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Morning Brief: Georgia Considers New Taxes to Fund Infrastructure

by Renewing America Staff
July 16, 2012

The Atlanta skyline at night (James Rintamaki/Flickr). The Atlanta skyline at night (James Rintamaki/Flickr).

When Georgia voters head to the polls on July 31, they will vote on whether to adopt an additional penny sales tax to fund infrastructure projects (Stateline). If a county enacts the new sales tax, then it will begin to fund its pre-selected projects. The vote in Atlanta will be watched closely. If passed, the measure would fund an additional $7.2 billion in projects in the Atlanta metro area.

CFR Senior Fellow and Renewing America Director Edward Alden discussed the hidden costs of our crumbling road network from congestion and traffic delays. The first Renewing America Progress Report and Infographic Scorecard assessed the current state of U.S. transportation infrastructure policy, and explained what’s needed to ensure future competitiveness.

America’s Energy Boom

The Economist describes how shale gas is driving a boom in U.S. natural gas production. The Energy Information Administration calculates a nearly hundred-year supply at current consumption. Consumption is increasing however, as the electrical grid continues to shift away from coal to natural gas, resulting in lower prices and emissions. Some analysts predict this energy boom will spark manufacturing growth, while new technologies could put it to work powering automobiles.

The transformation of the U.S. energy market created by the new extraction techniques for oil and gas has some predicting a renaissance for U.S. manufacturing based on lower, stable energy costs. Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich examined those claims and argued that the impact will likely be modest in a Policy Initiative Spotlight.

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

SEC Debates Adopting Global Accounting Rules
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a report about the costs and benefits of harmonizing U.S. accounting rules with the prevailing international standard (WSJ). The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) have already been adopted by almost 120 nations. Many multinational corporations and accounting firms favor adoption of IFRS to simplify transnational accounting. Despite an original decision deadline in 2011, the SEC is still trying to balance these efficiency gains with maintaining national sovereignty over rule-making and the interests of capital market investors who tend to favor existing rules. The IFRS governing body expressed “regret” that the SEC hasn’t more strongly embraced IFRS (WSJ).

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

Innovation

Khosla Attacks the Mercenary-Mindset
Vinod Khosla, renowned high-tech venture capitalist, gave his vision of the mindset that makes Silicon Valley the world’s greatest hotbed of innovation (NYT). “In my view, it’s irreverence, foolish confidence and naivety combined with persistence, open mindedness and a continual ability to learn that created Facebook, Google, Yahoo, eBay, Microsoft, Apple, Juniper, AOL, Sun Microsystems and others,” he says. Khosla sees signs that greed, and a focus on building a firm to be acquired, rather than for the long run, may be bringing a mercenary mindset to some firms that could sap innovation.

In the face of persistently high unemployment, policymakers and workers look to innovation and entrepreneurship, the primary engine of U.S. job growth over the past thirty years. This CFR Backgrounder by Steven J. Markovich discusses how entrepreneurs create and finance startups and the ramifications of policies such as the JOBS Act.

Helping Veterans Start a Business
Veterans of U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq currently have a higher unemployment rate than the general population, but new programs aim to change that by helping ex-soldiers launch startups (Bloomberg Businessweek). The Marine Corps is launching Operation Boots to Business at four bases to offer training in entrepreneurship. The private sector is also helping out through programs such as Patriot Boot Camp, which plans to help about seventy-five veterans launch startups.

Innovation. Read more on how the U.S. capacity to innovate could play a chief role in economic growth.

The Morning Brief is compiled by Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich.

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