We Are Better Than This: How the Government Should Spend Our Money is the latest book from TCF fellow Edward D. Kleinbard and discusses the longtime issue of economic inequality from both sides of the fiscal policy debate. Drawing on his experience as a tax lawyer, USC academic, and congressional aide, Kleinbard provides a comprehensive overview of how the U.S. has the highest poverty rate and worst wealth inequality among its majorly developed peer economies.

Citing sources from recent economic research, comparative data, and political science, We Are Better Than This suggests that the government ought to aim for a system that “supports higher levels of public investment and a more generous safety net.” Kleinbard offers a potential solution to putting the U.S. economy one step closer to having fairer income distribution. He says:

“The secret of funding a progressive fiscal system — one that actually has a measurable impact on inequality as it is experienced — is not through quasi-sumptuary taxation in the form of high marginal tax rates,” he writes. “Instead, the secret sauce is a tax system that is only mildly progressive, or even regressive, but that is large enough to fund government investment and social insurance programs that change lives.”

The book has received critical acclaim, highlights of which have been collated below. Follow the links below for more on Kleinbard’s We Are Better Than This.

“Kleinbard’s viewpoint is both moral and farsighted…Kleinbard’s ability to make the complexities of fiscal policy comprehensible permeates We Are Better Than This. So does his impatience, even anger, with the partisan sophistry that passes for much of fiscal and economic discussion in Washington… Kleinbard’s book presents a challenge and a reproach to the America of recent decades; it’s time the challenge was met.” – The Los Angeles Times

“Edward Kleinbard knows as much about taxation in America as anyone alive.” – Bloomberg Businessweek

“Packed with powerful data, fresh insights, unassailable analysis, and a set of recommendations that are both economically and politically viable… [A] compelling critique of market triumphalism and the economist who helped to shape it.” – The Washington Post

“An important message not just for politicians and voters but for the CEOs who frequently argue that our nutty corporate tax code is a (or the) major obstacle to economic growth and job creation in the U.S.” – Harvard Business Review

“His masterpiece on how we tax ourselves, and how Congress spends our money, explains why the mostly lightly taxed modern country feels so heavily burdened while offering workable solutions.” – Newsweek

“We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money, will not only help you separate the sense from the nonsense in America’s fiscal debate. Far more importantly, it will remind you why we need a functional federal government and the extremely high costs in terms of our economic well-being, today and tomorrow, of its absence… Moreover, though Kleinbard is a technical analyst with long experience in both the private and public sector, his heart is as big as his brain. The book has a strong moral compass and even amidst the underbrush of the national revenue and outlays tables, he consistently summons his compass to point the way back to his theme.” – The Huffington Post