Reviewing Two-Income Trap

Elizabeth Warren and her daughter Amelia wrote Two-Income Trap in 2003. It was rereleased in 2015 with a new introduction. Reading the 2015 version in the context of the 2020 election was a thought-provoking experience.

Instead of recapping the premise of the book and quoting interesting passages, I’m going to focus on what I was thinking as I finished the book. There are loads of traditional reviews of Two-Income Trap. I want to focus on what it may tell us about Elizabeth Warren and how it could predict her political actions as president.

I was aware of the new introduction before I read the book. Wanting to have a better feel for what Elizabeth and Amelia felt in 2003, I skipped the 2015 introduction until I had read the rest of the book. Finally reading the 2015 introduction, it felt out of place.

The rest of the book was moderate in some places and outright conservative in others. Several times, I found myself wondering if Elizabeth Warren really had a hand in writing Two-Income Trap.

I was surprised when the book supported school vouchers that wouldn’t be tied to where families lived. I stopped reading when the book said we couldn’t afford to help middle-class families afford homes. I kept waiting for progressive ideas to solve the health care crisis that never came.

Finally reading the introduction added to the 2015 edition, I felt like I was reading something that didn’t belong. After reading hundreds-of-pages of largely moderate proposals, I was suddenly being forced to consider the progressive agenda Warren now touts.

When I finished the book, I couldn’t help wondering if Two-Income Trap Is a predictor for how president Warren would compromise. We all know enacting truly progressive policies will be hard. Difficult choices will be needed. Priorities will have to be determined. The question, then, is how much can Elizabeth Warren be trusted to truly fight for society-changing progressive ideas when she didn’t believe in them into her fifties?

I truly hope a skilled interviewer asks Warren about the stark difference between the pragmatic Warren of 15 years earlier and the Warren who wants us to believe she is a progressive champion today. It would be fascinating to see someone hit Warren with some of Two-Income Trap’s moderate and conservative ideas during a debate. Let’s hope she is asked to account for the fact that late into adulthood Elizabeth Warren was a Republican. Into her fifties, Elizabeth Warren was a centrist. In her seventies, Elizabeth Warren wants us to believe she is a true progressive.

I have been supporting Bernie Sanders, in part, because consistency matters. After reading Two-Income Trap, I’m more committed to Sanders. If you read the book, I hope you save the new introduction for the end too. Had I read the introduction in its rightful place, I may have been hearing Warren’s current voice as I continued reading. Letting the 2003 edition stand on its own helped me get a more accurate picture of who Warren was in 2003. That picture has caused me to hope she is called to account before the GOP spins her words against her.

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