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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The American way of life is about to change dramatically. And we discuss just how it’s about to change on this week’s Ricochet Money & Politics Podcast. Our guest is is Tyler Cowen, the Holbert L. Harris Professor of Economics at George Mason University and co-author of the popular blog Marginal Revolution. Professor Cowen also writes the Economic Scene column for The New York Times. In addition, he is a co-founder of the online education venture Marginal Revolution University and is widely regarded as one of the most influential economists of the past decade.

Cowen’s new book is Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation. It is a followup to your popular e-book The Great The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better.

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Conservatives often suggest cutting taxes on companies to boost economic growth. But what about cutting taxes on kids? Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, recently suggested dramatically expanding the child tax credit to do just that, as well as to end an unfair “double tax” on American parents.In this week’s Money & Politics Podcast, we’ll chat with the author of that idea, Robert Stein, deputy chief economist at First Trust Advisors. Immediately prior to joining First Trust, Stein was assistant secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury Department. Between 1996 and 2002 Stein was chief economist for the Senate Budget Committee on Capitol Hill and an economist for the Senate Banking Committee and Joint Economic Committee. Prior to his tenure on Capitol Hill and the Treasury Department, Stein was a journalist for Investor’s Business Daily.

Stein outlined his proposal in a 2010 National Affairs article. As he wrote then:

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Is there a way to save Social Security without raising taxes — and make it better? There is, and we discuss that solution in the latest Ricochet Money & Politics Podcast with guest Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute. Before joining AEI, Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration, where he oversaw SSA’s policy research efforts. In 2005, as an associate director of the Bush White House National Economic Council, he worked on Social Security reform. In addition to discussing his pro-growth Social Security reform plan, Biggs explains why changing inflation measures, popular with Republicans, is a poor way to fix entitlements.

Among Biggs’s writings:

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Is all the Fed’s money pumping going to ruin America? We look for the answer to that question on the latest Ricochet Money & Politics Podcast with guest David Beckworth, professor of economics at Western Kentucky University and a former international economist at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Professor Beckworth also blogs at the popular Macro and Other Market Musings. His analysis has also appeared in National Review and The Atlantic with frequent writing partner Ramesh Ponnuru.In this episode, Beckworth starts out by explaining the basics of monetary policy and then analyzes the pros and cons of the Fed’s bond buying, or quantitative easing, policy. He also critiques a recent George Will column on the Fed. Finally, Beckworth explains whether or not the gold standard could work today.

For more of Beckworth’s insights:

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How do economies grow? And where on this subject do the right and left agree and disagree?

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Is America growing more economically unequal? And if so, does it really matter? On this episode or Ricochet’s Money & Politics podcast, Jim’s guest is Scott Winship, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Previously a fellow at the Brookings Institution, Winship’s areas of expertise include living standards and economic mobility, inequality, and insecurity. Before that, he was research manager of the Economic Mobility Project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and a senior policy advisor at Third Way.

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My guest in this episode is noted immigration expert Madeline Zavodny, professor of economics at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. She is also co-author of Beside the Golden Door: U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization.

Zavodny, an AEI scholar, favors the comprehensive immigration reform bill currently making its way through Congress.

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Is it time for Washington to break up or shrink America’s largest banks? On this week’s Money & Politics Podcast, Jim’s guest is economist Simon Johnson who advocates doing just that. Johnson, currently an MIT business professor, used to be the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. He’s also a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington and a co-founder of the financial blog BaselineScenario.

In addition, Johnson is a weekly contributor to The New York Times’ Economix blog and a regular Bloomberg columnist. Along with James Kwak, Johnson is author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and The Next Financial Meltdown and White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt and Why it Matters to You.

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On this week’s Ricochet Money & Politics Podcast, Jim’s guest is economist Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute. 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.

Strain recently co-authored a study debunking the notion, now widely held in left-of-center circles, that top marginal tax rates could rise to 70%, 80%, or even 90% without crippling the US economy. Just as importantly, Strain argues the moral and values case against those levels of confiscatory taxation.Missing an episode of the Money and Politics podcast will cost you money. Subscribe here.

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On this week’s Ricochet Money & Politics Podcast, Jim’s guest is Erik Brynjolfsson, director of MIT’s Center for Digital Business at the Sloan School of Management.

Brynjolfsson is also co-author, along with Andrew McAfee, of Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy. The 60-page ebook explores the apparent disconnect between a) rising innovation and productivity, and b) weak job and income growth.

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On this week’s Ricochet Money & Politics Podcast, Jim’s guest is Russell Roberts, research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Roberts is also host of the weekly podcast series EconTalk and co-blogs over at Cafe Hayek with colleague Don Boudreaux.

In addition, Roberts is author of several books, including The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity (Princeton University Press, 2008). And his two rap videos, created with filmmaker John Papola and “starring” John Maynard Keynes and F.A. Heyek, have more than five million views on YouTube.

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On this week’s Ricochet Money & Politics Podcast, Jim’s guest is Richard Burkhauser, economics professor at Cornell University. Prof. Burkhauser and his team at Cornell have done some amazing research that gives a much different perspective on the issue of income inequality. The mainstream media opinion holds that middle-class income have gone nowhere for 30 years while the income gap between the rich and everybody else has widened.

Underlying that thesis is the work of two economists, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. According to them, median American incomes, adjusted for inflation, rose just 3.2% from 1979 through 2007.

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