Wednesday July 11th, the Asset Building Program will be hosting an event focused on the special July/August issue of the Washington Monthly. "The Future of Success" takes a look at current economic conditions, how we got here, the impact of the recession on the wealth of American families, and how we might get out. The editors and writers of the Monthly have taken the asset building perspective to heart and decided that it is a critical tool for restoring the American Dream. The event will feature two panels, one comprised of contributors to the issue, the other of expert commentators on the issues at hand.
As the event description notes, the presidential race is revolving in large part around the economy and state of jobs. Anyone watching their Twitter feed Friday morning will know that the most recently released jobs report showed only modest job gains and no change in the unemployment rate. But even before the recession, many people, employed and not, struggled to eke out a middle class existence. Personal debt was up, while the savings rate was at rock bottom. The recession was a “perfect storm” that decimated wealth for people across the income spectrum (except at the tippy top) and erased modest improvements in closing the racial wealth gap.
As America votes this fall, what issues will hit home for the working poor, the long-term unemployed, and those who are finding middle class aspirations like a comfortable retirement and college for their kids out of reach? Wednesday, we’ll ask our panels to weigh in on this and other related questions. How can government and public policy more effectively support wealth building and financial stability, particularly for the lowest-income members of society? How can our tax code deliver subsidies in a more strategic way to help Americans of modest means save and become successful homeowners? Can we chart a course forward that brings sustainable economic growth into alignment with the need for personal financial security?
If you’re not in the D.C. area, watch live on the web at 9:15am Eastern Time on the 11th. We'll also be live tweeting the event from our @AssetsNAF account and using #jobsarenotenough.
In advance, here’s a smattering of some of the work we’ll talk about at the event:
Phil Longman, chronicles the “perfect storm” of financial deregulation, a shift away from traditional pension benefits, a rise in predatory lending, and flawed retirement policies, in "The Hole in the Bucket" and also makes the case for "American Stakeholder Accounts," a model for universal accounts.
In "The 'Assets Effect,'" Dana Goldstein presents research from William Elliott (a Senior Research Fellow at New America) and colleagues that shows a promising correlation between ownership of savings accounts and college enrollment rates for low-income youth.
Reid Cramer, the Asset Building Program’s director, sets out an assets-based agenda that builds on our program’s and partners’ work from over the years. From Rental Assistance Asset Accounts to AutoIRAs and revamped public benefits programs, we’re not short on ideas for how to improve the economic outlook for average Americans.
In "Michael Sheradden’s Compounding Interest," Mark Schmitt of the Roosevelt Institute looks at two decades of work backing up an asset-oriented understanding of poverty alleviation. Schmitt also looks at the political palatability of asset building.
Paul Glastris, Editor of the Washington Monthly, David Leonhardt, Washington Bureau Chief of the New York Times, and Heather McGhee, Vice President of Policy and Outreach for Demos, will comment on the themes presented in these articles and offer broader political and historical context to the conversation.
Join us Wednesday morning for what promises to be a vibrant discussion on how we can chart a politically-viable course forward to a more prosperous, equitable and stable future for America.