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Summers to lead think-tank project on middle-class economic growth

WASHINGTON -- Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers will lead a new think-tank project aimed at spurring middle-class job growth, a key element of President Obama’s re-election platform and a focus of his second term.

The Center for American Progress, a liberal public policy think tank, announced Monday that Summers, whom the center also named a distinguished senior fellow, will co-chair the project along with David Miliband, Britain’s former foreign minister.

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“This is a moment of great opportunity but also great risk in economic policy,” Summers, Obama’s former National Economic Council director who shaped policies to help steer the country out of the recession, said in a statement. “Beyond the challenge of completing recovery from the financial crisis and recession, and assuring that federal borrowing returns to a sustainable path, policy must address deep structural changes that lie behind increased inequality and joblessness.”

Summers, former Harvard president, and Miliband will lead a yet-to-be-named advisory group to examine how a stronger middle class serves as an engine to economic growth, as opposed to the trickle-down or supply-side economics most Republicans subscribe to, said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress.

Over the next six months to a year, the group will seek long-term policy solutions by looking at how other countries, such as Germany and Brazil, have managed to reduce poverty and expand their middle class, Tanden said. It will address questions such as whether innovation produces or reduces inequality.

“The goal is to drive towards ideas that help produce middle-class jobs, expand the work force, and create access to education,” Tanden said.

Tracy Jan can be reached at tjan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeTracyJan.
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