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Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

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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.

A Conversation on the President’s Trade Agenda with Michael Froman

by Renewing America Staff

Yesterday, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman visited the Council on Foreign Relations to discuss President Obama’s trade agenda. In a conversation with former U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, Ambassador Froman highlighted the strategic importance of ongoing U.S. trade negotiations, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). Read more »

Toward a Progressive Tax Policy

by Renewing America Staff
Occupy Wall Street protester Federal Hall New York Stock Exchange New York A lone Occupy Wall Street protester sits in front of Federal Hall, across the street from the New York Stock Exchange, in New York (Brendan McDermid/Courtesy Reuters).

The “global wealth tax” suggested by Thomas Piketty in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a utopian-style suggestion to reconstruct the global tax structure. In a new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag suggests two more practical reforms that could make the U.S. tax system more progressive: establishing a progressive consumption tax and changing the U.S. estate tax into an inheritance tax.

Why Have Americans Stopped Moving?

by Renewing America Staff
flag for-sale sign Capitol Hill Washington A U.S. flag decorates a for-sale sign at a home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

Many state-level policymakers propose lowering income taxes to lure people from other states. In a new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag explains that income tax rates are not a major driver of interstate migration. Rather, people move to find warmer weather, cheaper housing, and, most importantly, better jobs.