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Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

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Showing posts for "Policy Initiative Spotlight"

Policy Initiative Spotlight: How Canada Lets Local Governments Pick Immigrants

by Steven J. Markovich
Canada flags Parliament Hill Ottawa Canadian flags line the road around Parliament Hill in Ottawa (Blair Gable/Courtesy Reuters).

Comprehensive U.S. immigration reform is dead.  More than a year after the U.S. Senate passed its reform bill, the House has not voted on comprehensive reform.  The upcoming mid-term elections will likely forestall further action—particularly after the primary defeat of House Majority leader Eric Cantor and the crisis on the Texas border. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Questioning the Wisdom of Corporate Tax Incentives

by Steven J. Markovich
The shuttered General Motors Willow Run Powertrain plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, June 2012 (Jeff Kowalsky /Courtesy Reuters). The shuttered General Motors Willow Run Powertrain plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, June 2012 (Jeff Kowalsky /Courtesy Reuters).

Many states and cities offer a variety of tax incentives (credits, exemptions, deductions) to businesses with the aim of spurring growth and job creation, but few carefully analyze the costs and benefits. Some recent research has brought the wisdom of corporate tax breaks into question, and several states are considering reforms to assess the public value of their programs. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: NYC Zoning and Competitiveness

by Jonathan Masters
View of Midtown Manhattan from the Empire State Building, New York, NY (Courtesy Flickr). View of Midtown Manhattan from the Empire State Building, New York, NY (Courtesy Flickr).

The debate over skyscrapers and their place in the American city has endured for over a century, and New York City has often led the conversation. In 1913, the Equitable Life Assurance Society unveiled its controversial proposal to build a hulking new corporate headquarters in lower Manhattan after its former Wall Street home—the “city’s first skyscraper”—dramatically burned down. Completed just two years later, the new 1.4 million square foot, 40-story neo-classical colossus blocked the sun like few other man-made structures of its day. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Adaptive Education

by Steven J. Markovich
A first grade student listens during a computer lesson in school (Courtesy Reuters). A first grade student listens during a computer lesson in school (Courtesy Reuters).

If many technology startups and established education firms have their way, the future of education will more closely resemble a one-on-one private tutor than a traditional schoolhouse classroom with a single teacher lecturing to twenty-five students seated in neatly arranged desks. These firms are developing tools for adaptive education, an approach that analyzes data in real-time to tailor a lesson to each student’s needs and strengths, to reinforce concepts not fully absorbed, and deploy techniques effective for that particular student. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: A One-Stop Welfare Shop

by Steven J. Markovich
A young, unemployed teacher works as a babysitter as she looks for a full-time position (Alessandro Bianchi/Courtesy). A young, unemployed teacher works as a babysitter as she looks for a full-time position (Alessandro Bianchi/Courtesy).

The United Kingdom is implementing a major welfare reform, replacing a constellation of social support programs with a single monthly payment, the universal credit. The amount a recipient receives will be based on income level of the prior month, with additional amounts for disability, caring responsibilities, housing costs, and children. Touted as the most significant reform since the 1940s, the universal credit went into pilot phase in April 2013, with broader rollout to run from October 2013 to October 2017. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Employing Post-9/11 Veterans

by Jonathan Masters
U.S. Marines on patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan (Courtesy USMC). U.S. Marines on patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan (Courtesy USMC).

On Monday, Memorial Day, Wal-Mart will begin fulfilling its promise to hire any recent, honorably discharged veteran that wants a job (at least part-time). The world’s largest retailer says its pledge, part of the Obama administration’s “Joining Forces” initiative, will result in the company hiring more than 100,000 vets over the next five years. “Wal-Mart is already the largest private employer of veterans — and we want to hire more,” says the company’s website. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Multiyear Budgeting

by Steven J. Markovich
President Obama's FY 2014 budget proposal is released (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters). President Obama's FY 2014 budget proposal is released (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters).

The U.S. budget process has become increasingly dysfunctional, a large factor in Standard and Poor’s downgrading the U.S. sovereign credit rating in 2011. Budgets were always passed for each fiscal year from 1977 to 1998, but in the thirteen fiscal years since, Congress has failed to adopt a budget five times, including for FY 2013. A continuing resolution—a stopgap spending measure—was passed in late March to fund discretionary programs of the federal government through the end of September, the last month of the 2013 fiscal year. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Teddy’s Big Ditch Grows Deeper

by Steven J. Markovich
A cargo ship waits to pass through the Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal (Alberto Lowe/Courtesy Reuters). A cargo ship waits to pass through the Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal (Alberto Lowe/Courtesy Reuters).

This summer, a billion-dollar project will begin to raise the road deck of the Bayonne Bridge that links Staten Island to Jersey City, and provides access to Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel. The project is not being undertaken because of safety concerns about the current bridge, but rather to allow larger container ships to pass underneath it and reach the Port of New York and New Jersey. It’s just one of several port projects in anticipation of the widening of the Panama Canal. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: The Global Squeeze on Tax Cheats

by Jonathan Masters
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 »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Social Programs Funded by Success

by Steven J. Markovich
A homeless man makes his way down the street before sunrise (Mike Blake/Courtesy Reuters). A homeless man makes his way down the street before sunrise (Mike Blake/Courtesy Reuters).

Last month Harvard’s Kennedy School and the Rockefeller Foundation announced a program to provide free technical assistance to four states and local governments pursuing social impact bonds (SIBs), one of the first efforts in the United States to scale up an innovative tool for increasing the quantity and effectiveness of social spending. In announcing the program, Jeffrey Liebman, who oversees the effort, said that “social impact bonds bring together the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in a program designed to boost social innovation and direct public dollars to programs that work.” Read more »