What Should Be Done to Help the Working Class?

Michael Froman, Steven Rattner, and Gillian Tett at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June 2016.

President-elect Donald Trump has delivered ideas on how to help the working class: restrictions on immigration, tax cuts, and renegotiating trade deals. At the Aspen Ideas Festival in June, economic experts also weighed in. For families dealing with stagnating wages, a decline in manufacturing jobs, and the impact of trade, what can be done? 

“There has been a drop in the absolute number of manufacturing jobs for a long time,” says Steven Rattner, lead advisor on the 2009 Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry. Last year 2.7 million new jobs were created, but Rattner says, just 1 percent were in manufacturing. Wages factor in as well. “Since the bottom of the recession in 2009, the average worker in manufacturing has had their wages go down by 2.5 percent.” In the auto industry, he says the average worker has seen their wages drop by 12.5 percent. “As a country, we need to be doing a lot more to help the people who are being left behind.”
Michael Froman, President Obama’s chief trade negotiator, agrees more should be done, but he says, “we should recognize some of the major steps that have been taken.” American businesses have added 15.5 million jobs since 2010, and Froman says, 800,000 of those have been in manufacturing. A reform of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program covers “services workers as well as manufacturing workers, and workers who are displaced.” And he cites improvements to federal training programs, making them more “demand-driven.” Going forward, he says we need to be focused on “infrastructure, lifelong learning, education, skills building, and the like.”


Lawmakers Pass Health Legislation

A bill that speeds new medicines to market and allocates millions for research is one signature away from becoming law. The 21st Century Cures Act cleared its final hurdle Wednesday with a majority vote in the Senate. “What we think this bill will do is expedite biomedical research in a safe way that protects patients and their privacy,” says Diana DeGette (D-CO). She’s a key sponsor and spoke in depth about the bill at Spotlight Health.



Why Do Happy People Cheat?

Why do happily married couples cheat? Why does the modern egalitarian approach to marriage quash desire? In this episode of Aspen Ideas to Go, author and couples therapist Esther Perel tackles infidelity. She wrote the bestseller Mating in Captivity and is a consultant for the Showtime television series The Affair. She’s interviewed by Hanna Rosin, cohost of NPR’s Invisibilia. Find it on iTunes, your favorite podcasting app, and the NPR One app.


Memorable Words


“I want to take issue with the idea of rebuilding trust, because there’s no evidence there was once a period of trust [between police and communities of color].” — Sherrilyn Ifill, Aspen Ideas 2016