fskaplanAnyone following the news knows income inequality is at the front of political debate.

New findings from Pew Research Center show that the middle class has been in steady decline since 1971, and that while median incomes for the middle class have risen 34% since 1970, upper income households have seen a 47% increase. Since 1971, each decade has a decrease in the number of middle-income households, and no one decade signals a rapid decline.

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img_0674Many “progressive” Democrats, including Hillary Clinton rival Bernie Sanders, argue America should model itself on Scandinavia and its egalitarian social democracies. As Sanders told ABC News, “I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.”

But is IKEAmerica really possible or even desirable? To find out about whether the US should be Swedenizing — as well as the latest about that country’s immigration crisis — I chat with Tino Sanandaji, a Stockholm — based economist and author who received his graduate degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. Some listeners may be familiar with his work in National Review where he has written on immigration, education, and entrepreneurship.

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With the presidential election season in full swing, candidates in both parties are unveiling sweeping tax reform plans. But what’s smart public policy and what’s mere political posturing? To help find out, I chat with Stan Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute on this episode of Ricochet’s Political Economy podcast.

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Where are all the startups? The pace of US business creation has been declining for 30 years, leading to less innovation, economic growth, and job creation.

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On the latest Money & Politics episode, podcast host James Pethokoukis explores this mystery with Ian Hathaway, founder and managing director of Ennsyte, a San Francisco-based economics and research consulting firm. Hathaway is also a visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and an advisor to early-stage technology startups. His current research focuses primarily on technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth.

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Why has the US recovery been so anemic? Folks on the right like to talk about “uncertainty” stemming from President Obama’s economic policy. Folks on the left have latched onto a theory called “secular stagantion,” cooked up by former Obama economist Larry Summers that has to do with chronic inadequate demand. In a previous podcast, we chatted with Tyler Cowen on his “great stagnation’ theory on declining innovation.”

But in his essay “Technological Unemployment Amidst Stagnation” blogger, ex-banker, and current entrepreneur Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 4.02.34 PMAshwin Parameswaran offers a different theory in an attempt to answer why the recovery has been slow as well as why “the “benefits of the current economic recovery have flown disproportionately towards corporate profits with wages and employment lagging far behind.” In this episode of the Ricochet Money and Politics Podcast, I chat with Parameswaran about his ideas.

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lindsey-1It used to be common for the US economy to post a quarter of 4% or faster real GDP growth. In the 1980s (1981-1990), there were 18 such quarters. In the 1990s (1991-2000), another 18 quarters. But in the 53 quarters since then, the US economy has generated only six three-month periods of 4% real GDP growth or faster, including just two during the Not-So-Great Recovery. To help find out what’s gone wrong and continues to go wrong with the sputtering American Growth Machine, this episode of the Ricochet Money & Politics Podcast features a chat with Brink Lindsey, vice president of research at the Cato Institute. At Cato, Lindsey has has written on a wide range of topics including trade policy, globalization, American social and cultural history, and the nature of human capital. His current research focuses on economic growth and the policy barriers that impede it. Among his papers: Why Growth is Getting Harder. Lindsey is also author of the 2013 book, Human Capitalism: How Economic Growth Has Made Us Smarter–and More Unequal.

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arthurbrooksIn the 1930s, statists used the Great Depression as an excuse to attack free enterprise. Now their successors are using the Great Recession to do much the same. In this episode of the Ricochet Money & Politics podcast, I chat about the future of free enterprise and the US welfare state with Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute and a regular New York Times opinion writer.

Immediately before joining AEI, Brooks was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government at Syracuse University, where he taught economics and social entrepreneurship. He is also the author of 10 books, the most recent being “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise.”

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What does a smart center-right growth and jobs agenda look like? On this week’s episode of Ricochet’s Money & Politics podcast, I ask that question of Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute. A repeat guest on the podcast, Strain began his career in the research group of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Before joining AEI, he managed the New York Census Research Data Center, a U.S. Census Bureau research facility. He writes frequently on labor markets, taxes, and inequality.

A Jobs Agenda for the Right – National Affairs

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Robert DoarWhat’s happening with the War on Poverty, and what should conservatives do next? On this episode of Ricochet’s Money & Politics Podcast, we chat with Robert Doar, the Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies at the American Enterprise Institute where he evaluates how free enterprise and improved federal policies and programs can reduce poverty and provide opportunities for vulnerable Americans. Before joining AEI, Doar was commissioner of New York City’s Human Resources Administration, the largest local social services agency in the United States. In the podcast, Doar gives his take on what the War on Poverty accomplished and also left undone. And he explains why work needs to be at the heart of center-right reform.

Here are a few of Doar’s recent writings:

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Are America’s K-12 schools fixable? And do center-right policymakers have any better

ideas than just school vouchers? On this new episode of the Ricochet Money & Politics Podcast, I chat with Michael McShane, former inner-city high school teacher and current research fellow in education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.Some of McShane’s recent writings:

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Do broken families trap millions of Americans in poverty? On this episode of Ricochet’s Money & Politics podcast, I chat with Prof. Brad Wilcox, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute where he directs The Home Economics Project. Inaugurated in fall of 2013, the research project explores the links between family structure and economic growth in 20 countries around the world — more specifically, how marriage and a strong family life foster free enterprise. Dr. Wilcox is also an associate professor in the department of sociology at the University of Virginia, where he directs the National Marriage Project.

Knot yet: The benefits and costs of delayed marriage in America

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Will robots take all our jobs? In this episode of the Ricochet Money & Politics Podcast, we’ll try and find out by chatting with MIT’s Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson. They’re the authors of the new book, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. This is our second podcast with Brynjolfsson, with the previous one about his e-book, Race Against the Machine, also written with McAfee.

Also of interest:5 questions for … Erik Brynjolfsson, co-author of Race Against the Machine

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You can’t legally make and market your own Mickey Mouse cartoon. And that’s bad for the American economy. In this episode of Ricochet’s Money & Politics Podcast, I chat with technology policy consultant Derek Khanna. Khanna is also a fellow with the Information Society Project at Yale Law School and a former lead staffer for the Republican Study Committee where he focused on defense, technology and national security issues with a particular expertise in intellectual property, privacy and cyber security legislation. In addition, Khanna writes regularly for Forbes.com.

Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix It  – Derek Khanna for the RSC

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Are the best days for the US economy over? Or is another golden age of growth and innovation already beginning? There are few people better to ask than Stephen Oliner, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior fellow at UCLA’s Zyman Center for Real Estate.

Oliner joined AEI after spending more than 25 years at the Federal Reserve Board,where he specialized in analyzing US productivity. In a recent paper, Oliner writes that slower productivity growth of late is largely explained by reduced contributions from information technology, after the tech boom from the mid-1990s to about 2004. But he also points out, for instance, that chip innovation is continuing at a rapid pace, “raising the possibility of a second wave in the IT revolution [and] that the pace of labor productivity growth could rise to its long-run average of 2¼ percent or even above.” Are we stuck in a Great Stagnation or new Era of Innovation? We try and find out on this episode of Ricochet’s Money & Politics podcast.

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Fifty years after LBJ announced the War on Poverty, the poverty rate is as high as ever recorded. At the same time, labor force participation is way down and disability is at record levels. Is this the best we can do? Senator Marco Rubio doesn’t think so and just unveiled a bold anti-poverty, pro-economic mobility agenda.

On this episode of the Ricochet Money & Politics podcast, I chat with Oren Cass, former domestic policy director of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Cass recently wrote a National Review article which heavily influenced Rubio’s thinking on these issues.

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At some point, just about every analysis of what’s really wrong with the U.S. economy says something like this: “And, of course, we need to reform the education system.”

But what does that mean? On this episode of Ricochet’s Money & Politics Podcast, we ask William J. Bennett that very question. Dr. Bennett is the host of the Morning in America radio program and former Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan. He is also the author of more than 24 books, including two New York Times #1 best sellers. His latest book, co-authored with David Wilezol, is Is College Worth It?: A Former United States Secretary of Education and a Liberal Arts Graduate Expose the Broken Promise of Higher Education.

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It’s not just driverless cars. In the latest Ricochet Money & Politics podcast, economist, transportation expert, and blogger David Levinson argues traffic is declining and will continue to decline dramatically in the coming decades. And that decline is not only the result of some deeper economic and technological trends, but will itself cause a radical restructuring of American society.

What happened to traffic? — The Transportationist

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What if smart machines do take all our jobs — or at least a lot of them? What can policymakers do to make sure more Americans get their income from owning capital as opposed to selling their devalued labor? That is one of several topics discussed on the latest Ricochet Money & Politics podcast. Our guest is Noah Smith, an assistant professor of finance at The State University of New York at Stony Brook. Smith blogs at Noahpinion and writes occasionally writes for The Atlantic.

In addition to explaining how to protect workers from the rise of the robots, Smith also highlights the one key difference between kids who excel at math and those who don’t and reveals whether inflation really is a big problem right now.

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Both Democrats and Republicans know America desperately needs tax reform. But what changes would both boost long-term growth and bring in enough revenue to pay the bills? In this week’s Money & Politics podcast, we chat with economist Alan Viard, tax policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

Prior to joining AEI, Viard was a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and an assistant professor of economics at Ohio State University. He has also been a visiting scholar at the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Tax Analysis, a senior economist at the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, and a staff economist at the Joint Committee on Taxation of the US Congress. Viard received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and a B.A. in economics from Yale University.

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Believing in the power of free markets, small government, and low taxes doesn’t necessarily mean you also need to be a hard-money gold bug. On this episode of Ricochet’s Money & Politics podcast, we chat with Michael Darda, chief economist and chief market strategist at MKM Partners, an institutional equity research, sales, and trading firm in Stamford, Connecticut. Before coming to MKM, Darda worked as chief economist and director of international research at Polyconomics, started by supply-side godfather Jude Wanniski.

In our chat, Darda explains how the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing, or bond-buying strategy, has helped offset the 2013 tax hikes and spending cuts. In addition, he explains the evolution of his own thinking on monetary policy away from the traditional supply-side “strong dollar, sound money, gold standard” approach.

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