The auto industry, agriculture, the energy sector. What do they have in common? These industries benefit from government subsidies in the form of loans, tax breaks, regulation, and other preferences. Critics from the left and right say that not only do these subsidies transfer wealth from taxpayers to corporations, they distort the markets and our economy. Proponents say that government has an important role to play in launching innovation via strategic investment, and its support helps American companies thrive. Do we need subsidies, or is this corporate welfare?
Jack Abramoff is arguably one of the world’s most famous lobbyists and former Washington power players. Dubbed on the cover of Time as the “Man Who Bought Washington”, Abramoff rose to become the nation’s most successful and prominent lobbyist, before becoming enmeshed in the most harrowing political scandal since Watergate, for which he served 43 months in federal prison. Few know more about how Washington really works. Abramoff commenced his political career in college, when he was elected national chairman of the College Republicans. He next headed President Reagan’s grassroots lobbying organization, honing the skills he would later deploy to become the nation’s top legislative advocate. Beginning in 1994, Abramoff built one of the most prestigious and profitable lobbying practices, before his name became synonymous with corruption and what’s wrong with our government. The fall from grace woke him up. Now, he’s determined to rectify his wrongs and reform our corrupt political system.
Kate Gordon is a nationally recognized expert on the intersection of clean energy and economic development. Currently she serves as Vice Chair of Climate and Sustainable Urbanization at the Paulson Institute, where she provides strategic direction on climate and energy programs in the U.S. and China. Her past affiliations include co-director of the Apollo Alliance, vice president at the Center for American Progress, and vice president at Next Generation, where she founded and led the “Risky Business Project” alongside Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson, and Tom Steyer. Gordon writes a regular subscription-based blog, Kate’s Cliffnotes, providing insights on policy and politics in California, her home state. She is also a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal as one of the paper’s “Energy Experts.” Gordon earned a JD and an MA in city planning from University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University.
Michael Lind is a co-founder of New America in Washington, D.C., where he is the policy director of its Economic Growth Program. Lind became New America’s first fellow in 1999, and he co-wrote its manifesto, The Radical Center (2001), with Ted Halstead. With Sherle Schwenninger, Lind co-founded the American Strategy Program, named after his book The American Way of Strategy (2006). A graduate of the University of Texas and Yale University, Lind has taught at Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University and has been an editor or staff writer for The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New Republic, and The National Interest. Lind is a columnist for Salon and writes frequently for The New York Times and The Financial Times. He is the author of numerous books of history, political journalism, fiction, poetry, and children’s literature. His most recent book is Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States (2012).
Zephyr Teachout is an associate law professor at Fordham Law School. She writes about political law, with a focus on corruption: her book Corruption in America (Harvard University Press) is coming out in fall 2014. She is also known for her innovative work as director of online organizing for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign, where she led the first technical team developing social media tools for supporters, many of which were used in Obama's 2008 online campaign. As the first national director of the Sunlight Foundation, she led several crowd-sourced investigative journalism projects, including a national campaign to expose the political connections behind earmarks. She is a fellow at the New America Foundation’s Markets, Enterprise, and Resiliency Initiative, working on developing frameworks to understand the role of monopolistic companies in American political ecosystem.