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Moyers & Company

The Conscience Of A Compassionate Conservative

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Arthur C. Brooks says that despite the heated rhetoric of the far right, the compassionate conservatism once touted by George W. Bush isn't dead. It's alive and well at the conservative American Enterprise Institute -- AEI - where Brooks became president in 2009. Residing now at the top of the conservative pecking order in Washington, Brooks advises Republican leaders in Congress and spreads AEI's message to a wider audience. His specialty, as Newsweek describes it, is "translating ideas from policy speak into soaring moral prose." One of his key ideas: The endgame of free enterprise is not to preserve wealth but to create opportunity for the poor. This week on Moyers & Company (check local listings), Moyers and Brooks engage in a lively exchange over the safety net, which Brooks supports for the very poor, and a hike in the minimum wage, which he opposes. "The problem with the minimum wage is that it hurts the people it's supposed to help," he claims. "...It's the worst way to try to wipe out the unemployment scourge that we have in this country. We don't have a low wage problem. We have an unemployment problem in the bottom 50%. America has left the bottom behind. And we have a conspiracy -- we have a left wing politically that talks about solutions, but has no implementable answers that actually help poor people. And we have a right wing that traditionally doesn't even talk about poverty." Moyers presses Brooks on why companies like Target, McDonald's and Walmart don't pay a living wage to their employees who then have to rely on public programs to support themselves - in Walmart's case, about $4,000 per worker. Brooks argues the market doesn't support higher wages and agrees that the country needs public policies that make work pay for those who perform it. While "free enterprise is a system of institutions and cultural values that respect the individual," he says, "... it has no hostility" toward the idea of government or a safety net. Once a classical musician


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  • Democrats Bow Down to Wall Street
  • The United States of Ferguson
  • The Long, Dark Shadows of Plutocracy
  • How Public Power Can Defeat Plutocrats
  • The Bare Knuckle Fight Against Money in Politics
  • Facing Down Corporate Election Greed
  • Breaking Big Money’s Grip on Elections
  • The Fight — and the Right — to Vote
  • Keeping Faith in Democracy
  • Restoring an America That Has Lost Its Way
  • Too Big to Jail?
  • America’s New War in the Middle East
  • Climate Change: The Next Generation
  • Climate Change: Faith and Fact
  • Elizabeth Warren on Fighting Back Against Wall St. Giants
  • How Tax Reform Can Save the Middle Class
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz: Let’s Stop Subsidizing Tax Dodgers
  • Facing Evil with Maya Angelou
  • Going Home with Maya Angelou
  • John Lithgow on The Role of a Lifetime
  • The Conscience of a Compassionate Conservative


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