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Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

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Morning Brief: Replacing a Bridge Over the Weekend

by Renewing America Staff
April 18, 2012

A ship-borne 300-foot crane positions itself for a Golden Gate Bridge construction project in March 2009. (Robert Galbraith/Courtesy Reuters) A ship-borne 300-foot crane positions itself for a Golden Gate Bridge construction project in March 2009. (Robert Galbraith/Courtesy Reuters)

While many bridge construction projects take months or years to complete, Massachusetts can replace a bridge in a weekend (NYT). Accelerated construction techniques include “heavy lift,” in which bridge segments are prefabricated then hoisted and dropped into place. While the article profiles the installation of a single segment, 400-ton bridge that spanned two railroad tracks, the technique can expedite larger projects and limit lane closures. A project to replace a 300-foot stretch of San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge is underway and will deploy 78 prefabricated segments, one at a time.

Scott Thomasson, the president of NewBuild Strategies and an expert on infrastructure funding, recently authored Encouraging U.S. Infrastructure Investment, a Policy Innovation Memo released by the CFR’s Renewing America initiative. Thomasson proposes new initiatives to address crumbling U.S. infrastructure.

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.

Debt and Deficits

Lobbyists Prep for a Frantic Lame Duck

Yesterday, the Morning Brief discussed how Congressional inaction on a variety of issues is frustrating business leaders. Major lobbyists on Capitol Hill expect gridlock to continue through the election, but anticipate a frantic lame-duck session (TheHill). A December 31st deadline looms for major items including budget sequestration, raising the debt ceiling, and the expiration of programs such as the Bush tax rates, the payroll tax cut, and extended unemployment benefits.

Earlier this year, CFR’s Edward Alden discussed the CBO report on the budget impact of current legislation if Congress does not act. While he states that no action would be bad policy, he suggests that Congress take the current law as a budget baseline.

Debt and deficits. Read more from experts on the challenges in reducing U.S. debt.

International Trade and Investment

Chattanooga Renaissance

The Wall Street Journal profiles the re-birth of Chattanooga, Tennessee. As the manufacturing base crumbled at the end of the 1960s, city leaders embarked on projects to revitalize the city’s economy and cultural institutions. Over the past decade, the city wooed foreign giants such as Volkswagen and the French power firm Alstom with tax breaks and grants of land, infrastructure, and training. An estimated $630 million in incentives have helped attract new business investment of over $2 billion and more than 7,500 new jobs at dozens of firms.

Success stories of rebounding local economies often provide practical, realistic lessons. CFR’s Ted Alden discussed how North Carolina is responding to the collapse of its manufacturing base.

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

Corporate Regulation and Taxation

Shareholders Rebuke Citigroup Executives’ Pay

A majority of Citigroup shareholders voted to reject the bank’s executive compensation plan (WSJ). The non-binding rejection of a board-approved compensation plan is the first experienced by a major bank. Shareholder votes on senior executive pay are mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act at least once every three years for most publicly traded companies—175 firms have held votes so far in 2012, and over 90 percent have supported managers’ plans.

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

Education and Human Capital

Teacher Evaluations Need Nuance

Education Week discusses studies on teacher assessment that found the best methods employ multiple data types such as student test scores, teacher tests, multiple classroom observations, and student feedback. Simpler methods employed by many educational departments are often unable to determine the important differences between the most and least effective educators and to provide insight into teachers who perform in the middle quartiles.

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

Steven J. Markovich holds an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

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