Spotlight Exclusives

Poverty & Campaign 2008: Where Are We Heading?

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Welcome to our dialogue about poverty. My colleague John Bridgeland and I envisioned that as part of any website covering developments in the worlds of poverty, politics, and policy there should be some debate.

In the months ahead, we hope to offer our own sometimes conflicting views, comment on each other’s positions and developments in the campaigns, and bring to you interesting, timely views from others. The submissions will vary in length, we aim to be as concise as possible.

We come at the subject from opposite sides of the aisle. I’ll let Mr. Bridgeland introduce himself, but among other things he was Director for the Domestic Policy Council for the current President Bush. I worked in the Domestic Policy Council too as the Special Assistant for Policy Planning, but for President Clinton, and later worked as a Senior Advisor to the President. We both worked on the preceding presidential campaigns, and continue to work with foundations and others involved in policy and poverty issues.

We want our discussion to be relevant and interesting. And I can’t think of a more relevant and interesting question to start off with than this. Already in this presidential campaign we’ve had poverty tours, pledges to end poverty in a generation, and plans to cover every uninsured person with health insurance. But where is the debate heading? We have heard some excellent statements. But will there be a real cross party discussion is there a dialogue or a set of monologues ahead?

It is no doubt an understatement to say many poverty advocates are disappointed in this Administration, but at least in 2000 President Bush ran on being a “compassionate conservative” and he talked about some important poverty related issues. There is a real question about who on the conservative side of presidential wanna be۪s is willing to engage in a debate now about how to take the problem on.  Will a bold conservative idea emerge on how to deal with poverty?

Please write soon, many of us are curious, what will be the successor, if any, to the rhetoric of compassionate conservatism…

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