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Morning Brief: House GOP to Vote on Debt Ceiling Hike

by Jonathan Masters
January 17, 2012

Debt and Deficits

House GOP to Vote on Debt Ceiling Hike

House Republicans are set to open the second session of Congress this week by voting on a resolution disapproving of the president’s proposed debt ceiling increase of $1.2 billion (Roll Call). The vote is seen as largely symbolic, and unlikely to pass both chambers.

In this report from the Congressional Research Service, Mindy R. Levit traces the historical patterns of federal debt from World War II to the present, examining how U.S. policy and the economy affect the debt outlook.

Writing for Project Syndicate, Nouriel Roubini predicts difficult economic times in the coming year due to unsustainable economic policies—temporary tax cuts and transfer payments—that will have to be curbed in order to achieve deficit reduction.

Infrastructure

CEO, Chairman of CA High-Speed Rail Project Resign

California high-speed rail (Bloomberg) hit another political snag as two of the project’s top officials, Chairman Thomas Umberg and CEO Roelof van Ark, resigned after a January 3 review panel recommended against selling bonds for the $98.5 billion project. California is the only state working to build high-speed tracks, which are planned to connect San Francisco to Los Angeles by 2033.

The Washington Post examines why the signature transportation initiative of the Obama administration now appears almost completely stalled.

In this article for the U.S. Infrastructure journal, Joseph Szabo, head of the Federal Railroad Administration, argues for the benefits of a proposed U.S. high-speed rail system.

Education and Human Capital

STEM Education Costs Questioned

Schools in Florida are facing budgetary pressures as they work to develop expensive programs dedicated to STEM education (TBTimes) focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math. Lawmakers have touted STEM as a means to boost U.S. competitiveness and spur job growth.

In December 2011, the White House released “The Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Portfolio”. The report justifies the need for STEM education and discusses implementation efforts.

International Trade and Investment

U.S. Trade Deficit Widens in November

The U.S. trade deficit (Reuters) hit its highest point in five months last November, exceeding analysts’ estimates at $47.8 billion. The news could reduce expectations for the country’s fourth quarter economic growth.

In this interview with CFR, former senator Thomas Daschle says the United States needs to revitalize trade policy and spur foreign investment in this country—both timely ingredients for a job-creating economic resurgence.

The Renewing America morning brief presents daily news and analysis on the major domestic challenges facing the United States that have significant consequences for national security and foreign policy. Topics include the debt and deficit, infrastructure, education, innovation, trade, and corporate regulation and taxes.

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