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A Way Out of Gridlock

With unemployment too high, economic growth too low, and the gap between the rich and poor widening, the American Dream is hurting. Adding to the gloom is the polarization in Wash­ington, where even a simple task like raising the country’s debt ceiling nearly led to economic cataclysm this summer.

Yet the dream lives on for many Americans. Polling earlier this year indicates nearly 7 out of 10 Americans believe they have achieved or will achieve the American Dream. This bedrock devotion to the American Dream presents policy-makers in Washington with a way out of political gridlock, says the Pew Charitable Trust, which launched its Economic Mobility Project four years ago.


Pew assembled a group of Washington think tank scholars from across the political spectrum and asked them to lay out the facts on economic mobility and propose any necessary policy solutions. The project was the brainchild of Pew’s board, which still includes several descendants of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew. “They were very aware of and cognizant of discussions around income inequality, but it’s a divisive topic,” says Erin Currier, the project’s manager. “So the question was: How could the organization begin thinking about the American Dream in a non-politically polarizing way? They settled on the frame of economic mobility.”

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Economic Mobility Project

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