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On this episode, Roqayah and Kumars talk to Matt Bruenig, a writer and researcher who focuses on poverty, inequality, and welfare programs. We really wanted to have Matt on to help us understand some of the history of US welfare programs and what Trump’s likely cuts will mean, especially for the poorest Americans. We discuss the role of welfare programs in a capitalist society, and go over the main components of the US welfare state. Matt describes what the social safety net looked like following its establishment during the New Deal under FDR and its expansion under LBJ's Great Society. We discuss rounds of expansion and contraction under subsequent presidents including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as what's in store for the welfare state under Trump and GOP governance. We talk about the failure of the liberal democratic welfare state framework, and discuss how universal, rather than means-tested or identity-based welfare programs could be more durable. We go over a couple of examples of universal programs, including universal basic income and medicare for all. Matt debunks some of the main criticisms of these programs, and makes clear that these are definitely achievable goals.
Patreon subscribers also get more show! We talk about Matt's new baby, his cross-eyed cat, and other fun stuff! Subscribe to hear it all!
Follow Matt on twitter at @MattBruenig. Check out some of his old posts from when he blogged over at Demos, as well as a more recent post about universal basic income which we discuss during the interview. Also, read Matt's latest piece for Jacobin about the Dow reaching 20,000, which we didn't get a chance to discuss during the episode.