The problem isn't lack of knowledge on what to do, but partisan arguments that ignore common-sense consensus. America needs an activist government and individual responsibility. It needs immediate job creation, and over the long term, debt reduction and stronger families.
Restoring opportunity in the United States is not terribly complicated. It will require an activist government and individual responsibility. That means a strong focus on job creation right now, combined with efforts to reduce debt, improve education, and strengthen families over the longer-run.
Success on these fronts is undermined not by a lack of knowledge about what to do, but by partisan arguments that ignore the kind of common-sense consensus that might otherwise prevail.
An update of my earlier work on economic mobility in the US, coauthored with Julia Isaacs and Ron Haskins and recently released by the Pew Charitable Trusts, confirms that there is less economic mobility in America than many believe, especially at the top and bottom of the distribution of income and wealth.
A child’s chances of ending up in the middle class or above that level are more than twice as high for those born into an affluent family (the top 20 percent) as for those born in a poor family (the bottom 20 percent).
President Obama has given this issue prominent attention, especially in the speech he gave in Osawatomie, Kan., on Dec. 6 last year. He emphasized the importance of working hard and playing by the rules but stressed that those who do so should have a “fair shot” at the American Dream.