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Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

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Morning Brief: Obama SOTU to Focus on Rebuilding Economy

by Jonathan Masters
January 23, 2012

Obama SOTU to Focus on Rebuilding Economy

President Obama is expected to use his State of the Union speech (FT), the last before the November presidential election, to push for what he called in a weekend address policies that “work for everyone – not just a wealthy few.” He is likely to call for increasing taxes on the wealthy as part of a deficit-reduction proposal, and will urge Congress to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance benefits for a year. Domestic manufacturing, renewable energy, and educating the workforce are also expected to be featured.

But political scientist Charles Murray, in excerpts from a new book, argues that the economic and cultural divide that has opened in the United States over the past 40 years, and the growing inequality (WSJ) between the working and upper classes, will not be resolved by government initiatives.  Growing inequity is a real problem, he says, but the solution “has nothing to do with new government programs or regulations.”

Debt and Deficits

U.S. Could Hit Debt Limit before Election

The United States could hit its debt ceiling prior to the November presidential election, based on current rates of borrowing (Reuters). In order to stave off another debt-limit hike, the U.S. Treasury would have to employ special accounting procedures.

This CFR Backgrounder provides insight into the debt-ceiling debate over the summer of 2011, including the potential costs and consequences associated with failing to extend the nation’s ability to borrow and meet its financial obligations.

Debt and deficits. America’s debt is rising at an unprecedented rate and the response will require tackling some of the thorniest issues in U.S. politics –taxes and entitlement spending. Leading experts assess the challenges in reducing U.S. debt.

Education and Human Capital

Bloomberg Emphasizes Teacher Evaluation

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said partisanship and special interests groups were hindering national education reform. Speaking at the United States Conference of Mayors, Bloomberg highlighted his plan to rigorously measure teachers’ performance in New York (NYT), and praised the Washington, D.C. public schools for instituting a merit-based pay system that rewards high-caliber teachers.

Education and human capital. An education system beset by falling student performance and a flawed immigration system threaten U.S. capacity to develop a competitive workforce. Experts spell out ways of improving education and immigration policies.

Innovation

Public Innovation Strategy Emphasizes Savings

A new report from Deloitte Touche argues that government can accomplish more of its objectives with shrinking funding. Disruptive innovation (PDF), the report says, offers an alternative path to cut costs without compromising the quality of public service. Particular opportunities for this strategy include defense, intelligence, criminal justice, and education.

Innovation. In the face of robust challenges from emerging markets such as India, Brazil, and China, the U.S. capacity to innovate could play a chief role in economic growth. Specialists on research and economic competitiveness examine how to spur innovation.

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