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Opening Remarks - Jason Furman

Jason Furman, National Economic Council

Presentation summary

  • Inequality (four points)
    • Inequality has been a decades long process
      • Institutional factors: decline in labor unions, changes in the minimum wage, cultural perceptions about compensation
    • Inequality especially pronounced at the top
      • To be in the top 400 earners you need to make $110 million
      • Tax system makes this worse, because of tax structure is regressive
    • Unemployment is the most extreme form of inequality
    • Inequality can negatively impact growth and democracy
  • Three lessons/policy implications
    • 1. Focus on jobs – support the American Jobs Act
      • Given all the criticism of the plan, where is the Republican alternative?
    • 2. We can't fix every cause of inequality but the causes we can impact, we should
      • Examples: minimum wage, college enrollment, unionization, health-care costs
    • 3. Innovation can expand opportunities
      • Examples: green energy, infrastructure such as wireless rural broadband