Arthur C. Brooks says that despite the heated rhetoric of the far right, the compassionate conservatism once touted by George W. Bush isn’t dead. It’s alive and well at the conservative American Enterprise Institute — AEI – where Brooks became president in 2009. Residing now at the top of the conservative pecking order in Washington, Brooks advises Republican leaders in Congress and spreads AEI’s message to a wider audience. His specialty, as Newsweek describes it, is “translating ideas from policy speak into soaring moral prose.” One of his key ideas: The endgame of free enterprise is not to preserve wealth but to create opportunity for the poor.
“Republicans could come screaming out of the gate going forward and say, ‘We’re the ones who will fight for the poor. We’re the ones who will fight for workers,'” Brooks tells Bill. “You might not agree with what we’re gonna– how we’re gonna do it, but let me tell you, you will not doubt what’s on our hearts.”
Moyers presses Brooks on why companies like Target, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart don’t pay a living wage to their employees who then have to rely on public programs to support themselves – in Walmart’s case, about $4,000 per worker. Brooks argues the market doesn’t support higher wages and agrees that the country needs public policies that make work profitable for workers.
Brooks is the author of hundreds of articles and 10 books, including his most recent, The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise.
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