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Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

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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.

Congress’s Job Training Overhaul: A Modest Step in the Right Direction

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden
Ironworker apprentices welding skills Wheeling West Virginia Ironworker apprentices (L-R) Ian Welshhans, Daniel Truax and Jason Taylor practice their welding skills during a class at the Ironworkers Local 549 training facility in Wheeling, West Virginia (Jason Cohn/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Robert Maxim, research associate, competitiveness and foreign policy, for the Council on Foreign Relations studies program.

Any bill that receives the support of both Ted Cruz and Harry Reid is notable in its own right. When that bill takes steps to streamline the complex web of U.S. worker training programs, it is a genuine achievement for a Congress that gridlocks on even the most mundane tasks. Read more »

How to Fill the Skills Gap: Bring Back Apprenticeships

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden
Yaun Smith, a senior, talks about his class's assembly line to make a s’more as a class project as part of the Project Lead the Way class at Bradley Tech High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Darren Hauck/Courtesy Reuters). Yaun Smith, a senior, talks about his class's assembly line to make a s’more as a class project as part of the Project Lead the Way class at Bradley Tech High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Darren Hauck/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Robert Maxim, research associate, competitiveness and foreign policy, for the Council on Foreign Relations studies program.

Manufacturing is growing in the United States, but many companies claim that they face a “skills gap.” These companies have unfilled vacancies, but say that unemployed workers and recent high school graduates do not have the technical knowledge needed to fill them. Read more »

How Obama’s NSA Reforms Could Help TTIP

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden
A mobile phone simulating a call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel next to a tablet computer showing the logo of the United Staes' National Security Agency (NSA) is seen in this multiple exposure picture illustration (Kai Pfaffenbach/Courtesy Reuters). A mobile phone simulating a call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel next to a tablet computer showing the logo of the United Staes' National Security Agency (NSA) is seen in this multiple exposure picture illustration (Kai Pfaffenbach/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Robert Maxim, research associate, competitiveness and foreign policy, for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies program.

On Friday President Obama will unveil his plan to curb the surveillance practices of the National Security Agency (NSA). When he does, he could inadvertently give a boost to the ambitious U.S.-European Union free trade negotiations. Read more »

National Security and National Unity: A Case for Compulsory Service

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden
A student from Boston College volunteers at Ellis Memorial Center (supportunitedway/Flickr). A student from Boston College volunteers at Ellis Memorial Center (supportunitedway/Flickr).

This guest post is by Curtis Valentine, a Term Member with the Council on Foreign Relations and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (South Africa 2001-2003)

The continuous debates over domestic issues like immigration, education, the economy, and healthcare reveal what most of us already know: America is divided politically and economically. The results of the 2012 presidential and congressional elections suggest that most of us live amongst like-minded individuals. The disparity in income in America is among the highest of any developed country. A program of mandatory national service could help to bridge those divides, build greater unity, while putting millions of young people to work on the growing number of domestic challenges that compromise our economic and military competitiveness around the world. Read more »

Guest Post: Ralls vs. CFIUS: What Are the Implications for Chinese Investment?

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden
Windmills at a wind farm in Palm Springs, California (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters). Windmills at a wind farm in Palm Springs, California (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters).

The following is a guest post by two of the leading experts on Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States, and on the U.S. government’s investment review process. Thilo Hanemann is Research Director at the Rhodium Group, an economic research firm based in New York, and Daniel Rosen is China Practice Leader at Rhodium and a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Read more »

Guest Post: Can the Feds Help Atlanta Rethink Its Failed Infrastructure Initiative?

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden
A highway in Atlanta (klaasjanb/flickr). A highway in Atlanta (klaasjanb/flickr).

The following is a guest post by Scott Thomasson, the president of NewBuild Strategies LLC, an energy and infrastructure consulting firm in Washington, DC.

When voters in Atlanta went to the polls at the end of July for a major transportation funding referendum, transportation watchers turned their eyes to Georgia with hopes of a positive story of local leadership after a long, frustrating year for federal transportation funding. Read more »

Guest Post: Community Colleges and America’s Skills Gap

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden
Students listen to professor Christian Agunwamba during a "Fundamentals of Algebra" class at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, Massachusetts (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters). Students listen to professor Christian Agunwamba during a "Fundamentals of Algebra" class at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, Massachusetts (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters).

The following is a guest post written by Curtis Valentine, a CFR term member and education reform advocate in Maryland. Follow him on Twitter at @curtiseveryday.

In a recent meeting of the National Governors Association, Education Secretary Arne Duncan proclaimed that “with over 2 million high skilled jobs currently unfilled [America] doesn’t have a job crisis, we have a skills crisis.” Duncan’s remarks are important in view of a recent Education Department report that only 39.3 percent of adults ages twenty-five to thirty-four held an associate, bachelors, or graduate degree in 2010. At this pace, America will never meet the goal set by President Obama for the United States to have the highest college attainment rate in the world by 2020. Read more »