Research on Tap: Investing in an equitable future
Research shows that the Great Recession prolonged long-term scarring for many workers and their families, in part because U.S. policymakers failed to see an economic recovery through to its conclusion. In the decade following the Great Recession, wages stagnated and working and middle-class families barely recovered, despite record-long economic growth. Indeed, younger workers, rural communities, and many families—especially families of color—never recovered.
In short, the need for substantially greater public investments in sustainable economic growth existed before any of us had ever heard of the new coronavirus.
Now, in the wake of the pandemic, there is an opportunity to address pervasive economic inequality and make critical investments in human, physical, and intellectual capital. If policymakers do it right, then the United States could emerge from the coronavirus recession stronger, more resilient, and more equitable.
The Washington Center for Equitable Growth and the Groundwork Collaborative relaunched our popular event series Research on Tap, a space for drinks, dialogue, and debate. In this installment, we discussed the role of increasing investments to address the underlying structural inequalities laid bare by the coronavirus recession and advance a sustained economic recovery that puts the United States on a path to strong, stable, and broadly shared growth.
The event kicked off with a one-on-one conversation between Chair Rouse and Washington Post reporter Tracy Jan, who covers the intersection of race and the economy.
Tracy Jan covers the intersection of race and the economy for The Washington Post, a beat she launched in December 2016 that encompasses racial economic disparities, immigration, housing policy and other stories that hold businesses and politicians accountable for their decisions and promises. Her work has delved deeply into reparations for slavery, systemic racism in America, and the economic and health impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Black, Asian, Latino and immigrant communities. She previously was a Washington-based national political reporter for The Boston Globe, where she covered the 2016 and 2012 presidential campaigns. During her 12 years at the Globe, Jan had also written about health and science policy, higher education, and Boston Public Schools. She started her career as a crime and courts reporter at The Oregonian after receiving her bachelor’s degree in communication and master’s degree in sociology from Stanford University. She was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, as well as a Fulbright Fellow in Taiwan. She has reported from Taipei, Beijing, Tibet and along the Yangtze River.
Cecilia Elena Rouse was confirmed by the Senate on March 2, 2021 as the 30th Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, making her the first Black leader of C.E.A. in its 75-year history. In this role, she serves as President Biden’s Chief Economist and a Member of the Cabinet. She is the Katzman-Ernst Professor in the Economics of Education and Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Immediately prior to the Administration, Rouse served as the dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. From 2009 to 2011, Rouse served as a member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. She worked at the National Economic Council in the Clinton administration as a Special Assistant to the President from 1998 to 1999. Her academic research has focused on the economics of education, including the benefits of community colleges and impact of student loan debt, as well as discrimination and the forces that hold some Americans back in the economy. Rouse was the founding director of the Princeton Education Research Section, and she served as senior editor of The Future of Children, a policy journal published by Princeton and the Brookings Institution. She previously served on the boards of the Council of Foreign Relations, University of Rhode Island and the National Bureau of Economic Research, and was an independent director of the T. Rowe Price Funds. Rouse joined the Princeton faculty in 1992 after earning her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, where she also completed her undergraduate work.
Following, four leading experts discussed strategic investments to spur structural change.
Jhumpa Bhattacharya is the Vice President of Programs and Strategy at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. In this role, Jhumpa is a key contributor to the thought leadership of the Insight Center, provides cross-program content support and strategic guidance, and oversees the racial and economic justice portfolio. She directly leads work identifying policy and narrative solutions to racial and gender wealth inequities as well as work on mitigating the harms of mass incarceration.
Joelle Gamble serves as a Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy on the Biden-Harris National Economic Council. Prior to this role, she was an economic policy advisor on the Biden-Harris Transition, a principal for the Reimagining Capitalism initiative at Omidyar Network and a Senior Advisor to the CEO and Director at the Roosevelt Institute. Joelle holds degrees in international development from UCLA and economic policy from Princeton University.
Saule T. Omarova is the Beth and Marc Goldberg Professor of Law and Director of the Jack Clarke Program on the Law and Regulation of Financial Institutions and Markets at Cornell University. Professor Omarova’s research focuses on systemic risk regulation and structural trends in financial markets, banking law, and political economy of finance. Prior to joining academia, she served at the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Special Advisor for Regulatory Policy to the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance. She holds a Ph.D. degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a J.D. degree from Northwestern University.
Amanda Fischer is the Policy Director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Prior to joining Equitable Growth, she worked for more than a decade on Capitol Hill in roles related to economic policymaking. Fischer was most recently chief of staff for Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA). She also served as staff on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), as a policy advisor for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and as deputy staff director for the House Committee on Financial Services for Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA). She graduated with a bachelor’s degrees in business administration and public policy from the University at Buffalo and an M.A. in public policy from Georgetown University.
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