What should the overarching goal for our nation’s economic policy be? Robert D. Atkinson breaks down three potential paths—freedom, fairness, or flourishing.
Joe Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan is big and bold. Most pundits and the media see it as a rejection of the prior half century of small government, free-market conservative thinking and a new kind of growth policy. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, “It all marks a major turning point for economic policy. The gamble underlying the agenda is the belief that government can be a primary driver for growth.”
But this is wrong. The plan, and much of the administration’s economic agenda, is not based on the belief that government can be a primary driver for growth, any more than the conservative’s free market agenda was based the belief that free markets were the key driver of growth. Free-market conservativism was first and foremost about freedom. Progressive economics is first and foremost about fairness: widescale redistribution of income and wealth.
This gets to the pivotal question for our nation’s economic policy: what should the overarching goal be? There are three choices…