CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

Morning Brief: States Take the Lead on Renewable Energy

by Renewing America Staff Monday, April 30, 2012
Wind turbines are seen on the northshore of Oahu, Hawaii in November 2011. (Yuriko Nakao/Courtesy Reuters) Wind turbines are seen on the northshore of Oahu, Hawaii in November 2011. (Yuriko Nakao/Courtesy Reuters)

As federal funding for renewable energy dwindles with the drawdown of stimulus funds, states are increasingly taking the lead in creating incentives for renewable energy (Stateline). Budget pressures are leading states to think beyond traditional tax breaks, grants, and subsidies. Last year, Connecticut created a “clean economy bank” that leverages private capital to finance energy projects through low interest loans. Hawaii’s Senate and House have passed similar proposals, and ten other states are considering following Connecticut’s lead. Read more »

Morning Brief: U.S. Multinationals Hiring, but Mostly Overseas

by Renewing America Staff Friday, April 27, 2012
Employees stand in front of the gate to a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Chongqing municipality, China. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Employees stand in front of the gate to a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Chongqing municipality, China. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

According to the Wall Street Journal, large U.S. multinationals added new jobs faster than other U.S. firms, but 75 percent were overseas. Economists believe that companies are not shifting work out of the United States, but instead adding overseas staff to expand sales in overseas markets; 60 percent of revenue growth from 2009 to 2011 was overseas for the firms studied. “If you want to capture market share in China, you’re going to have to hire lots of locals,” said Arie Lewin of Duke University. Read more »

Morning Brief: U.S. College Attendance Falling Behind

by Renewing America Staff Thursday, April 26, 2012
A graduating Harvard student waits for the start of commencement ceremonies in 2009. (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters) A graduating Harvard student waits for the start of commencement ceremonies in 2009. (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters)

The United States continues to fall behind in college education (WSJ). Thirty years ago, over 40 percent of U.S. twenty-five to thirty-four-year-olds had a college degree, the highest proportion in the world. The U.S. percentage has not grown, but fourteen other nations have surpassed it. Economists believe this relative underinvestment in American minds will weaken growth in high-wage jobs and living standards. Read more »

Morning Brief: Chicago Infrastructure Trust Approved

by Renewing America Staff Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The Chicago Investment Trust is a signature initiative of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, seen here speaking at the 2012 winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. (Chris Kleponis/Courtesy Reuters) The Chicago Investment Trust is a signature initiative of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, seen here speaking at the 2012 winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. (Chris Kleponis/Courtesy Reuters)

Chicago’s City Council approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan for the private-public Chicago Infrastructure Trust (Chicago Tribune). The 41-7 vote by the aldermen came after a six-day delay during which Emanuel added several oversight provisions to address their concerns. Provisions included: putting an alderman on the trust’s board, requiring city bidding procedures for projects, and guaranteeing a city council vote on any projects involving Chicago assets, funds, or property. The Infrastructure Trust, and Chicago’s broad $7 billion infrastructure plan were the focus of this blog’s inaugural Policy Initiative Spotlight. Read more »

Morning Brief: Social Security Trust Fund Falling Faster

by Renewing America Staff Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Counterfeit Social Security cards that were confiscated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. (ICE Handout/Courtesy Reuters) Counterfeit Social Security cards that were confiscated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. (ICE Handout/Courtesy Reuters)

The Social Security Trust Fund projects it will exhaust all funds by 2035 (Bloomberg). This projection, which is for the overall program, is three years earlier than previous estimates. Various components of the program will deplete their trust funds earlier: 2016 for the Social Security disability program, and 2024 for Medicare. Once the shortfall between yearly funding and benefits cannot be patched with the trust fund, experts expect lawmakers will have to choose between higher taxes, reforming the programs, or diverting general federal income. Read more »

Reinventing the Sino-American Relationship

by Michael Spence Monday, April 23, 2012
A man walks past an Apple store in Pudong, the financial district of Shanghai, February 29, 2012.  (Carlos Barria / Courtesy Reuters) A man walks past an Apple store in Pudong, the financial district of Shanghai, February 29, 2012. (Carlos Barria / Courtesy Reuters)

China and the United States are in the grip of major structural changes that both dread will end the Halcyon era when China produced low-cost goods and the U.S. bought them. In particular, many fear that if these changes lead to direct competition between the two countries, only one side can win. Read more »

Morning Brief: The Third Industrial Revolution

by Renewing America Staff Monday, April 23, 2012
Chevrolet Cruze chassis at GM’s Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant in July, 2011; improved automation allows many assembly plants to produce twice as many cars per employee as only a decade or so ago. (Aaron Josefczyk/Courtesy Reuters) Chevrolet Cruze chassis at GM’s Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant in July, 2011; improved automation allows many assembly plants to produce twice as many cars per employee as only a decade or so ago. (Aaron Josefczyk/Courtesy Reuters)

The Economist has a special report this week speculating on the third industrial revolution. Experts predict advances such as improved materials, smarter digital equipment and 3D printing will accelerate the shift to mass customization and localization of production. New technologies may reduce the labor content of products allowing manufacturers to affordably produce in developed nations, but the article cautions that the factories of the future will require fewer—if better trained—workers through improved efficiency and automation. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Louisiana’s Educational Overhaul

by Edward Alden Friday, April 20, 2012
Teacher Darcy McKinnon teaches math to her seventh grade class at Samuel J. Green Charter School in New Orleans February 22, 2006.(Lee Celano/Courtesy Reuters) Teacher Darcy McKinnon teaches math to her seventh grade class at Samuel J. Green Charter School in New Orleans February 22, 2006.(Lee Celano/Courtesy Reuters)

Today’s “Policy Initiative Spotlight” focuses on the sweeping education reforms taking place in the state of Louisiana, which is fast becoming a kind of national laboratory for proponents of choice-based school reforms. Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich looks at the initiative, and what’s at stake for the larger debate over school reform. Read more »

Morning Brief: Affluence Correlates with Test Scores

by Renewing America Staff Friday, April 20, 2012
Parents and education advocates demonstrate on the steps of New York's City Hall for higher progressive taxes to close funding shortfalls in education. (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters) Parents and education advocates demonstrate on the steps of New York's City Hall for higher progressive taxes to close funding shortfalls in education. (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters)

The Brookings Institution released a report on the correlation between income inequality and school quality. Schools in more affluent areas are likely to have higher average test scores, and housing costs are 2.4 times more expensive near high-scoring public schools than low scoring ones. Communities with restrictive zoning laws—many are in the northeast—tend to have starker economic segregation and a commensurate difference in educational opportunities. Read more »

Interview: Parsing U.S. Immigration Reform

by Jonathan Masters Thursday, April 19, 2012
A border patrol vehicle observes six miles of border fencing in Douglas, Arizona, February 15, 2012. (Curt Prendergast / Courtesy Reuters)

The Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments on Arizona’s controversial immigration law, which will have a significant impact on the national debate. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been taking steps to loosen procedures for undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen relatives (PDF) while conducting broad nationwide sweeps of undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds. Read more »