LIVE from DC: Redefining the Center (with Heather Boushey)

This special episode of Pitchfork Economics features a live conversation from the “Redefining the Center: How to Make Middle-Out Economics the New Mainstream” conference hosted by Democracy Journal in Washington, D.C. Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, joins Nick for a wide-ranging discussion moderated by Michael Tomasky, editor of Democracy Journal. Hanauer & Boushey explore the policy initiatives being pursued by the Biden administration that prioritize working families and promote economic growth from the middle out and discuss the crucial role of the middle out as a paradigm shift in how people think about economic cause and effect. This dynamic and thought-provoking discussion was a great start to an outstanding conference.

The True Crime of Wage Theft (with Terri Gerstein)

In the shadows of corporate greed and exploitation lies a sinister crime that is silently perpetrated, leaving countless victims in its wake—a crime that affects millions of hardworking Americans every year and sucks billions out of our economy —Wage Theft. No industry is immune to this insidious crime, from restaurant workers to construction laborers. On this episode of Pitchfork Economics, we are joined by Terri Gerstein, Director of the Labor Initiative at NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, to unpack the chilling truth behind these workplace crimes, learn who the perpetrators are, and uncover how they get away with it. Most importantly, what can be done to stop them?

Productivity is a Policy Choice (with Preston Mui)

Preston Mui, Senior Economist at Employ America, recently authored a report titled “The Dream of the 90s is Alive in 2024: How Policy Can Revive Productivity Growth.” The report offers a blueprint for policymakers seeking to emulate the successes of an unparalleled period of productivity in the United States. Mui joins us to examine and reflect on the policy decisions which drove the strong productivity growth of the 1990s, and he also identifies dynamic new strategies for revitalizing American production in the present. 

Why Wages Are Growing From the Bottom Up and Middle Out (with Arin Dube)

Today, Arin Dube, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, joins us to discuss his latest research, which suggests that the American labor market is undergoing a remarkable transformation. The widespread wage inequality that rapidly expanded between 1980 and 2019 is finally reversing, and American paychecks are growing again—especially at the bottom end of the income scale. In this enlightening conversation, Dube explains how and why the labor market has changed, how that’s affecting wages, and how it all contributes to a virtual cycle of middle-out economic growth.

The True Cost of Trump’s Tax Plan (with Samantha Jacoby)

In his State of the Union Address, President Biden made it clear that taxes and tax policy were his next big target for a middle-out makeover. However, we can’t talk about the future of taxes without discussing the potential expiration of Trump’s’ 2017 tax law. Samantha Jacoby, a senior tax analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, joins us today to help us understand the repercussions of Trump’s tax policies and the opportunities ahead. Trump’s tax law was marketed as a boon for every working American, promising an average annual benefit of $4,000. But Jacoby unveils the true economic reality behind the Trump tax law: the primary beneficiaries were the wealthiest individuals and corporations; they did not pay for themselves as promised; and despite the trillions of tax giveaways to people at the top, most Americans saw no tangible economic benefit.

Middle Out to Mainstream

Eleven years ago, Democracy Journal released a special issue on “The Middle Out Moment” that explored the implications of what was then the brand-new theory of middle-out economics. The moment may not have fully arrived back in 2013, but no doubt it’s here now. So this week, Democracy Journal is publishing a follow-up edition called “The Middle Out Moment Part Two,” marking the fact that what was once a new idea has now gone mainstream. In this episode, we’ll hear from several of the economists, researchers, and former administration officials who contributed to the special issue as they explore how middle-out economics has been put into practice — and discuss the work that lies ahead as middle-out economics becomes the new mainstream.

Why Americans are so displeased with the economy (with Aaron Sojourner)

The latest economic indicators show a historically strong economy. Over the past couple of years, the unemployment rate has consistently stayed below 4%, real wages have been growing faster than they have in decades, and economic growth has been strong. And yet, public opinion surveys consistently show dissatisfaction with economic conditions. Aaron Sojourner, a labor economist from the Upjohn Institute, joins us to discuss his research findings into why Americans are so displeased with the economy. Aaron helps us unpack the complicated relationship between news coverage of the economy and its effect on consumer sentiment.

A Tale of Two Tax Systems (with David Cay Johnston)

While the average American worker is subject to a progressive income tax system where tax rates increase as income rises, the wealthy often exploit a range of loopholes and deductions that significantly reduce their tax burden—sometimes to the point where the biggest corporations and one-percenters pay nothing at all. David Cay Johnston, a tax policy expert and former investigative journalist for the New York Times, joins us today to help unravel the complexity of the American tax system, which has functionally created two different tax systems: One for the wealthy and powerful and one for everyone else.

Why Flying Is Miserable And How to Fix It (with Ganesh Sitaraman)

Ganesh Sitaraman joins us today to discuss his new book, Why Flying Is Miserable And How to Fix It. Air travel has become an increasingly frustrating experience, with countless horror stories of cancellations, delays, lost baggage, cramped seats, and poor service. For most of the 20th century flying was luxurious and fun, so it’s especially baffling that air travel is plagued by these problems in the 21st century. Sitaraman delves into the reasons behind this dismal state of affairs, tracing it back to a deliberate choice made by elected leaders in the 1970s to roll back regulations, supposedly in order to increase competition and improve the experience of flying for everyone. After enduring half a century of turbulence caused by deregulation, people are fed up with the state of air travel, and Sitaraman gives us some insight into how we can begin to fix it.

The Future of Bidenomics (with Jared Bernstein)

President Biden’s economic policies mark a paradigm shift away from the trickle-down economics that have held sway over Washington DC for the past 40 years. Bidenomics recognizes that a strong and inclusive economy grows from the middle class outwards, centering working Americans and their families rather than relying on a top-down approach that benefits the wealthy first and foremost. In this episode, President Biden’s chief economic advisor, Jared Bernstein, joins us to unpack the key ideas behind this middleout understanding of how the economy really works, and to explain how Bidenomics is reshaping the economy to truly work for all Americans—not just a wealthy few at the top. After helping to engineer a best-in-the-world economic recovery from the pandemic, Bernstein explains what’s next for Bidenomics and the American economy.