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Morning Brief: White House Announces Trade & Business Initiatives

by Jonathan Masters
February 21, 2012

The Obama administration elaborated on its plans for consolidating several government agencies, including the Department of Commerce and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, stipulating that any proposed restructuring must save money or cut the size of government. In addition, the White House announced the official launch of BusinessUSA.gov, a virtual “one-stop shop” for businesses navigating government agencies. The president also released a memo increasing the authority of the Export Promotion Cabinet to “align interagency efforts” in advancing international trade.

International trade and investment. Read more from leading analysts on the debate over next steps in U.S. trade policy.

Education and Human Capital

Updating “No Child Left Behind”

The White House decision to grant eleven states a waiver allowing them to avoid compliance with “No Child Left Behind” is an appropriate shift away from the law’s emphasis on punishing failing schools toward incentivizing good ones, write the editors at Bloomberg View. However, states and schools will continue to tread water until an improved version of the law can consolidate the educational improvements of the last ten years.

Education and human capital. Read more from experts discussing ways to improve U.S. education and immigration policies.

Infrastructure

Funding California High-Speed Rail

New proposals from transportation agencies in Northern and Southern California advocate spending $4 billion from a $9-billion bond fund to upgrade existing local rail tracks. If approved, the plans would represent a reduction in the project’s original, state-of-the-art vision (LATimes) that would have run the bullet train on a dedicated track its entire length.

Infrastructure. Read more on how upgrading the nation’s aging network of roads, bridges, airports, railways, and water systems is essential to maintaining U.S. competitiveness.

Corporate Regulation and Taxation

Laying the Groundwork on Tax Reform

Despite indications of bipartisan support for corporate tax reform (The Hill), tax experts claim current discussions are in the “consensus-building” phase and do not suggest a big overhaul anytime this year. Obstacles ahead include creating agreement within the business community on what it is they want, and then finding a political viable way to pay for it.

Corporate regulation and taxation. Read more from top economists and business experts on solutions for addressing corporate tax reform.

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