Must-Read: The “Report” of the AEI/Brookings Working Group on Poverty and Opportunity does not have a chair or a lead author–just fifteen names listed in alphabetical order: Lawrence Aber (Brookings), Sheldon Danziger (Russell Sage), Robert Doar (AEI), David T. Ellwood (Harvard), Judith M. Gueron (MDRC), Jonathan Haidt (New York University), Ron Haskins (Brookings), Harry J. Holzer (Georgetown), Kay Hymowitz (Manhattan Institute), Lawrence Mead (New York University), Ronald Mincy (Columbia), Richard V. Reeves (Brookings), Michael R. Strain (American Enterprise Institute), Jane Waldfogel (Columbia).

I have read through the report.

My first reaction is that Brookings (and Russell Sage, NYU, Georgetown, Columbia, and MRDC) would have done much, much better from an intellectual-technocratic point of view to partner for their working group not with AEI but with something like Demos or Roosevelt.

I really don’t see what any of the AEI/Manhattan people brought to the table that was useful–i.e., both true and relevant to policy. But the Report would, I think have been much strengthened by stronger and more thoughtful engagement with things like:

The only justification I can think of for the form this has taken is that partnering with AEI is bringing substantial political benefits–i.e., explicit endorsement of the Report by current Republican office-holders with the power to move things through the House and the Senate, to be followed by commitments and action on their part to actually move policies based on the report through the Congress. And I see none of that here.

Thus I find myself, at first reading, relatively disappointed with:

AEI/Brookings Working Group on Poverty and Opportunity: Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring The American Dream