CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

To Fix U.S. Budget, Reform Medical Malpractice Law

by Renewing America Staff Thursday, February 28, 2013

The rapidly approaching budget sequester imposes too much austerity too soon, and actually makes little headway in improving the nation’s long-term fiscal picture, writes CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag.

“Far more beneficial would be to make sure that the deceleration in health costs we have been enjoying continues. This is why medical-malpractice reform, although far from a panacea, is worth trying,” he says. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: The Global Squeeze on Tax Cheats

by Jonathan Masters Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen on a building in Zurich (Michael Buholzer/Courtesy Reuters). Logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen on a building in Zurich (Michael Buholzer/Courtesy Reuters).

Midnight. A fishing trawler lurches violently in a squall off the coast of Marseille. A seemingly lifeless body is spotted adrift off the bow, and fished out of the roiling sea. No identification. No memory. Only three enigmatic clues bizarrely implanted in the man’s hip: 000-7-17-12-0-14-26. Gemeinschaft Bank. Zurich. Read more »

The Sequester: What Do Americans Want From Government?

by Edward Alden Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Glacier National Park (akalat/Flickr). Glacier National Park (akalat/Flickr).

On many sunny weekends, I go walking with my wife and kids along the Billy Goat Trail in Maryland, using the access at Carderock Recreation area in the C&O Canal National Historic Park. There is a public restroom operated by the National Park Service, an agency of the Interior Department, at the parking lot where the trail begins. It is normally open throughout the year. But when I went there last weekend, I noticed that the facility was closed, with a padlock on the door. Read more »

Debt, Deficits, and the Defense Budget

by Jonathan Masters Monday, February 25, 2013

While many analysts believe some defense cuts should be part of a comprehensive deficit reduction accord, they fear that the “meat axe” austerity scheduled to hit the Pentagon on Friday would needlessly undermine national security and the broader economy. Others say such concerns are overstated, noting that even if all the scheduled reductions at the Pentagon occur, defense spending would still fall within recent norms. Read more »

John Kerry’s Maiden Speech: Economics Trumps Everything

by Edward Alden Thursday, February 21, 2013
John Kerry delivers his first speech as U.S. Secretary of State at the University of Virginia on February 20, 2013 (U.S. Department of State/Flickr). John Kerry delivers his first speech as U.S. Secretary of State at the University of Virginia on February 20, 2013 (U.S. Department of State/Flickr).

If there was any question about whether Secretary of State John Kerry would continue Hillary Clinton’s signature “economic statecraft” initiative, it was put to rest in his very first speech. Speaking to students and faculty at Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, Kerry spent the bulk of the speech talking about U.S. economic opportunities in the world, and surprisingly little about the traditional foreign policy challenges. Read more »

The Critical Missing Education Piece: Universal Pre-K

by Rebecca Strauss Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Pre-school graduation (Paul Schultz/Flickr). Pre-school graduation (Paul Schultz/Flickr).

President Obama’s call in last week’s State of the Union address for high-quality pre-kindergarten education for all American children is long overdue.

The rest of the developed world is well ahead of the United States when it comes to universal pre-K. Just 69 percent of American four-year-olds are in any kind of program, compared to nearly all four-year-olds in most of Western Europe, Japan, and Taiwan, where pre-K is usually part of the public school systems. In other words, for some of the United States’ chief economic competitors, school starts a full year earlier. Read more »

Rebalancing the State’s Balance Sheet

by Michael Spence Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The management of Chinese state-owned insurer the People's Insurance Company of China (PICC) poses before an investor meeting (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters). The management of Chinese state-owned insurer the People's Insurance Company of China (PICC) poses before an investor meeting (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters).

Until recently, relatively little attention was paid to states’ balance sheets. Measurement and reporting were neglected. Even today, states’ liabilities receive considerable attention, while their asset sides receive significantly less.

In an earlier era, states owned substantial industrial assets. This “commanding heights of the economy” model was rejected largely because it seriously under-performed, especially when state-owned sectors were protected from competition (as was the norm). Efficiency declined. But, more important, the absence of entry and exit by firms, a key ingredient of innovation, caused dynamism to suffer and losses to grow over time. Read more »

Update on the CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force Report on U.S. Immigration Policy

by Renewing America Staff Thursday, February 14, 2013

After the failed attempt to overhaul the U.S. immigration system in 2007, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) sponsored a report by the bipartisan Independent Task Force on U.S. Immigration Policy, chaired by former governor of Florida Jeb Bush and former White House chief of staff Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, which was released in July 2009. Read more »

More College Grads Equals Faster Economic Growth

by Renewing America Staff Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Washington should be doing more to expand the ranks of college graduates, especially as the population ages and the effects of the financial crisis linger, says CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag. Over the last fifteen years, a slowdown in the rate of educational attainment has heightened inequality and hindered growth, he says. Read more »

Manufacturing: Another Look at the Skills Shortage

by Edward Alden Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Worker Derrick Williams loads material into a cutting machine at a Wrap-Tite manufacturing facility in Solon, Ohio July 13, 2012 (Aaron Josefczyk/Courtesy Reuters) Worker Derrick Williams loads material into a cutting machine at a Wrap-Tite manufacturing facility in Solon, Ohio July 13, 2012 (Aaron Josefczyk/Courtesy Reuters)

I spent a fascinating day last Thursday at meeting organized by Atlantic magazine under the title: Manufacturing’s Next Chapter. Here was the most startling piece. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in manufacturing fell from 17.1 million jobs in January 2001 to 11.9 million jobs in January 2013, a staggering decline of 5.2 million jobs. And yet the hottest topic at the meeting was the complaint that there is somehow a shortage of qualified workers holding back the expansion of manufacturing in the United States. Read more »