American Enterprise Institute president Brooks’ follow-up to The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future (2010).
The author presents his argument in two parts: “Making the Moral Case for Free Enterprise” and “Applying the Moral Case for Free Enterprise.” In the first, Brooks portrays America as “an opportunity society” and uses studies of mobility between income classes to show that neither the poor nor the rich must remain as they are. This allows him to argue that U.S. income inequality is actually beneficial because “the moral rejoinder about the fairness of rewarding merit through free enterprise will carry the day.” He also defends a “minimum safety net” not as a means to increase material equality but as a way to preserve “access to basic medical care, sufficient food and basic shelter.” Brooks writes that the safety net should still be available for American citizens most in need and would include food stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income. In the second section, the author insists that the primary concern should be fixing the debt problem, which means dealing with “out of control entitlement spending.” Brooks contends that entitlements should be a basic safety net for the poor and not a source of retirement benefits for everybody. “The system should encourage people to work longer, retire later, and save more, so they can take care of themselves without resorting to the safety net,” he writes. If entitlements are cut in the way the author suggests, foreigners will invest in America and recovery will be possible. Brooks does not consider the 2008 financial crisis and its great affect on such confidence.
Another restatement of the views associated with neoconservatives, freshening up the packaging but not the substance.