June 15, 2012
(In)equality in the 21st Century: What's Law Got to Do With It?
Bob HerbertDistinguished Senior Fellow, DEMOS; Former Op-Ed columnist, New York Times
Gene B. SperlingDirector of the National Economic Council; Assistant to the President for Economic Policy
Peter EdelmanBoard Chair, American Constitution Society for Law and Policy
Angela Glover BlackwellFounder and CEO, PolicyLink
Mary Kay HenryPresident, SEIU
Lawrence MeadProfessor of Politics and Public Policy, New York University
Alan JenkinsExecutive Director and Co-Founder, The Opportunity Agenda
This plenary examined the forms and consequences of economic inequality today and considered how government and law should work to restore stability and opportunity to the many families who are a paycheck, health crisis, or missed mortgage payment away from ruin. Beyond the extremes of rich and poor, economic stratification has emerged as a defining feature of American life. The economic insecurity facing American households has changed the political conversation and raised the question of the adequacy of our current laws. This panel discussed how government measures in key areas – including tax, labor, health care, welfare, criminal justice and education – can respond to the economic and social challenges faced by those in the middle class and those living at the margins of our society. What kinds of policies are needed to close the economic divide? What specific policies could be enacted at the local, state and national levels to move us toward a more just society?