CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

How to Tackle the Manufacturing Skills Shortage

by Edward Alden Wednesday, February 29, 2012
A worker installs parts onto the dashboard for a new car as it moves along the assembly line at a General Motors assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio (Aaron Josefczy/Courtesy Reuters). A worker installs parts onto the dashboard for a new car as it moves along the assembly line at a General Motors assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio (Aaron Josefczy/Courtesy Reuters).

Is there a skills shortage that is hampering the still modest, but encouraging recovery of U.S. manufacturing? That is increasingly the consensus among many economists, and surveys of manufacturing employers also suggest it is a big problem. When President Obama went to Milwaukee recently to laud the uptick in manufacturing in the state, the biggest complaint he heard was the difficulties those companies face in finding properly trained new workers. Read more »

Morning Brief: Obama Establishes Trade Enforcement Agency

by Jonathan Masters Wednesday, February 29, 2012
cargo ship at sunset; trade A cargo ship cruises as the sun sets at Ala Moana beach ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Honolulu November 7, 2011. (Yuriko Nakao/Courtesy Reuters)

The Obama administration signed an executive order creating a new agency to monitor and protect U.S. interests in international trade. The newly-minted Interagency Trade Enforcement Center will be housed within the office of the U.S Trade Representative and serve as the central hub within government to coordinate matters related to the enforcement of U.S. trade rights in the international exchange of goods. Read more »

Morning Brief: Restructuring the Chinese Economy

by Jonathan Masters Tuesday, February 28, 2012
A security guard stands in front of an electrical board displaying stock information at a brokerage house in Huaibei, Anhui province January 30, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters) A security guard stands in front of an electrical board displaying stock information at a brokerage house in Huaibei, Anhui province January 30, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters)

A new report from the World Bank says China will have to make structural changes to its economy and society in order to prolong growth for the next two decades, writes Keith B. Richburg for the Washington Post. Beijing must reduce the influence of state-owned enterprises, increase competition in the financial sector, bolster innovation, and ease residency restrictions, according the report. Some analysts say reformers may use the report in preparations for a future ideological debate over the role of the state in the economy. Read more »

Free Trade and Jobs

by Edward Alden Monday, February 27, 2012
President Obama at the Master Lock plant in Milwaukee on February 15, 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). President Obama at the Master Lock plant in Milwaukee on February 15, 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

I am heading to Wisconsin tomorrow for a series of events on the topic of “Free Trade and Jobs,” organized by the Institute of World Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I will be doing a radio interview Tuesday morning with WUWM, speaking at a Rotary Club luncheon, meeting with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and then speaking in the evening at the Fireside Forum on Foreign Policy.  The timing is excellent, following President Obama’s recent visit to the resurgent Master Lock plant in Milwaukee, and the key Republican primary vote tomorrow in neighboring Michigan, another state that is highly dependent on manufacturing and heavily exposed to international trade competition. Read more »

Morning Brief: Remaking the U.S. Tax Code

by Jonathan Masters Monday, February 27, 2012

In the Financial Times, former U.S. Treasury Secretary and Director of the National Economic Council Lawrence Summers writes that 2013 is the year the U.S. tax code should undergo a major overhaul. “The Simpson-Bowles proposal for eliminating all tax expenditures and radically reducing tax rates provides an excellent starting point for discussion,” he says. Read more »

Gas, Taxes, and Roads: Present Costs and Future Benefits

by Edward Alden Friday, February 24, 2012
Gas and diesel pumps at a gas station in Carlsbad, California (Mike Blake/Courtesy Reuters). Gas and diesel pumps at a gas station in Carlsbad, California (Mike Blake/Courtesy Reuters).

In 1992, the price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States averaged $1.13; in Maryland, the state tax on that gas was 23.5 cents per gallon, roughly 20 percent of the pump price. Most other states set their taxes at similar levels, while the federal government levies its own separate tax of 18.4 cents. Almost all the funds have gone into paying for repair, maintenance, and expansion of the roads used by all those drivers paying the tax. Read more »

Morning Brief: Public Perspectives of Regulation

by Jonathan Masters Friday, February 24, 2012

A new report from the Pew Research Center finds an increase in those who believe government regulation of business “does more harm than good,” climbing from 45 percent in March 2011 to 52 percent today. However, the public views regulation in some specific areas such as food protection, the environment, and auto safety as satisfactory or in need of strengthening. Read more »

Morning Brief: Romney Presents Rival Tax Reform Plan

by Jonathan Masters Thursday, February 23, 2012

Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney announced his plans for tax reform (The Hill), including a 20 percent across-the-board reduction in individual rates and an end to capital gains taxes for most. The proposal would cut the top statutory corporate tax rate from 35 to 28 percent and establish a territorial system that exempts U.S. companies from paying taxes on income earned overseas. Read more »

Why the United States Needs a Real Corporate Tax Cut

by Edward Alden Wednesday, February 22, 2012
President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner deliver remarks about executive compensation at the White House in February 2009 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner deliver remarks about executive compensation at the White House in February 2009 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

There is no morally defensible reason for cutting corporate taxes at a time of deepening national debt that will require greater burdens for all Americans, either through higher taxes on income and consumption or lower spending on entitlements, defense, or other government programs. Unfortunately, it is a practical necessity. Read more »

Morning Brief: White House to Propose Corporate Tax Reforms

by Jonathan Masters Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Obama administration is expected to release its proposal for corporate tax reform today (NYT), including measures that would cut the top statutory rate from 35 to 28 percent, close a host of loopholes, offer preferential treatment to domestic manufacturing, and create a minimum tax on the foreign income of U.S. multinationals. Former Massachusetts governor and Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney is expected to expand on his plans for the tax code (The Hill) in Detroit on Friday. Read more »