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Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

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Showing posts for "Campaign 2012"

America’s Place in the World: It Depends on Where You Stand

by Edward Alden
Airline tycoon Richard Branson and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore hold a globe in central London (Kieran Doherty/Courtesy Reuters). Airline tycoon Richard Branson and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore hold a globe in central London (Kieran Doherty/Courtesy Reuters).

Are Americans becoming more isolationist? That appears to be the top-line conclusion from a fascinating new poll released this week by the Pew Research Center and my organization, the Council on Foreign Relations, called America’s Place in the World 2013. In the survey, 52 percent of Americans said that the United States should “mind its own business internationally,” the highest percentage since the question was first asked in 1964, and up from just 30 percent a decade ago. Read more »

It’s the Perfect Time to Fix Our Roads and Bridges

by Renewing America Staff

With low borrowing costs and elevated unemployment, Washington should seize the moment to invest in fixing the nation’s decaying infrastructure, writes CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag.

“First, we need to couple immediate federal spending on public assets with substantial, credible deficit-reduction measures that are scheduled to take effect later on. Such a ‘barbell’ approach to fiscal policy would require that Republicans acknowledge the value of additional stimulus while the unemployment rate is high, and that Democrats see how Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security could be preserved and strengthened through certain cost-saving measures over time,” he says. Read more »

Obama or Romney Must Govern Without a Mandate

by Edward Alden
Voters cast their ballots during the U.S. presidential election at a polling station in the Staten Island Borough of New York on November 6, 2012 (Keith Bedford/Courtesy Reuters). Voters cast their ballots during the U.S. presidential election at a polling station in the Staten Island Borough of New York on November 6, 2012 (Keith Bedford/Courtesy Reuters).

There is an idea that is dear to the hearts of every candidate that ought to be discarded, at least until the U.S. electoral map shifts dramatically from what it has been in recent years: that the victor walks away with a “mandate” for action. The reality is that presidential and congressional elections no longer produce a mandate for much of anything. The sooner we drop that notion, the sooner our elected officials can get on with the messy business of actually governing a divided country. Read more »

A U.S.-China “Trade War”: Time to Abolish a Silly Notion

by Edward Alden
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney makes a point as U.S. President Barack Obama listens during the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida on October 22, 2012 (Scott Audette/Courtesy Reuters). Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney makes a point as U.S. President Barack Obama listens during the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida on October 22, 2012 (Scott Audette/Courtesy Reuters).

I have a suggestion for everyone who writes about international trade: it is time to bury, once and for all, the concept of a “trade war.” The phrase is so ubiquitous that it will be awfully hard to abolish; I have probably been guilty myself from time to time. Indeed, it is almost a reflex that every time the United States or some other nation takes any action that restricts imports in any fashion, reporters and editorial writers jump to their keyboards to warn that a trade war is looming. But it is a canard that makes it far harder to have a sensible discussion about U.S. trade policy. Read more »

Expensive and Long U.S. Campaigns: A Competitive Disadvantage?

by Rebecca Strauss
A member of the audience yawns behind a copy of her program at the Franklin County Lincoln Day Dinner, where U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered remarks (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). A member of the audience yawns behind a copy of her program at the Franklin County Lincoln Day Dinner, where U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered remarks (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

Of the competitive disadvantages faced by the United States, its democratic system is not supposed to be one of them. Quite the opposite. The stability of the U.S. democratic process and the trusted legal system it has produced have long been a competitive advantage. It is a big reason why so many global business powerhouses are headquartered in the United States. Read more »

The First Presidential Debate: Optimism and Irony

by Edward Alden
President Barack Obama answers a question as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney listens during the first 2012 U.S. presidential debate in Denver on October 3 (Rick Wilking/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama answers a question as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney listens during the first 2012 U.S. presidential debate in Denver on October 3 (Rick Wilking/Courtesy Reuters).

It did not take long for the verdict to be reached on the first face-to-face debate of the campaign: President Obama’s performance was about as lackluster as the current state of the U.S. economy. It may not matter much to the final election outcome, but his inability to make a stronger case for his economic management highlights one of the disadvantages of incumbency  — that governing is a chastening experience. Read more »

To Build America’s Future, Compete Aggressively For Investment

by Edward Alden
The skyline of Detroit (Rebecca Cook/Courtesy Reuters). The skyline of Detroit (Rebecca Cook/Courtesy Reuters).

I will be traveling to Detroit this week to speak on a panel at the Techonomy conference, which is an annual event normally held in Arizona. It’s a gutsy decision by the organizers to shine the spotlight on a city that Techonomy founder David Kirkpatrick noted is usually considered “a gritty, depressed, financially troubled city that seems well past its glory.” The conference will highlight the transformative economic potential of modern technologies, and as Kirkpatrick writes: “If technology is the key ingredient to rejuvenating the American economy, it has to work where the problems are biggest and the task the hardest.” Read more »

PBS’s “Homeland”: A Must-Watch on Immigration Policy

by Edward Alden
Children line up to perform in a Cinco de Mayo celebration in Beardstown, Illinois (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters). Children line up to perform in a Cinco de Mayo celebration in Beardstown, Illinois (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters).

In a presidential election year, it’s almost impossible to find any balanced and nuanced analysis on an issue as volatile as immigration. So it’s tremendously refreshing to watch the new, three-hour PBS documentary series, “Homeland: Immigration in America,” which begins airing across much of the country this week. The episodes will also be available on a website created for the program, at www.explorehomeland.org. Read more »

The Washington Post and Outsourcing: Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

by Edward Alden
Workers are pictured beneath clocks displaying time zones at an outsourcing center in Bangalore (Vivek Prakash/Courtesy Reuters). Workers are pictured beneath clocks displaying time zones at an outsourcing center in Bangalore (Vivek Prakash/Courtesy Reuters).

Outsourcing is a big problem. That’s about the only thing The Washington Post got right in its front page story this morning, “Obama struggles to make headway on outsourcing,” that sadly does much to misinform about one of the most important issues confronting the U.S. economy. Read more »

Waiting for Growth: California, Wisconsin, and Scarcity Politics

by Edward Alden
Voters mark their ballots at a polling location in Burbank, California (Fred Prouser/Courtesy Reuters). Voters mark their ballots at a polling location in Burbank, California (Fred Prouser/Courtesy Reuters).

Many years ago I was attracted to the idea that advanced economies could gradually move from a relentless focus on economic growth to a “steady state” in which they would grow only slowly, if at all. It all seemed quite logical – as societies became generally wealthy, as population growth slowed,  and as non-renewable resources were further depleted, more modest rates of growth would be more sustainable and perhaps even conducive to a higher quality of life that was less focused on the next percentage point of growth. Read more »