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Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

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Three Misconceptions About Inequality

by Renewing America Staff
worker clean Brooklyn Bridge Park New York A worker tries to clean the path at the Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York February 22, 2015 (Eduardo Munoz/Courtesy Reuters).

Explanations of why inequality is growing in the United States too often rest on three misconceptions: that capital is rising as a share of the economy, that most of the rise in wage inequality is explained by growing gaps within companies between higher and lower paid workers, and that workers are increasingly moving from one job to another. In a new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag discusses another explanation, which could help policymakers better understand and respond to this growing problem.

Scott Walker’s Risky College Experiment

by Renewing America Staff
Wisconsin Scott Walker Freedom Summit Des Moines Iowa Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, January 24, 2015 (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters).

Since 2000, the percent of state budgets devoted to higher education has fallen from 13 percent to 9.5 percent. This decline in funding has strained public university finances, reduced pay for many professors, and driven up tuition for students. In a new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag explains the factors that have led to the dramatic state university budget cuts, and discusses some ways that states can better manage their higher education budgets.

Obama Should Push to Give Workers a Stake

by Renewing America Staff
Ford workers Ford Rawsonville Ypsilanti Michigan profit sharing Ford Motor production workers assemble batteries for Ford electric and hybrid vehicles at the Ford Rawsonville Assembly Plant in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan (Rebecca Cook/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama should promote shared capitalism in his State of the Union Address. In his new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag recommends that the president make a push for policies that encourage stock-ownership plans or profit-sharing schemes for corporate employees. Shared capitalism plans have been shown to reduce turnover, improve workers’ job satisfaction, and raise their compensation. They also raise productivity, which boosts companies’ bottom lines. As concern about wage stagnation grows, shared capitalism plans are a good way to begin reversing its negative effects.

Don’t Get Too Excited About the Budget Deal

by Renewing America Staff
moon Capitol dome The moon is seen rising behind the dome of the U.S. Capitol building (Jim Bourg/Courtesy Reuters).

If Congress can pass the spending bill it has negotiated, it will succeed in avoiding another costly and embarrassing shutdown. However, as CFR Adjunct Fellow Peter Orszag explains in a new column for Bloomberg View, that doesn’t mean it’s good policy. The “CRomnibus,” as it is colloquially referred to, continues to cut discretionary spending to the bone, but Congress makes no effort to evaluate where cuts can be made without doing further damage to the economy.

A New Do-Nothing Congress

by Renewing America Staff
Obama Boehner U.S. President Barack Obama sits with Speaker of the House John Boehner during a memorial service for former Speaker Tom Foley (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

If Republicans take the Senate, will it lead to productive compromise or just more obstruction? In a new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag discusses the range of scenarios that Republican control of the Senate could produce in areas like healthcare, trade, and the federal budget.

Inequality Starts With Your Employer

by Renewing America Staff
Revision3 worker cubicle Bonnie Burton, director of social media strategy for Revision3, works at her cubicle in San Francisco, California (Noah Berger/Courtesy Reuters).

Discussions of inequality often focus on the pay gap between executives and lower-level employees. However, in a new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag highlights new research showing that variation in salaries across different companies is actually the largest driver of inequality. This finding may help explain the decline in job-related mobility among Americans. Once a worker finds a high-paying company, they are less likely to leave. This limits opportunities for workers in lower-paying companies to make a move into a higher-paying one, and therefore decreases the incentives to move across state lines to find a new job.

How to Keep America’s Roads and Bridges from Crumbling

by Renewing America Staff
Construction Tappan Zee Tarrytown New York Construction is seen under way on the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, New York May 14, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

Last week, President Obama announced an initiative to ramp up investment in the United States’s ailing infrastructure. The newly-established Transportation Investment Center is a one-stop shop at the Department of Transportation that connects state and local officials with tools to support private financing for infrastructure projects. In a new op-ed for Fortune, CFR Senior Fellow Heidi Crebo-Rediker argues that the program will help fill the ‘knowledge gap’ among state and local officials, and will facilitate greater private sector investment and more public-private partnerships, while still protecting taxpayers. Read more »

Do-Nothing Congress Is Your Fault

by Renewing America Staff
Protest Government Shutdown Congress Los Angeles California Marcia Noboa, 65, protests against the government shutdown and potential cuts to Social Security and Medicare outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, California (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters).

Conventional wisdom holds that Congress is more polarized than the American people as a whole. However, in a new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag explores evidence showing that voter preferences may have long been misread. Congressional districts that are moderate on average may not actually contain large densities of moderate voters. Instead, there may be a similar number of partisan Democrats and Republicans, with only a small moderate minority.

Immigration Reform Is Happening

by Renewing America Staff
Immigration reform Murietta refugee vigil William Bello, 16, listens to speakers at a vigil in support of refugee children and their families in Murrieta, California July 9, 2014 (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters).

In a new piece for Foreign Policy, CFR Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies Shannon O’Neil argues that, despite federal inaction, immigration reform is happening at the state and local levels. In 2013 alone, 45 of the 50 state legislatures passed over four-hundred immigration-related laws and resolutions. O’Neil notes that although a small number were bills that made life more difficult for undocumented immigrants, many others were designed to integrate them more easily into local communities. However, while this push is having real and positive effects for local economies, the wider immigration problem cannot be solved without federal action, she explains.

Born in 1988. Sorry

by Renewing America Staff
Graduating student Abel Charron hire me mortar board USC School Cinematic Arts commencement University Southern California Graduating student Abel Charron displays a "Hire me" sign written on his mortar board before USC School of Cinematic Arts commencement (Mario Anzuoni/Courtesy Reuters).

Can the year you are born dictate how much you make or how healthy you are? In a new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag explains how individuals who enter the workforce during times of high unemployment have lower wages and poorer health outcomes than those who began working in better economic conditions. Most notably, this pattern affects members of the same generation who were born only a few years apart. Over the course of a career, this can result in some workers earning up to $100,000 less than others of the same generation.