CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

How to Control the Budget Deficit? Do Nothing

by Edward Alden Tuesday, January 31, 2012
The cover of CBO's "Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022" (Courtesy Congressional Budget Office). The cover of CBO's "Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022" (Courtesy Congressional Budget Office).

What should Congress and the Obama administration do to bring the federal deficit under control? Well, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s annual Budget and Economic Outlook, released today, the answer is quite simple: absolutely nothing at all. Read more »

Morning Brief: GOP Govs to Target State Income Taxes

by Jonathan Masters Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some tax experts expect a wave of GOP governors to submit budgets that aim to curtail or abolish state income taxes (AP). Nine states already forgo a state income tax and rely on alternative revenues to pay for government services like education and infrastructure. Proponents say the reforms would appeal to both businesses and residents, and could be offset by increased economic activity, while others claim such assertions are fiscally unsound. Read more »

Morning Brief: Pushing Free Trade Policy

by Jonathan Masters Monday, January 30, 2012

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said that it has become increasingly difficult to sell Americans on the merits of free trade in the current economic climate. “Frankly, more and more Americans of all persuasions believe that we have swapped jobs for cheaper T-shirts and iPads,” said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The frank assessment comes as the World Trade Organization is still seeking to strike a global free trade deal (AFP) following ten years of stalled negotiations on the matter. Read more »

Apple, China, Labor Rights, and U.S. Workers

by Edward Alden Friday, January 27, 2012
Workers are seen inside a Foxconn factory in the southern Guangdong province of China (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters). Workers are seen inside a Foxconn factory in the southern Guangdong province of China (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters).

Reading the New York Times wrenching investigation into unsafe and inhumane working conditions in the Chinese factories that make Apple’s iPhones and iPads–and Apple’s indifference to the problem–made me recall a forgotten footnote in the recent history of U.S. trade policy. Read more »

Morning Brief: Heavy Industry Predicts U.S. Growth

by Jonathan Masters Friday, January 27, 2012

Major North American industrial firms Caterpillar and Eaton (FT) have strong expectations for market growth in the United States despite recent warnings from the IMF of a global economic slowdown. Caterpillar anticipates real U.S. construction spending to rise for the first time since 2004, while Eaton says the growth of its U.S. market will outpace the rest of the world for the first time since the mid-2000s. Read more »

Innovation In Government: A Safer and Speedier Visa System

by Edward Alden Thursday, January 26, 2012
An officer validates a visa on a student's passport (Charles Platiau/Courtesy Reuters). An officer validates a visa on a student's passport (Charles Platiau/Courtesy Reuters).

The Council on Foreign Relations has published today the first Policy Innovation Memorandum (PIM) coming out of the Renewing America initiative, “Faster, Safer, and Smarter: A Modern Visa System for the United States.” We will have several others ready to publish shortly, looking at issues such as Chinese foreign investment in the United States, foreign language education in U.S. schools, and ways to move forward on critically needed infrastructure programs. Read more »

Morning Brief: Protecting the Global Supply Chain

by Jonathan Masters Thursday, January 26, 2012

The White House announced a new strategy to protect the global supply chain of goods that are critical to U.S. national security and economic welfare. Among other things, the plan calls for improving the detection of threats (natural disasters, terrorism, piracy, etc.), building a resilient critical infrastructure, and fostering international collaboration. Read more »

Morning Brief: Washington Responsible for U.S. Worker Competitiveness

by Jonathan Masters Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Former Clinton Administration official and public policy expert Robert Reich contends that government, as protector of the public good (CSM), has a responsibility to help the American worker compete in the global economy. The private sector, he says, has an obligation to stockholders and cannot be expected to put people ahead of profit. Read more »

So What If It’s an Election Year

by Edward Alden Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Congressional Republicans listen to President Obama address a joint session of the Congress on Capitol Hill (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters). Congressional Republicans listen to President Obama address a joint session of the Congress on Capitol Hill (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters).

The conventional wisdom when I first came to Washington in the early 1990s was that nothing ever got done in a presidential election year. And then the sage advice became that nothing much got done in congressional election years either. And of course the last 18 months or so of an administration constitute a “lame duck” period, so nothing really happens then as well. And then President George W. Bush–announcing after his 2004 re-election that he had “earned political capital and I intend to spend it”–failed miserably in his signature effort to force reforms to Social Security the next year. So what’s left? The first 100 days? Read more »

Morning Brief: Obama’s SOTU To-Do List

by Jonathan Masters Tuesday, January 24, 2012

As President Obama prepares for his State of the Union tonight, eight budget and public policy experts discuss the most important objectives the president must accomplish with his address (Fiscal Times). Among several recommendations, they call for promoting job creation and the benefits of the stimulus, discussing deficit reduction and specific entitlement reforms, and taking credit for his foreign policy accomplishments. Read more »