A terrible Washington Post article criticizes John Edwards’ anti-poverty agenda on the grounds that “Critics Say He Brings Few Fresh Ideas to Signature Issue.” Well, um, okay. But as Jared Bernstein argues, the virtue of Edwards’ plan isn’t that it’s fresh it’s that it’s a good plan. No, Edwards hasn’t uncovered the Magical New Idea To End Poverty — rather he’s assembled some old-but-not-implemented good ideas, is pushing for increased efforts on some old-and-effective ideas, etc., all in recognition of the fact that despite some difficulties the country has consistently shown itself capable of significantly reducing poverty whenever we’re really cared to try.
Recall Jon Chait’s “case against new ideas” in this context. What liberals need to do on poverty is win an election in a manner that provides some kind of plausible mandate for implementing anti-poverty policies, and then implement some good policies — not necessarily the freshest ones — and Edwards represents the best shot at that we’ve seen in decades.