I first met Elizabeth Warren when she was a professor at Harvard Law School in 2004. She was fresh off the publication of her bestselling book, “The Two-Income Trap.” There was no doubt she was politically liberal — our only face-to-face meeting involved a recruitment visit at the W Hotel in Los Angeles, where she immediately made some sort of disparaging remark about Rush Limbaugh — but at the time, Warren was making waves for her iconoclastic views. She wasn’t a doctrinaire leftist, spewing Big Government nostrums. She was a creative thinker.
That creative thinking is obvious in “The Two-Income Trap,” which discusses the rising number of bankruptcies among middle-class parents, particularly women with children. The book posits that women entered the workforce figuring that by doing so, they could have double household income. But so many women entered the workforce that they actually inflated prices for basic goods like housing, thus driving debt skyward and leading to bankruptcies for two-income families. The book argued that families with one income might actually be better off, since families with two incomes spent nearly the full combined income and then fell behind if one spouse lost a job. Families with one income, by contrast, spent to the limit for one income, and if a spouse was fired, the unemployed spouse would then look for work to replace that single income.