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Morning Brief: Why We Need an Immigration Debate

by Renewing America Staff
August 20, 2012

A woman leaves the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices in New York on August 15, 2012 (Keith Bedford/Courtesy Reuters). A woman leaves the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices in New York on August 15, 2012 (Keith Bedford/Courtesy Reuters).

With less than eighty days before the U.S. presidential election, columnist David Rohde argues that immigration is the most important issue Obama and Romney are not debating (TheAtlantic). While both candidates propose policies to address other economic issues, immigration seems to make an appearance only to placate each candidate’s supporters. As Mayor Bloomberg’s chief policy adviser put it: “I think the campaigns each want to play to their bases and are ignoring mounting evidence that shows immigration should be part of our economic policy.”

In last week’s Policy Initiative Spotlight, Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich examined the efforts of Baltimore and other cities to revive their neighborhoods with an immigration infusion.

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

International Trade and Investment

Caterpillar Strike Ends with Union Concessions

Union workers at Caterpillar’s Joliet, Illinois hydraulic plant ended a three-and-a-half-month strike with concessions on health care, pensions, and wages (WSJ).  Even with soaring profits, the firm was able to leverage workers’ fear of joblessness and production alternatives.  “We really got nothing,” said Joe Johnson, a Caterpillar employee of nineteen years.

CFR’s Edward Alden discussed the role globalization has played in allowing firms such as Caterpillar to demand greater concessions from employees, and the challenge of creating and sustaining middle-class jobs.

Rise of the Machines

Advances in computer vision and falling costs have allowed manufacturing and distribution firms to deploy low cost automation (NYT). Today’s robots are flexible and multifunctional.  Lower cost robots may improve productivity and allow some companies to bring production back to developed economies, but with fewer hands-on jobs. “The only way we are going to maintain manufacturing in the U.S. is if we have higher productivity,” said Tom Kalil, deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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

Innovation

Kickstarting a Funding Revolution

Kickstarter has used crowdfunding to support entrepreneurs, sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars (AP). Kickstarter’s “creative projects” are funded by small donations; supporters don’t get equity, but may receive a new product, or a ticket to a show. The JOBS Act—passed earlier this year—has made it legal for small investors to own a part of a new enterprise; guidelines from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are expected by the end of the year (WashPost).

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 the JOBS Act and crowdfunding.

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

Corporate Regulation and Taxation

Googling for Economic Insight

The Federal Reserve and other central banks are turning to Google search requests for information on economic health (Bloomberg Businessweek).  Analyzing what terms and keywords users search for can give some indication of how the economy is growing; a spike in searches for “unemployment benefits” likely indicates greater job losses than an uptick in requests for advice on selecting funds for a new 401(k).

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

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

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