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David Brook's shell game

If you want to see the economic takedown of David Brook's latest article blaming teenage moms and pot smokers for economic inequality, see Dean Baker and Paul Krugman and also the "Top Picks" on the comments section of Brook's column.

But on top of all the factual inaccuracies, there's also the strategic distraction that comes out of this kind of "reasonable conservative" schtick. Brooks writes:

[T]he income inequality frame needlessly polarizes the debate. There is a growing consensus that government should be doing more to help increase social mobility for the less affluent. Even conservative Republicans are signing on to this. The income inequality language introduces a class conflict element to this discussion.

Democrats often see low wages as both a human capital problem and a problem caused by unequal economic power. Republicans are more likely to see them just as a human capital problem. If we're going to pass bipartisan legislation, we're going to have to start with the human capital piece, where there is some agreement, not the class conflict piece, where there is none.

...If we're going to mobilize a policy revolution, we should focus on the real concrete issues: bad schools, no jobs for young men, broken families, neighborhoods without mediating institutions. We should not be focusing on a secondary issue and a statistical byproduct.

Sure, ok, i'm on board with that for starters. Please name 40 Republican Senators and 118 Republican Congressman that will vote for a bill that funds schools, infrastructure spending, and social workers to address "bad schools, no jobs for young men, and broken families and neighborhoods without mediating institutions". But of course that's not possible. Republicans wouldn't even agree that those are the solutions to those problems, and addressing those issues aren't Republican priorities in any event. So suggesting that Democrats try to find some sort of bipartisan compromise is nothing more than a stalling tactic. So we'll keep pushing for a minimum wage increase and other measures to reduce income inequality. Thanks for the concern trolling.

Update: Yglesias covers my concern.

By fnord12 | January 17, 2014, 11:34 AM | Liberal Outrage