Professor Warren also supported proposals to help families afford day care, but she opposed the approach that candidate Warren now advocates. Back then, she called taxpayer-funded day care a liberal “sacred cow”: “Any subsidy that benefits working parents without providing a similar benefit to single-income families pushes the stay-at-home mother and her family further down the economic ladder.”
Professor Warren supported ways to help make universities more affordable, but she opposed the sort of government subsidy proposals that candidate Warren now supports. “Are state governments supposed to write a blank check for higher education, allowing universities to increase costs with abandon?” she asked. “The more-taxes approach suffers from the same problem the more-debt approach engenders. It gives colleges more money to spend without any attempt to control their spiraling costs.”
“The Two-Income Trap” is filled with interesting and heterodox proposals. Warren supported many progressive policy ideas and many conservative ones. She wanted to eliminate the tax on savings. She opposed more government regulations on housing, because such regulations reduce the incentive to build more housing.
In that book, she harshly criticized many Republicans. She also criticized the women’s movement for being naïve about economics, and she criticized Hillary Clinton for flip-flopping on important issues for the sake of political expediency.
There are two core tensions that make the book so fascinating. Warren and Tyagi are both working women and feminists. And yet they provide case after case in which stay-at-home moms provide an important safety net for their families. Warren and Tyagi want Americans to have children, but they provide case after case in which childbearing strains family finances and leads to bankruptcy and misery.
In 2016 Warren and Tyagi wrote a new introduction to their book. It’s hard to believe this introduction was written by the same people. The 2003 book is intellectually unpredictable and alive. The new introduction is paint-by-numbers progressive boilerplate. The original book described a complex world in which people navigate trade-offs and unintended consequences often happen. The new introduction describes a comic book world, in which everything bad can be blamed on greedy bankers.
This is the problem with politics in a dogmatic age. Everything conforms to rigid ideology. Independent, evidence-based thinking? That goes out the window.