The Institute for Education’s Media Technology Roundtable on Wednesday, April 03, 2013, was held at the Belgian Embassy Residence and featured David Leonhardt, Washington Bureau Chief of the New York Times, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, and author of the bestselling e-book “Here’s The Deal.”
His Excellency Jan Matthysen, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium and IFE Diplomatic Steward, began the evening by welcoming guests into his residence, noting that many historic discussions have occurred in the dining room.
The conversation was wide-ranging, lively and thought-provoking. Topics included the U.S. economy, renewable energy and energy independence, the future of education, and the changing field of journalism. Leonhardt addressed each of these from two angles: today and in the future. A recurring theme was Leonhardt’s suggestion, echoed in his book, of consumption versus investment – how policy actions can be taken today that have long-run gains financially and to society as a whole.
“Perhaps the single most counterproductive deficit-reduction approach the country could adopt would be reducing money for high-return investments,” Leonhard writes in “Here’s The Deal.” “It would save millions now at the expense of billions later. One of the most promising deficit-reduction strategies, strange as it may sound, involves spending more money on such investments.”
Leonhardt echoed this theme in his talk, saying, “We need to change the conversation from how much government should spend and focus on what is more important, the makeup of that spending.” For example, the United States spends on average $2.5 on those over the age of 65 for every $1 that is spent on people under the age of 18, an unusually inverse percentage when compared to other countries because of the higher cost of healthcare in the US.
A primary argument that Leonhardt made was that the United States faces much more than monetary and budgetary deficits. When compared to other nations and to history, deficits in technology access (where the market for consumer electronics is booming but the US has lower broadband speeds), transportation and infrastructure (it takes much longer to travel from New York to Atlanta than it does from Shanghai to Beijing, which are comparable distances) and educational attainment (as the cost of higher education continues to increase while other indicators, such as graduation rates for children of lower-income families falls), the US is, as Leonhardt says, “in a strange way acting older than any other country in the world, which is odd because the US sees itself as a country of the future.”
Interest in this core thesis has made “Here’s The Deal” one of the most popular and talked about, books in Washington right now. Published exclusively as an e-book (at a cost of $1.99) by the New York Times on February 6th, the book comes at a time when Congress continues to debate the nation’s budget and the President makes a renewed attempt at reaching a “grand bargain” on spending and tax revenue. Reviewing the book, Matt Yglesias of Slate wrote, “If you just want to understand the budgetary landscape on the merits, this is a great place to start.”
Attendees at the dinner included Coach Kathy Kemper, CEO and Founder, The Institute for Education; Marci Robinson, Robinson Communications and Chair, IFE Board of Stewards; Ina Ginsburg, IFE Steward; Henry Ellenbogen, T. Rowe Price and MTR Co-founder; Shane Green, Personal, Inc., MTR Co-Founder and IFE Trustee; Tom Patton, Philips Electronics NA; Alan Raul, Sidley Austin, LLP; David Fenstermaker, Raymond James & Associates; Alan Davidson, MIT; Dale LeFebvre, 35711; Josh Galper, Personal, Inc.; Catherine Bohigian, Cablevision; Denise Couture, The Diane Rehm Show; Mark Ein, Washington Kastles; John Paul Farmer, Senior Advisor, The White House; and R. David Edelman, Senior Advisor, The White House. IFE Fellows George Zaidan and Chris Golden and IFE Intern Jordan D’Eri also attended.
About our Guest: David Leonhardt is the Washington bureau chief of The New York Times. He is the author of the e-book, “Here’s the Deal: How Washington Can Solve the Deficit and Spur Growth,” published by The Times and Byliner. Previously, Mr. Leonhardt wrote the paper’s Economic Scene column, focusing on the housing bubble, the economic downturn, the budget deficit, health reform and education. In April 2011, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Mr. Leonhardt has also been a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and helped found the Economix blog. He won the Gerald Loeb Award for magazine writing in 2009 for a Times Magazine article, “Obamanomics.” In 2005, he was one of the reporters who produced “Class Matters,” the paper’s series on social class in the United States. In 2004, he founded an analytical sports column, called “Keeping Score.” He became Washington bureau chief in September 2011. Before joining The Times in 1999, he worked for Business Week magazine and The Washington Post. Mr. Leonhardt studied applied mathematics at Yale. He is a third-generation native of New York
As seen on The Colbert Report February 16, 2013: David Leonhardt discusses S&Ps defense, private bank suits and the AIG bailout.