchanges, Americans have learned that President Obama has a smaller pension than his opponent and Mitt Romney wants to get Big Bird’s beak out of the federal trough, that Joseph R. Biden Jr. likes to smile and Paul D. Ryan drinks lots of water. But they have not learned as much about what the next four years might look like. With tens of millions of Americans tuning in to the debates, the four candidates for president and vice president have spent most of their time on the biggest public stage of the campaign fighting more about what happened in the last term than what should happen in the next. Mr. Obama and Vice President Biden defended their record but gave only a modest sense of their agenda should they be re-elected, beyond arguing for staying the course because the other side would return to what they called the failed policies of the past. Mr. Romney and his running mate, Mr. Ryan, did offer a vision of sorts for replacing what they called failed policies of the present, but they declined to give the kind of details that would help voters evaluate what it would mean for them. As a result, voters are left to extrapolate from the signals sent during the debates what the future would hold under an Obama second term or a first term of a President Romney. Americans can make interpretations from the values and concepts expressed, even if there are few tangible plans to consider. “The viewers know what these candidates believe,” said William A. Galston, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore who now works as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “But they don’t know what these candidates would do.” In postdebate appearances on Wednesday, both the president and Mr. Romney seized on what they saw as their opponents’ deficiencies. “The president still doesn’t have an agenda for a second term,” Mr. Romney told a rally of supporters in Chesapeake, Va. “Don’t you think that it’s time for him to finally put together a vision of what he’d do in the next four years?” He added: “I just think the American people had expected that the president of the United States would be able to describe what he’s going to do in the next four years, but he can’t.” At his own rally in Mount Vernon, Iowa, Mr. Obama said: “Governor Romney also took another stab at trying to sell us his $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy. Once again he refused to tell us how he’s going to pay for it.”

    “Usually when a politician tells you he’s going to wait until after the election to explain a plan to you,” he said, “they don’t have a pleasant surprise in store for you” (…..)

  10. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Obama and Romney face a conundrum in their last debate. How to propose a plausible economic plan for the next four years. The majority of the American voters are against increasing taxes or cutting the budget deficit. However, January 1st 2013 something dramatic takes place in fiscal policy. On that day, policy changes will cause federal spending to fall, and federal taxes to rise, by a combined $607 billion in 2013 alone. The magnitude and abruptness of the changes gave rise to the name “fiscal cliff.”

    Neither Obama nor Romney can give a satisfactory solution to the fiscal cliff that could please the majority of American voters. They have to go for an election year Brazilian maxim: Give them promises, not reality.

  11. The largest U.S. financial firms warned Thursday of dire consequences if Washington fails to head off year-end tax hikes and spending cuts, saying they could jolt the economy into recession and prompt a new and dangerous downgrade of the U.S. credit rating. These projections come as U.S. business leaders have been escalating their lobbying on behalf of a bipartisan deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” pressing their case in a series of meetings with key members of Congress. On Thursday, 15 of the nation’s largest financial companies warned President Obama and Congress in a letter that interest rates could spike significantly if policymakers do not agree to stop the series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts and replace them with a long-term plan to tame the federal debt. In an interview, JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon said he would use all the power he has as head of the country’s largest bank to press lawmakers for a solution. Dimon is a major backer of a Washington-based campaign known as “Fix the Debt,” which is planning to spend $30 million to pressure lawmakers. “I will do whatever it takes,” he said. The White House and congressional Republicans now appear ready to play chicken over the “fiscal cliff.” Administration officials say the president is prepared to veto legislation to block the tax hikes and spending cuts unless Republicans agree to increase tax rates on the wealthy, a red line for many GOP lawmakers. On Thursday, analysts at JPMorgan said economic activity will be weaker than expected in the first part of next year because lawmakers are unlikely to renew the payroll tax cut, which has provided the average family with $1,000 a year in additional income. “The change in our view wasn’t because of something that happened, but rather what didn’t happen,” analysts wrote in a research note. “Few in the political establishment came forward to push an extension of this tax break.” If no agreement is reached, a variety of other taxes, affecting all Americans, will increase significantly on Jan. 1, and the government will begin to make deep cuts to domestic and defense spending. Many economists say that will cause a recession. Also on Thursday, a top executive for the country’s largest bond firm, Pimco, warned that ratings companies would probably lower the credit rating on U.S. government securities after the new year. “The U.S. will get downgraded; it’s a question of when,” Scott Mather, Pimco’s head of global portfolio management, said at a conference in Wellington, New Zealand, according to Bloomberg News. “It depends on what the end of the year looks like, but it could be fairly soon after that” (…..)

  12. Mitt Romney talks a lot about jobs. But does he have a plan to create any? You can defend President Obama’s jobs record — recovery from a severe financial crisis is always difficult, and especially so when the opposition party does its best to block every policy initiative you propose. And things have definitely improved over the past year. Still, unemployment remains high after all these years, and a candidate with a real plan to make things better could make a strong case for his election. But Mr. Romney, it turns out, doesn’t have a plan; he’s just faking it. In saying that, I don’t mean that I disagree with his economic philosophy; I do, but that’s a separate point. I mean, instead, that Mr. Romney’s campaign is telling lies: claiming that its numbers add up when they don’t, claiming that independent studies support its position when those studies do no such thing. Before I get there, however, let me take a minute to talk about Mr. Romney’s claim that he knows how to fix the economy because he’s been a successful businessman. That would be a dubious claim even if he were honestly representing his business career, because the skills needed to run a business and those needed to manage economic policy are very different. In any case, however, his portrait of his own experience is so misleading that it takes your breath away. For Mr. Romney, who started as a business consultant and then moved into the heady world of private equity, insists on portraying himself as a plucky small businessman. I am not making this up. In Tuesday’s debate, he declared, “I came through small business. I understand how hard it is to start a small business.” In his speech at the Republican convention, he declared, “When I was 37, I helped start a small company.” Ahem. It’s true that when Bain Capital started, it had only a handful of employees. But it had $37 million in funds, raised from sources that included wealthy Europeans investing through Panamanian shell companies and Central American oligarchs living in Miami while death squads associated with their families ravaged their home nations. Hey, doesn’t every plucky little start-up have access to that kind of financing? (…..)

  13. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Neither Obama nor Romney have a ‘magic’ plan to lower down unemployment SIGNIFICANTLY in the next four years. The reason is very simple. The US economy is caught in a debt trap that constrain economic growth. Fiscal and monetary policy, fundamental instruments of macroeconomic policy, are inoperative. Fiscal stimulus has run its course while expansive monetary policy has lost traction to engender faster economic growth.

    Unless bold action is taken to address the unsustainable public deficit, low economic growth and fewer jobs is the new normal of the US economy.

  14. The headlines from the last presidential debate focused on President Obama challenging Mitt Romney on issue after issue. There was a less noticed, but no less remarkable, moment when Mr. Obama agreed with Mr. Romney on something — and both were entirely wrong. The exchange began with a question about the offshoring of American jobs. Part of Mr. Obama’s answer was that federal investments in education, science and research would help to ensure that companies invest and hire in the United States. Mr. Romney interrupted. “Government does not create jobs,” he said. “Government does not create jobs.” It was a decidedly crabbed response to a seemingly uncontroversial observation, and yet Mr. Obama took the bait. He said his political opponents had long harped on “this notion that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer. That’s not what I believe.” He went on to praise free enterprise and to say that government’s role is to create the conditions for everyone to have a fair shot at success. So, they agree. Government does not create jobs. Except that it does, millions of them — including teachers, police officers, firefighters, soldiers, sailors, astronauts, epidemiologists, antiterrorism agents, park rangers, diplomats, governors (Mr. Romney’s old job) and congressmen (like Paul Ryan). First, the basics. At last count, government at all levels — federal, state and local — employed 22 million Americans, with the largest segment working in public education. Is that too many? No. Since the late 1980s, the number of public-sector workers has averaged about 7.3 for every 100 people. With the loss of 569,000 government jobs since June 2009, that ratio now stands at about 7 per 100. Public-sector job loss means trouble for everyone. Government jobs are crucial to education, public health and safety, environmental protection, defense, homeland security and myriad other functions that the private sector cannot fulfill. They are also critical for private-sector job growth in two fundamental ways. First, the government gets its supplies from private-sector companies, which is why Republican senators like John McCain have been frantically warning about the dire effects on job creation if Congress moves ahead with planned military spending cuts. (Republicans insisted upon the cuts as part of their ill-advised showdown over the debt ceiling.) Second, government spending on supplies and salaries reverberates strongly through the economy, increasing demand and with it, employment. That means the economy suffers when government cuts back. A report by the Economic Policy Institute examined the effect of recent cutbacks at the state and local level — including direct loss of government jobs and indirect loss of suppliers’ jobs; the jobs that should have been added to keep up with population growth; and the reduction in purchasing power from other cutbacks. If not for state and local budget austerity, the report found, the economy would have 2.3 million more jobs today, half of which would be in the private sector. The government does not create jobs? It most certainly does. And at this time of state budgetary hardship, a dose of federal fiscal aid to states and localities could create more jobs, in both the public and private sectors.

  15. (…..) Over the past few months advisers to the Romney campaign have mounted a furious assault on the notion that financial-crisis recessions are different. For example, in July former Senator Phil Gramm and Columbia’s R. Glenn Hubbard published an op-ed article claiming that we should be having a recovery comparable to the bounceback from the 1981-2 recession, while a white paper from Romney advisers argues that the only thing preventing a rip-roaring boom is the uncertainty created by President Obama. Obviously, Republicans like claiming that it’s all Mr. Obama’s fault, and that electing Mr. Romney would magically make everything better. But nobody should believe them. For one thing, these people have a track record: back in 2008, when serious students of history were already predicting a prolonged slump, Mr. Gramm was dismissing America as a “nation of whiners” experiencing a mere “mental recession.” For another, if Mr. Obama is the problem, why is the United States actually doing better than most other advanced countries? The main point, however, is that the Romney team is willfully, nakedly, distorting the record, leading Ms. Reinhart and Mr. Rogoff — who aren’t affiliated with either campaign — to protest against “gross misinterpretations of the facts.” And this should worry you. Look, economics isn’t as much of a science as we’d like. But when there’s overwhelming evidence for an economic proposition — as there is for the proposition that financial-crisis recessions are different — we have the right to expect politicians and their advisers to respect that evidence. Otherwise, they’ll end up making policy based on fantasies rather than grappling with reality. And once politicians start refusing to acknowledge inconvenient facts, where does it stop? Why, the next thing you know Republicans will start rejecting the overwhelming evidence for man-made climate change. Oh, wait.

  16. Taxes and government spending. Health care. Immigration. Financial regulation. They are the issues that have dominated the political debate in recent years and have played a prominent role in this presidential campaign.

    But in many ways they have obscured what is arguably the nation’s biggest challenge: breaking out of a decade of income stagnation that has afflicted the middle class and the poor and exacerbated inequality. Many of the bedrock assumptions of American culture — about work, progress, fairness and optimism — are being shaken as successive generations worry about the prospect of declining living standards. No question, perhaps, is more central to the country’s global standing than whether the economy will perform better on that score in the future than it has in the recent past.

    The question has helped create a volatile period in American politics, with Democrats gaining large victories in 2006 and 2008, only to have Republicans return the favor in 2010. This year, economic anxiety, especially in industrial battlegrounds like Ohio, is driving the campaign strategies of both President Obama and Mitt Romney. The causes of income stagnation are varied and lack the political simplicity of calls to bring down the deficit or avert another Wall Street meltdown. They cannot be quickly remedied through legislation from Washington.

    The biggest causes, according to interviews with economists over the last several months, are not the issues that dominate the political debate. At the top of the list are the digital revolution, which has allowed machines to replace many forms of human labor, and the modern wave of globalization, which has allowed millions of low-wage workers around the world to begin competing with Americans. Not much further down the list is education, probably the country’s most diffuse, localized area of government policy.

    As skill levels have become even more important for prosperity, the United States has lost its once-large global lead in educational attainment. Some of the disconnect between the economy’s problems and the solutions offered by Washington stem from the nature of the current political debate. The presidential campaign has been more focused on Bain Capital and an “apology tour” than on the challenges created by globalization and automation.

    But economists and other analysts also point to the scale of the problem. No other rich country — not Japan, not any nation in Europe — has figured out exactly how to respond to the challenges. “The whole notion of the American dream,” said Frank Levy, an M.I.T. economist, “described a mass upward mobility that is just a lot harder to achieve right now.”

    For the first time since the Great Depression, median family income has fallen substantially over an entire decade. Income grew slowly through most of the last decade, except at the top of the distribution, before falling sharply when the financial crisis began (…..)


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