a collection of postings
Board of Advisors
Hon. KatHleen SebeliuS,
Hon. CHarlene barSHefSKy,
Fmr. U.S. Trade Representative
Hon. Cory booKer,
Mayor, Newark, N.J
Hon. robin CarnaHan,
Sec. of State, Missouri
Hon. Dan GliCKman,
Fmr. Agriculture Secretary
Hon. JaCK marKell,
State Treasurer, Delaware
Hon. niCole Parra,
Member, Calif. Assembly
Hon. anDrew romanoff,
Speaker, Colorado House
Hon. roDney Slater,
Fmr. Transportation Secretary
Hon. lawrenCe H. SummerS,
Fmr. Treasury Secretary
eDwarD t. Cloonan
It’s Time for an Ideas Primary
Excerpts from a speech given by DLC Chair Harold Ford, Jr.
March 28, 2007, launching the Ideas Primary.
The New Democratic movement’s quest has been to find new means to advance these enduring values, and
new ideas to advance the credo that a young Tennessean, Andrew Jackson, gave our party and our country
when he said, “equal opportunity for all, special privilege for none.” We believe that if we want to change the
world as Democrats, as Americans, we have to change when the world changes.
From Andrew Jackson to FDR, from JFK to Bill Clinton, the great tradition of the Democratic Party has
been to recognize that new challenges demand new answers. And as FDR once said, “New conditions impose
new requirements on government and those who conduct government.” Let me tell you what it means to be
a New Democrat in the 21st Century, and what new conditions we must face together as Americans in the
years to come.
The core values of our movement are the same in many ways as they were in ’91 and ’92. We believe in equal
opportunity, not equal outcomes. We believe in responsibilities as well as rights, and in every citizen’s duty to give
their country something back. We believe America must stand strong in a dangerous world and that America can-
not be strong abroad unless opportunity and responsibility and known and strong at home.
But today, we face a host of challenges that seemed far off or unimaginable just 15 years ago: the spread of
fanaticism, the rise of India and China, the acceleration of climate change. We have different problems to
solve and old problems that demand different answers. And thanks to this administration, we face a political
climate in Washington that believes the purpose of politics is to grab and gain and accumulate power rather
than to help Americans do better. That must change and we must be at the forefront of making that change
Today, I think our country needs, and I think we would all agree needs a healthy, honest conversation and
debate about what we stand for, about the direction we’re headed, and what a better president can do. This
should be a proud and, frankly, awesome time for a debate.
In our democracy, Presidential elections are the best chance to set a new course, and indeed to set a bold
course. The horserace, the money chase, and the in-your-face can wait. Let’s turn the next year into the “ideas
To advance this cause, we will launch a new website, www.IdeasPrimary.com.
As DLC chair, I will devote my efforts to six challenges: one, keeping America safe; two, giving Americans
the tools to compete, regardless of where they live and what their parents do for a living; holding government
accountable for results; creating a hybrid economy; promoting family and values; and ending poverty for all
who work eight hours a day, if not more.
We must not forget what sets America apart as the greatest experiment in human history. Here in America, it
shouldn’t matter where you’re born or what you look like, for all of us have the same dreams, and every one
of us should have the chance to reach them—to make the most of what God gave us and give our children a
better future and a stronger country.
I say to all who want to be a part of it, we welcome you to join this “idea primary.” We welcome your ideas
and your thoughts. And we challenge our candidates for president to do the same.
Table of Contents
welcome to the ideas Primary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
NATIONAL SECURITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Security: the Key to Democratic victory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Standing up for our Citizen Soldiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius
a federal terrorism Court . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
restoring the national Guard and reserves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
fixing the Department of Homeland Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
an unconventional warfare Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Stopping the iranian nuclear Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
beyond alliances and nuke treaties, a new idea in foreign Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Tom Freedman and Richard Fritz
Democracy in the middle east . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
a third way on fiSa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Former Rep. Tim Roemer
rejoin the battle of ideas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
How to bring Down the Cost of College . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Bruce Reed and Paul Weinstein Jr.
a Democratic Consensus on trade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Rep. Gregory W. Meeks and Edward Gresser
north Carolina’s revolutionary High School reform model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Gov. Mike Easley
an american Center for Cures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Harold Ford, Jr. and Al From
a Common educational Standard—across the States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Competing in the Global economy—and winning through the Sciences . . . . . . 24
Harvesting the returns of Quality Pre-School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Karen Donahue Alden and Dr. Rahil Briggs
expanded learning time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Jennifer Davis and Chris Gabrieli
a new Deal for teaching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Protect Pensions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Frank Brosens and Stephen A. Ross
taming the budget . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
restoring the Purchasing Power of the ameriCorps educational award . . . . . . . . 31
a new federal broadband Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Save the loose Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Paul Weinstein Jr.
a new Commitment to broadband Deployment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
GOVERNMENT REFORM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
america needs a 21st Century G.i. bill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Harold Ford, Jr. and Al From
for work and Country . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
How to Pop the Deficit bubble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Cutting back on federal travel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Paul Weinstein Jr.
redistricting reform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Bruce Reed and Marc Dunkelman
the Growing threat to fair and impartial Justice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
How to reform wall Street regulation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Paul Weinstein Jr.
the targeted tax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
HYBRID ECONOMY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
building a new energy economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Gov. Bill Ritter
building Colorado’s Green economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Speaker Andrew Romanoff
Curbing Carbon from Cars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Sen. Tom Carper
High-Speed rail Solution for Chronic Sky troubles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Bruce Reed and Paul Weinstein Jr.
a Global environmental organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
Edward Gresser and Jan Mazurek
How to win the Great lakes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Shifting from “tailpipe Standards” to “CafÉ Standards” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
HELPING FAMILIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
the middle-Class flat tax. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Reed
in tennessee, a first Step in addressing Health Care Costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Gov. Phil Bredesen
universal Coverage for free: taking on the Hidden Subsidy
to employer Sponsored insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
reversing the backslide on teen births . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
expanding the family and medical leave act on its 15th anniversary . . . . . . . . . 64
expanding opportunities for working families to Save . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
extend family and medical leave . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
universal Savings accounts to Supplement Social Security. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Rep. Rahm Emanuel
building a bridge to the faith Community. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Combating teen Pregnancies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
build Health Care value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Peter Lee and Debra Ness
ENDING POVERTY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
expand the eitC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
Harold Ford, Jr.
insourcing to urban areas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
the next President Can end Child Hunger in america . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
ABOUT THE AUTHORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
By Al From
Welcome to the Ideas Primary, sponsored by the Dem-
ocratic Leadership Council (DLC), a clearinghouse of
ideas—the most important, but often least appreciated,
element of politics.
in an era of instant communications, 24-hour news but for most voters, stories about fundraising,
cycles, incessant polling and the permanent cam- endorsements, and political sniping are both
paign, america needs a permanent ideas primary—a unhelpful and discouraging. they highlight
place where new ideas and innovative approaches for just how dysfunctional washington can be—
solving our country’s ever-changing challenges will focused on everything but finding real solu-
be showcased and debated continuously. the ideas tions to the problems facing the nation.
Primary mission statement explains:
moreover, a focus on tactics rather than ideas
During the years preceding an election, the means that voters don’t get the information they
money and endorsement primaries dominate need before casting their votes. they want to know
the political echo chamber in washington. where a candidate wants to take the country.
the ideas Primary aims to refocus attention the 2008 election offers a historic opportunity
on the central challenges the country faces for Democrats—not just to hold onto Congress
and what our leaders plan to do about them. and win back the white House, but to build an
it serves as a forum—cutting through all the enduring, sustainable political and governing
political hype—for a real contest of ideas. majority in america in the progressive center of
the political spectrum.
The United States is currently engaged in a fight
against violent extremism that requires all our
strengths—military, diplomatic, and economic.
We need to expand our Armed Forces, improve our
intelligence operations, and peacefully engage foreign
countries to build allies. In the essays that follow,
13 experts offer solutions that will help to keep our
country and the world safe from these threats.
Security: the Key republicans are getting a free ride on the secu-
to DemocrAtic Victory rity issue, so it works. examples abound from
By Harold Schaitberger “swift boating” Kerry to the shameless attacks on
max Cleland’s patriotism.
Democrats like to lecture, but they seldom
learn. the sad irony is that historically, Democrats
have a stronger record on supporting and
every presidential election cycle, our candidates funding the programs that protect ameri-
and punditry boast about our double-digit poll- cans in america. from fDr battling repub-
ing advantage onh health care, creating and lican isolationists in the war against fascism,
keeping good jobs in our country, Social Secu- to Harry truman making a courageous stand
rity, education, the environment, and a host of against communism, to JfK easing the missile
other domestic issues—advantages that actually gap created during the eisenhower adminis-
increase significantly when we add the words tration, to today, where George w. bush con-
“for working people like you” after each of those tinually proposes billions more in funding an
issues. endless war in iraq while cutting homeland
we structure our messaging and campaigns on
that supposed competitive advantage. and, un- on these issues, Democrats have been the party
fortunately, the first wednesday in november, of strength.
we lick our wounds and end up asking: “what
happened?” to win, Democrats must fight back.
the answer is simple. as important as economic it’s important to say, “those wearing the uni-
and social issues are, and as much as the elector- form of this country will not be sent into battle
ate trust Democrats to be on their side on those without the body armor and equipment they
issues, the voters in that sliver in the middle— need to protect themselves.”
the ones who have been deciding national elec-
tions—are concerned about their security first. it’s important to assure voters that our military
will be second to none and that our foreign pol-
before voters focus on promises and oppor- icy will be robust and place the interests of our
tunities for the future, they worry about their national security above all else.
families’ survival in an increasingly complex and
dangerous world. yet, by and large, Democratic Domestically, we must champion law and or-
candidates don’t make it a priority to establish der policies that secure our borders and pro-
credibility on national or homeland security is- tect our cities and towns. we must be tough
sues. as a result, they are perceived as being weak on crime and demand that resources are al-
on protecting our country; and when that hap- located to keep our communities safe. Demo-
pens, Democrats lose. crats must assure voters that the federal gov-
ernment will finally have the funds needed to
the GoP concentrates on painting Democrats respond swiftly and effectively to man-made
as the little sisters of the weak, which is smart and natural disasters.
because they know the polling says they have an
advantage in that regard. until Democratic candidates break through the
security barrier, the other issues won’t matter.
but, in the absence of a Democratic message to and, as it relates to who will occupy the white
the contrary or, at least, a strong tack to bolster House, the first wednesday in november will
their own record on protecting our nation, the continue to be a very sad day.
StAnDing up For group would be selected by the national Gover-
our citizen SolDierS nors association, taking into consideration party
By Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and geographical balance, as well as seeking to
include governors of states that had been seri-
it’s been a tough year for Kansas. we started the ously impacted by disasters in the recent past.
year with a massive blizzard, which is shaping
up to be the costliest disaster in state history. as commanders-in-chief, governors have a unique
that was followed by the total destruction of responsibility to advocate for the equipment and
the town of Greensburg by a tornado and then training their Guard personnel need to do the jobs
a series of floods throughout many areas of the they have volunteered to do. each of the military
state. branches has an advocate, and as long as the na-
tional Guard is being used as part of the strategic
fortunately in each instance, the people of Kan- force overseas, a first responder for natural disasters,
sas have been able to turn to our national Guard and any attack at home, they need a voice.
for help. the men and women of the Guard
responded instantly, coming to the rescue, sup- Creating a group of governors to advocate for
porting other responders with unique capabili- the Guard would ensure the President, Con-
ties and ultimately helping to save lives. gress, and the Department of Defense are aware
of national Guard readiness and equipment is-
unfortunately, the Guard’s ability to respond to sues and how they affect the ability of the na-
disasters is being threatened, and not just in Kan- tion’s governors to respond to these natural and
sas. equipment shortages and repeated overseas manmade disasters.
deployments are taking their toll. in spite of their
tremendous tenacity to get the job done no matter this advisory group would be perfectly suited to
the situation, the Guard’s ability to quickly respond make sure that washington officials understand
to domestic emergencies and prepare for war is be- the resource, training, and equipment needs of
ing stretched dangerously thin. the Guard. they’d be able to tell Congress and
the american people about the challenges faced
to adequately fulfill both its wartime and do- by the national Guard and what we as a nation
mestic response missions, the national Guard need to do to ensure these men and women have
has traditionally received adequate financial the backing they need to defend our country and
support, proper training, necessary equipment, respond when we need them.
and strong federal advocacy. at a time when the
national Guard is being called upon more and if that fails to happen, if we as a nation continue
more, however, that once-strong federal sup- to take our national Guard for granted, then
port is nowhere to be found. one day, when disaster strikes, our calls for their
help will go unanswered.
our citizen soldiers need resolute, independent
advocates. as commanders-in-chief of the na- the cost then will likely not be measured in just
tional Guard, the nation’s governors have effec- dollars, but also in lives.
tively, but informally, been doing just this. but
governors want and deserve direct input, and
given the seriousness of the current situation, A FeDerAl terroriSm court
this advocacy role must become official. By Harvey Rishikof
that’s why Congress should formalize this pro- Since the 9/11 attacks, the united States has strug-
cess by establishing an advisory group of gover- gled to find the right way to try suspected terrorists.
nors to serve as advocates for the Guard. this Harvey rishikof, a professor of law and former chair
of the Department of national Security Strategy at openness would help give our people and our al-
the national war College in washington, D.C., lies the necessary proof that the united States is
has authored a new paper for the Progressive Policy reasserting its national identity as a champion of
institute, A Federal Terrorism Court, that proposes a human rights and due process.
new means of handling these complex cases:
“we already have specialized courts in the feder-
“modern terrorism raises myriad questions for our al system for particularly complex issues requir-
traditional institutions of government and justice: ing unique knowledge including bankruptcy,
is a terrorist action a criminal violation or a political patents, copyrights, tax, and international trade.
act? Should terrorism be prosecuted under the laws in short, we have ample precedent for a court
of armed conflict or the criminal-justice system? dedicated to vital, complicated issues requiring
is terrorism primarily a domestic or foreign issue? the development of substantive and procedural
Do international conventions govern the process of expertise.”
confinement and interrogation of terrorists? Does
it make a difference if the victims of terrorism are
combatants or non-combatants? what is the ap- reStoring the nAtionAl
propriate “due process” for different categories of guArD AnD reSerVeS
detainees, unlawful belligerents, and terrorists? By Phil Carter
“the current administration, Congress, and the the national Guard and reserves constitute
federal courts have struggled with these ques- a vital—and versatile—layer of our national
tions—and many others like them—for the last security. these volunteers historically serve a
six years. the answers they’ve come up with so dual role. they respond to domestic emergen-
far have satisfied neither the american public cies such as riots or natural disasters, but they
nor the international community. … also serve as reinforcements to our active-duty
military. it is in this latter role that the na-
“[t]errorism cases are compromising our tradi- tional Guard and reserve have seen profound
tional court structures. our current court sys- shifts in their duty and, in many cases, a se-
tem is ill equipped for the difficult task of trying rious depletion in their numbers, their readi-
quasi-international conflicts with non-state ac- ness, and their availability for stateside emer-
tors who plot, abet, and carry out attacks against gency service.
civilian targets. we need to consider new ap-
proaches that fit the challenges of our times. Phillip Carter, an iraq war veteran who has
served in the national Guard, reserve, and
“one such approach would be the establish- active-duty components of the united States
ment of a secure and specialized federal terror- army, has written a new paper for the Progressive
ism Court dedicated to these cases. the thrust Policy institute, Rebuilding America’s Reserves, in
of the idea is to have a dedicated set of federal which he explains the origins and scope of the
trial judges working with an expert bar of federal present challenge and suggests policy proposals
and military prosecutors and defense counsel-all to address it:
with high-level security clearances. Such a court
could accommodate the particular challenges of “america’s military reserves face unprecedented
prosecuting terrorism cases in a manner wholly strains. these vital components of our national
consistent with the Constitution, the common security, consisting of citizen soldierh who de-
law, and relevant statutes. this would be no ploy for crises ranging from domestic natural
sealed-off Star Chamber; trials would be open disasters to overseas combat, have been misused
to the public unless there were truly compelling and overstretched by an administration that
reasons to limit access in a particular case. Such failed to plan adequately for the wars in iraq and
afghanistan. as a result, the national Guard and footing. in the floods following Hurricane Ka-
reserve are increasingly unable to carry out their trina, the agency failed to carry out its basic duty
core missions. of protecting american lives. the department
has struggled with the massive, thankless tasks
“the overuse of these resources in iraq and af- of securing our borders, our seaports, and our
ghanistan has created a great strategic risk for the air traffic.
united States, with consequences that can be felt
from Kandahar to Kansas. Simply put, we have what to do with this behemoth? elaine Kama-
nothing left in reserve nothing with which to re- rck, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard uni-
spond abroad to threats from our enemies, and versity’s John f. Kennedy School of Government
only exhausted and ill-equipped troops at home and a former white House official who managed
for governors to call upon during state-level emer- the Clinton administration’s national Perfor-
gencies like this year’s tornadoes and wildfires. mance review, has written a new paper for the
Progressive Policy institute on strategies for re-
“more than 500,000 reservists have been mobi- forming the Department of Homeland Security.
lized and deployed to iraq and afghanistan, cost- Here are excerpts:
ing billions of dollars and resulting in depletion
of personnel, including recruitment and reten- “in november 2002, Congress passed legislation
tion problems. equipment has been taken from creating the first new Cabinet department in
reserve units and sent overseas, leaving stateside more than a decade the Department of Home-
units without the gear they need to carry out land Security (DHS). now in its fourth year,
their varied responsibilities. the department is plagued with problems and
chronic mismanagement. the next president
“every national Guard combat brigade has de- will have to take a hard look at DHS and make
ployed at least once. many specialty units, such some major structural changes if it is to fulfill its
as military police, civil affairs, and medical mission. …
units, have deployed multiple times since Sept.
11, 2001. other reserve units have been shat- “this paper proposes a redirection and redefi-
tered entirely, their members allocated to other nition of the Department of Homeland Secu-
units. if mobilized today and asked to deploy rity, with an aim toward helping DHS more
on a moment’s notice to Korea or some domes- effectively pursue its core mission: protecting
tic contingency, america’s reserves could not the american people. toward this end, the pa-
answer the call.” per makes four main recommendations:
1. focus the department on border protec-
Fixing the DepArtment tion, removing functions that do not re-
oF homelAnD Security late directly to that vital task; this would
By Elaine Kamarck include spinning off such entities as the
federal emergency management agency
the Department of Homeland Security is a (fema).
child of catastrophe, born in the stunned af-
termath of the 9/11 attacks. this massive new 2. make DHS the primary conduit for in-
agency was an amalgamation of 22 departments, tegrating and sharing homeland-security
each with its own history, its own culture, and its intelligence with state, local, and private-
own mandate. sector sources.
Predictably (and many did predict it), such an 3. in order to attract highly skilled technology
unwieldy creature has had trouble gaining its personnel to help protect the united States
from attacks on the nation’s computer net- warfare command that would oversee the army’s
works, raise the pay for cyber-security per- Special forces, whose primary mission is to work
sonnel. with local groups against terrorists or against na-
tion-states supporting terrorism. in contrast to
4. following one of the recommendations of the our conventional forces, who must maintain the
9/11 Commission, consolidate congressional ability to defeat conventional enemies and direct
oversight of DHS into one committee in the action elements, which are adept at the targeting
House of representatives and one in the Sen- and elimination of adversaries, it is their job to
ate.” specialize in working “by with and through” local
all of these recommendations entail some degree
of risk, or some significant amount of new think- although the army’s Special forces possess the
ing, on the part of powerful political entities. we right skill sets to meet the challenges of this type
can be under no illusions that the reforms that of security environment, when it comes to or-
need to occur will be easy or immediate; if they ganization and funding, they have often taken
were, they would have taken place already.” a back seat to those that specialize in capturing
or killing the enemy. the purpose of creating a
separate unconventional warfare command (or
An unconVentionAl some variation of that idea) would be to ensure
WArFAre commAnD that our next commander-in-chief has the tools
By Matthew Larkin to deal with the full spectrum of threats we face.
over the course of more than six years of conflict, understanding that a determined group of in-
we have learned the hard way that the tactics of surgents can tie down numerically superior
“shock and awe” are not going to win what many forces, that war is more than simply a matter of
are calling the long war against terrorists and ex- killing the bad guys, and that sometimes less is
tremists. the same military that quickly toppled actually more when it comes to the use of force,
the taliban and Saddam Hussein is now in the we must dedicate more to developing the skill
midst of protracted struggles against determined sets to conduct counter-insurgency operations.
adversaries that are stretching the army, some like it or not, the future is going to have more
fear, to the breaking point. of the messy fighting we’re experiencing in iraq
our next president will face the daunting task
of ensuring we don’t, in fact, break the army— Certainly, more conventional threats will re-
and that we have a military capable of winning main, but the new face of war will increasingly
not only conventional conflicts, but the variety be characterized by unconventional, low-inten-
of threats facing the u.S. around the world. this sity conflicts. to face this broad spectrum of
will require that we properly resource the parts threats, there will be continued calls to grow the
of our military that possess the unique skill sets size of the military, and the leading Democratic
to navigate the underlying security, economic, presidential candidates are rightly supporting in-
political, and security challenges in unconven- creases in the size of the military. but national
tional environments like iraq, afghanistan, and security in the 21st century has to be more than
elsewhere. just numbers.
one idea whose time may have finally come—the in light of the nature of the security threats fac-
subject of a recent book by national Defense uni- ing our nation, it is equally important that we
versity instructors, David tucker and Christopher have the right type of military. in the long strug-
J. lamb—is the creation of an unconventional gles to defeat extremists, greater emphasis must
be placed on the abilities of our Special forces. mutual assistance pact has likewise bound Syria
our conventional forces will never be able to go and the long arm of tehran reaches far into iraq,
back to a time where they don’t have to worry lebanon, Palestine, and afghanistan. Skyrocket-
about unconventional tactics, but to the extent ing oil prices added the rest of what was needed
possible, wouldn’t it be better to save our regular for the mullahs to consolidate their power.
army for the conventional threats we will cer-
tainly face? Previously levied sanctions from the united na-
tions had not been taken with sustainable im-
pressing the power holders in tehran. as long as
Stopping the irAniAn they manage to pit China and russia against the
nucleAr progrAm united States and conduct business vigorously
By Ralf Fuecks with european countries such as Germany and
italy, they will be able to advance their nuclear
Shortly after the national intelligence Council program without hindrance. then, it is only a
released their report, “iran: nuclear intentions matter of time and determination before they
and Capabilities” last December, a sigh of relief actually build the bomb.
passed over europe: with the appraisal that the
country had frozen its nuclear weapons program that, however, would have dramatic conse-
at the end of 2003, the option of a united States quences far beyond the region itself. already
military strike against iran during the remainder now it is clear that egypt and Saudi arabia will
of President bush’s term in office seemed no lon- not come to terms with the nuclear-backed
ger an issue. one can read the report as a sort of dominance of iran. the same goes for turkey.
preemptive strike against the hawks in the bush there, the following rhetoric can be heard: if
administration, one which would deny them iran becomes armed with nuclear weapons,
any form of legitimization for a renewed politi- turkey will either join the european union or
cal and military adventure—revenge for their in- become a nuclear power itself. a nuclear arms
strumental role in the run-up to the iraqi war. race in this unstable and conflict-laden region
equates to playing with fire. last but not least,
So far, so good. it would, however, be a mistake an atomic bomb in the hands of an extremist
to now sit back and relax. becoming a nuclear regime, which propagates the obliteration of
power requires three elements: nuclear mate- the Jewish state, would prove an incalculable
rial, a carrier system with which to transport the risk for israel.
deadly cargo, and the capability to build nuclear
warheads. if the united States national intelli- the american national intelligence Council
gence Council calculated correctly, iran has only assumes that a cost-benefit calculation drives
put the latter on ice—and namely in reaction to nuclear policy in tehran rather than an uncon-
the triumphant advance of the american army ditional reach for the bomb, “in disregard of
in iraq. as for the other two elements—uranium political, economic and military costs.” He who
enrichment and the construction of mid-range wishes to avoid the fatal alternative: “to bomb
missiles—iran has continued to pursue them or to accept”, must therefore focus on a com-
with diligence. in the meantime, power relations bination of overtures and pressure when deal-
in the gulf have dramatically been transformed ing with iran. until now, both have only been
in favor of iran. the uS is up to its neck in the pursued half-heartedly. in order for a chance to
quagmire of iraq while tehran is taking on the exist at a diplomatic solution, the united States
role as the dominant regional power. China must look beyond her shadow and offer tehran
bought itself into iranian oil production with direct negotiations for a political arrangement.
multi-billion dollar investments and delivers, this includes strict international control of the
as does russia, modern military technology. a iranian nuclear program as well as relinquishing
production of weapons-grade material, a mutual this is the right time to make an imaginative and
rejection of force, and an offer of security—po- dramatic commitment—every child in the world
litical and energy cooperation. in the course of should have enough to eat and get an education.
such negotiations, iran’s actual motives and goals it’s a commitment the united States could lead
will become apparent. the support of the inter- and support, just as it did the marshall plan. if
national community for hard sanctions against we were to lead a new, ambitious effort to enable
iran can only be won along this path, in the case every child have at least one meal a day, it would
that the regime ultimately withdraws itself from not only remind the world of america’s commit-
a diplomatic agreement. ment to the well-being of others, but it could
change the future and politics of the developing
BeyonD AlliAnceS AnD
nuKe treAtieS, A neW iDeA the scope of the problem is huge. today an esti-
in Foreign policy mated 300 million children in developing nations
By Tom Freedman and Richard Fritz are chronically hungry. more than one-third of
these children, approximately 120 million, do
Debate over the future of uS foreign policy tends not attend school. most of them, 60 percent, are
to break down along standard lines: the merits of young girls. in too many countries fathers see
alliances, use of force, and the proper means to no reason to send their daughters to school. the
respond to nuclear proliferation. but lost among problems of young, uneducated women, some
these arguments—and how to apply them in of whom marry as early as age 11, are sadly pre-
places like north Korea and iran—is the need dictable. a terrible cycle of poor health, power-
for new approaches that could reshuffle the world lessness, and poverty too often affect generation
deck. the country urgently needs ideas that can after generation.
lead to real change in conditions.
a better education is crucial. Girls who go to
after wwii the marshall Plan achieved real re- school marry later and have fewer children.
sults and strengthened our position for the Cold better educated and mature mothers are better
war. now there needs to be a new competition equipped to care for their children, have higher
of ideas. we’d suggest radically expanding one incomes, and raise healthier families. the link
policy we know well that germinated six years between education and economic success is clear.
ago, but has not been fully exploited. in countries with an adult literacy rate of about
40 percent, GnP per capita averaged $210; in
we left the Clinton white House six years ago those countries with at least 80 percent literacy
proud of the work we did encouraging the distri- rates, GnP per capita is $1,000 and above.
bution of food to needy people. every adminis-
tration is able to help millions of poor and hungry investments in education, especially for young
people—but everyone also knows the real limits women, lead not to just higher incomes and
of direct aid. it may not encourage local economic healthier families, but lower birth rates and de-
development, and in some cases can stifle it. one layed child bearing—all of which contribute to
program we worked on was different. economic growth and stability. when people
have hope that their lives and the lives of their
the Global food for education initiative children will improve, they have a larger stake in
(Gfei) offered food to poor children in devel- political and economic stability.
oping countries who otherwise would have little
or nothing to eat. and it encouraged parents to the global school lunch program already has
send their children—mostly girls—to school, bi-partisan backing—originated by President
with powerful results. Clinton and supported by Senators robert Dole
and George mcGovern. the Gfei program is difficult one: reclaiming democracy promotion
unique in that students and families must ac- as our own, in a way that upholds the best of
tively participate in educational advancement in our ideals, and, at the same time, appreciates
order for the child to receive food benefits. in the very real limits of power and idealism. first,
addition, the nations in which the school-feed- the rationale; beyond the moral component, de-
ing program operates must commit to universal mocracy promotion is the only way to protect
education: both boys and girls must be able to the homeland and secure our long-term national
attend school. the recipient country must com- interests.
mit to educational goals and agree to take over
the u.S.-funded school-feeding program after a in this post, though, i’d like to focus on the
few years and thus assure the benefits will con- “how” of promoting democracy. Here, i will
tinue into the future. outline two policy ideas which, if implemented,
could animate an effective post-bush approach
the cost of a global commitment is reasonable to supporting democratic reform in the world’s
given its potential for good. in the first year we most undemocratic region.
worked on the program, $300 million a Gfei
pilot program provided 9 million children in the Aid conditionality: Despite their assertions to the
developing world the assurance of at least one contrary, the bush administration has continued
meal a day in a school setting. expanding the the longstanding american tradition of coddling
program adds up to real money, and a potential friendly middle eastern autocracies. in fact, the
real bargain. for less than $4 billion we could habit has gotten even worse. Since 9/11, aid to
likely feed every child and get them into school. countries like Jordan and morocco has actually
increased. after a brief window of u.S. pressure
fifty years ago, facing the threat of Soviet expan- in early 2005 (which fueled the now-aborted
sion and a few years removed from the blood “arab spring”), arab autocrats have since re-as-
shed of wwii, Harry truman pushed through a serted their grip on power. in several countries,
remarkable idea that sparked a european resur- the secular and islamist opposition are struggling
gence the marshall Plan. let’s hope a presiden- in the face of an intensifying crackdown.
tial candidate this election cycle will look beyond
traditional ideas of foreign policy options and these regimes may be “allies,” but that shouldn’t
offer a new approach for how america can once mean they get a blank check to jail and torture
again promote growth, stability, and change the anyone who disagrees with them. egypt receives
world for the better. close to $2 billion in u.S. aid each year. Jordan
gets more than $500 million. Just last month, the
u.S. signed a multi-year $700 million aid package
DemocrAcy in with morocco. while there are some economic
the miDDle eASt benchmarks, the aid comes with no substantive
By Shadi Hamid requirements on democratic reform. in other
words, no matter what these regimes do politi-
thanks to the bush administration, the left cally, they’ll still get the aid. Perhaps, the most
views any talk of “democracy promotion” with egregious example of this is the impending $20
growing suspicion. this is one of the tragic con- billion arms deal with Saudi arabia, easily one of
sequences of the iraq war and the incessant bel- the most undemocratic countries in the world.
ligerence of an administration that has tainted
everything it has touched in the middle east. in in 2009, a Democratic administration must re-
response—and in disillusion—progressives have pudiate these policies and state clearly that any
abandoned one of the core tenets of liberal in- aid will come with a set of clear (but reasonable)
ternationalism. the task ahead of us, then, is a conditions. in order to receive american fund-
ing, we will ask that the countries in question none of these groups have armed wings, all have
meet a set of pre-established markers, including explicitly renounced violence, and many hold
ensuring the right to form political parties, pro- large numbers of seats in their respective parlia-
tecting judicial independence, and guaranteeing ments. moreover, through their vast network of
civil liberties and due process for dissidents. mosques, schools, foundations, and hospitals,
these groups provide an important socio-politi-
Congress has, in recent years, taken a more ac- cal outlet to disaffected youth—who might oth-
tive role in highlighting the importance of aid erwise be susceptible to the lure of terrorism—to
conditionality. but the bush administration, and channel their frustrations peacefully.
particularly the State Department, has done all
it can to persuade republican lawmakers to op- State unequivocally that America respects demo-
pose any potential aid cuts. a new Democratic cratic outcomes. in very clear terms, the united
administration must distinguish itself and lead States needs to tell the middle east that it is not
the way on elevating democratic reform as a cen- opposed to islamist parties coming to power
tral component of our bilateral relations with through free elections, under the condition that
middle eastern allies—not just in rhetoric, but the groups in question have explicitly commit-
in practice as well. ted themselves to non-violence and respecting
the democratic process.
Engaging Political Islam: the fear that islamist
parties will come to power through free elections Engage with moderate Islamists. islamist groups
has been, for too long, a major stumbling block will likely win elections and come to power
for u.S. policymakers. they may want democ- whether we like it or not. unless we think
racy, but not necessarily its outcomes. this policy autocracy is a permanent solution, then we
dilemma has paralyzed us ever since 1991, when should begin preparing for this eventuality. in-
the u.S. tacitly supported a military coup in alge- stead of being caught by surprise, it is better
ria, after the islamic Salvation front won a com- for us to build meaningful relationships with
manding majority in parliamentary elections. we these groups before they come to power, rather
can’t have it both ways. if we are in fact serious than afterwards when it is too late. Such rela-
about middle east democracy, then we must ac- tionships will yield leverage that, in turn, can
cept that it will come with an islamist flavor. if be used to ensure that islamists, once in power,
we’re not willing to accept this, then we should will respect our vital security interests, includ-
call it a day and remove ourselves from the busi- ing a secure israel, a stable iraq, and a non-nu-
ness of pretending that we care about supporting clear iran.
human rights and freedom abroad. a Democratic
administration must do the following:
A thirD WAy on FiSA
Distinguish between nonviolent and violent Isla- By Former Congressman Tim Roemer
mists. too often, the many varieties of islamists
are lumped together and viewed as a monolithic over the course of the next few months, Con-
group of irrational, dangerous fanatics. in reality, gress and the executive branch will reexamine
however, there are significant and growing gaps the balance between fundamental civil liberties
between violent organizations—such as al Qae- and our need to defeat terrorist plots. bottom
da and its jihadist offshoots—and mainstream line: we must expand our surveillance capabili-
groups that peacefully participate in the political ties and, at the same time, provide an equal mea-
process. the latter category includes the muslim sure of effective oversight.
brotherhood in egypt, the islamic action front
in Jordan, the aK Party in turkey, and the is- last month, President bush pressured Congress
lamic Constitutionalist movement in Kuwait. to pass the Protect america act, a bill that strips
the foreign intelligence Surveillance Court of Second, Congress and the President must
much of its independent oversight regarding strengthen the Privacy and Civil liberties
wiretaps. also last month, the wall Street Jour- oversight board. to date, the board has been a
nal reported that, on october 1, the Depart- testament to the inadequacy of self-oversight.
ment of Homeland Security will gain access to its weaknesses have prompted the resignation
our intelligence spycraft for use against domes- of one Democratic board member, and its re-
tic targets. ports, edited by the white House, reflected
only a narrow range of concerns. Congress
these two actions increase executive branch must now demand the creation of a minority
power while reducing executive branch account- party vice-chair and must grant it independent
ability. that is the wrong formula for america, subpoena power. the president must then ap-
and it goes against the principle of checks and point credible leaders such as former attorneys
balances enshrined in our Constitution. when general and fbi directors to ensure expertise
we give the executive more powerful tools, we and independence. Subsequently, the Senate
need to give the legislative and Judicial branch- will need to diligently perform its role of “ad-
es an equal measure of oversight. more power vise and consent,” ensuring the confirmation
requires more accountability. of strong leaders.
the administration pushed the Protect america finally, Congress must continue to improve its
act by claiming that it would strengthen the own oversight and investigative role. in creat-
intelligence community’s ability to collect in- ing the Directorate of national intelligence,
formation on terrorists and foreign intelligence Congress recognized the value of centralizing
suspects. indeed, the old fiSa law, written in authority within the intelligence Community.
1978 before the era of cell phones and fiber op- yet when it comes to strengthening its own
tics, did not anticipate the technology of the oversight, Congress has been content to remain
21st century. Clearly some fiSa reform is nec- divided, with at least four committees having ju-
essary. technology changed in profound ways risdiction. last winter’s creation of a House ap-
since fiSa was first written, and new fiSa rules propriations-based Select intelligence oversight
must reflect this. Panel was a good step. but now Congress should
go further and create either a joint House-Senate
what has not changed since 1978, and should intelligence Committee or grant the existing in-
not change now, is the principle that fiSa telligence committees the authority to appropri-
was grounded on that great power needs to ate funds.
be properly balanced between the branches of
government. if we do not act soon, we will have to wait until
2009 to strike the delicate balance between our
based on this core principle, i make the follow- imperative to stop terrorism and our responsibil-
ing recommendations: ity to protect civil liberties. with al Qaeda op-
erating at near pre-9/11 capacity, that’s too long
first, Congress should immediately restore the to wait.
role of foreign intelligence Surveillance judges.
the Protect america act relegated fiSa judges
to vague, post-facto duties. the administration’s rejoin the BAttle oF iDeAS
argument that allowing fiSa judges to exercise By Will Marshall
their traditional review encumbers our intelli-
gence agencies is feeble. a fiSa court review can Come what may in iraq, the next president’s top
be conducted very quickly and was, in fact, able priority will be regaining the moral and ideo-
to do just that. logical initiative against islamist extremism. in
the crucial battle of ideas, President George w. ideological militancy and war. radical islam has
bush’s inept handling of present conflicts has arisen here in response to a tangle of pathologies,
given radical islam a second wind and thrown including unpopular governments whose com-
america on the defensive. in fact, the president’s petence is confined to repression; stagnant, com-
mistakes in iraq and elsewhere have resulted in mand economies; sectarian and tribal divisions;
a bizarre moral inversion: only six years after and anger over what many see as the muslim
losing nearly 3,000 people in a single morning world’s humiliating weakness.
to jihadist terrorism, america is now widely re-
garded not as a principled champion of human amid the mounting turmoil, it should be obvi-
rights and democracy, nor even as a nation sen- ous even to the most doctrinaire realist that the
sibly acting in its own self-defense, but rather as united States cannot simply return to its 60-year
an occupier and aggressor. policy of supporting “moderate” autocracies in
the name of stability. Corrupt and oppressive,
our inability to stabilize iraq feeds this im- haunted by the failures of socialism and arab na-
pression, but so does the way bush frames the tionalism, and seemingly impervious to reform,
broader conflict against jihadism. for too many the middle east’s post-colonial order is breaking
muslims, his “war on terror” has morphed into down. it makes no strategic sense for the united
a war on islam. the administration’s excessively States to prop up this rotten status quo; on the
martial policies and rhetoric play into the hands contrary, such a course would only reinforce a
of osama bin laden, who invokes the specter of jihadist narrative that has america talking de-
a new crusade against islam to radicalize muslim mocracy while practicing imperialism. besides,
opinion. washington can’t have it both ways. we can’t
defeat jihadist terrorism by embracing the very
to counter the islamist surge, we need a more regimes whose mis-governance, corruption, and
precise definition of the conflict. as reza aslan, outward deflection of extremist energies feed it.
a scholar of politics and religion in the middle our security now depends, as never before, on
east, argues, “the united States has not so change in the middle east.
much launched a war against islamic terrorism
as joined a war already in progress.” this is a with this paradigmatic shift in mind, our next
struggle for islam’s soul, and therefore not one president must do three things to put america
that america can “win.” on one side are Salafi back on the ideological offensive against radical
zealots who promise to restore islam’s glory by islam: first, rebuild america’s moral credibility,
violently purging muslim societies of modern which will drain the jihadist narrative of much
ideas and erasing all boundaries between politics of its potency. Second, support muslim reform-
and religion. on the other is a muslim main- ers who reject intimidation and violence. third,
stream striving peacefully to reconcile islam and marginalize islamist extremists by stigmatizing
modernity. unfolding amid a general revival of their ideas and their methods.
islamic fervor and identity, this contest is mainly
for muslims to decide. yet america cannot safely we should start by putting our own house in
disengage from the conflict. on the contrary, our order. that means unequivocally banning tor-
country (and europe too) has an enormous stake ture, closing the prison at Guantanamo bay, and
in the outcome. in the wake of the iraq debacle, junking the “Cheney Doctrine,” which holds
we need a new strategy for tipping the scales to- that u.S. presidents can make up their own rules
ward muslim moderates and modernizers. for detaining, interrogating, and trying terrorist
suspects without regard to domestic or interna-
Stretching from morocco to Pakistan, the great- tional law. these policies, by belying america’s
er middle east is to the early 21st century what reputation as a liberal champion of the rule of
europe was to the 20th: the world’s crucible of law, make us weaker, not stronger. they have
handed our enemies a propaganda windfall and Helping muslims build more responsive and ac-
made it harder to win our friends’ cooperation countable political institutions is another way
on counterterrorism. by realigning u.S. security to undercut the allure of jihadist insurrection.
policy and our liberal values, we can gradually unfortunately, bush has set back the cause of
rebuild trust in american leadership and shift middle east democracy by conflating it with the
the moral onus in this conflict where it belongs– iraq war. and recent electoral gains by islamists
to the devotees of a jihadist death cult who mur- in iran, lebanon, and especially the Palestinian
der innocents in islam’s name. territories have fed fears that democracy may be
spreading extremism instead of curbing it. but
Second, washington should use the neglected as Shadi Hamid of the Project on middle east
tools of american statecraft, especially eco- Democracy has argued in these pages [“Parting
nomic strength and public diplomacy, to back the veil,” issue #5], the united States should
muslim moderates struggling to modernize not rule out the possibility of finding allies for
their societies. as the arab u.n. Development political reform in mainstream islamist parties,
report of 2005 makes amply clear, the muslim like egypt’s muslim brotherhood, that have re-
world’s lagging economic development is an nounced violence. while such parties are rarely
incubator of extremism. once the great cross- paragons of liberalism, they are challenging re-
roads of trade connecting europe and the ori- gimes widely seen as corrupt and unjust. they
ent, the arab world is now a conspicuous out- are also anathema to al Qaeda, which consid-
lier in the global economy. as the Progressive ers democracy a form of idolatry punishable by
Policy institute’s ed Gresser has documented, death. backing the islamic parties’ right to com-
its share of world trade and investment plum- pete for power could align america with popular
meted 75 percent between 1980 and 2000, aspirations and open space for genuine political
even as its population has nearly doubled. the competition and pluralism.
entire region attracts about as much foreign
direct investment each year as Sweden. it’s the next president must also revive america’s
easier to reject modernity if you enjoy few of moribund institutions for public diplomacy.
its benefits, so a new u.S. strategy should use washington spends upwards of $400 billion each
our economic power to help muslims improve year on the military but a paltry $1.5 billion on
their economic prospects. public diplomacy. this is no way to win a battle
of ideas. How can we counter the arguments of
that’s why we need a large-scale, middle east islamist extremists when, according to a 2005
Prosperity Plan aimed at opening the region’s study of public diplomacy, the State Department
economies, lowering barriers to trade and in- had only five arabic speakers capable of appear-
vestment, and integrating the middle east into ing on arab television? beyond ramping up at-
global markets. this would not be just a massive tendance at language schools, we also should
infusion of aid, but a strong push to stimulate recruit a corps of muslim-american volunteers
trade and investment and break the arab and to tell america’s story around the muslim world.
muslim heartland out of its economic isolation. a landmark poll by the Pew research Center
Granted, economic growth and development found that u.S. muslims are well-assimilated,
won’t magically “cure” extremism. but spreading on average well-educated and prosperous, and
the tangible benefits of prosperity to the middle satisfied with the way their lives are going. they
east can help the west deepen ties of mutual are, in short, uniquely qualified to testify to the
interest in the region, temper the perceived in- essential compatibility between islamic faith and
justice of economic globalization, and open new culture and liberal democracy. america needs
avenues of opportunity to aimless young men these credible interlocutors who can debate,
who otherwise might be tempted to sign up for challenge, and reason with muslims—preferably
global jihad. in their own language.
finally, given america’s diminished moral stature in bar on u.S. participation in the international Crimi-
the muslim world, we should work with europe and nal Court and ask that body to indict al Qaeda and
other great powers to marshal the legitimating force other terrorist leaders for crimes against humanity.
of international agreements and institutions to stig-
matize terrorism. for example, we should push for a the civil war raging today within islam is not
new international anti-terrorism treaty that outlaws ours to win or lose. but america can help to tip
all acts of violence against noncombatants—with no history’s scales by standing alongside those who
exceptions for “resistance” to occupation. the next are willing to take a stand against fanaticism and
president should lift the administration’s pigheaded terror.
All Americans are entitled to an equal opportunity
for success. To reach this goal, the government must
blend solid economics with a meaningful concern
for the disadvantaged. In the following essays,
18 experts discuss how infrastructure development,
progressive taxation, education reform, and
investment-led private sector growth can remove
barriers to the American Dream.
hoW to Bring DoWn a DlC project chaired by Senator Hillary
the coSt oF college rodham Clinton (D-n.y.) last year, pro-
By Bruce Reed and Paul Weinstein Jr. posed to provide states with $150 billion
to increase graduation rates and reduce
when we were in college 25 years ago, the aver- the cost of college. Called the american
age cost of tuition at a private school was $6,166 Dream Grant, the proposal would give
per year. unfortunately, a lot has changed since money to states based on the number of
then. students who attend and graduate from
two- and four-year colleges, universities,
today, the cost to attend a private college or and community colleges. but in return
university is around $26,000 (a 323 percent in- for receiving those federal dollars, states
crease), while a year at a state school will run you would have to (1) agree to maintain their
just under $10,000, a 270 percent increase.1 current spending on higher education, (2)
hold tuition increases to the overall rate of
the result? the typical student now graduates inflation or less, and (3) invest the federal
with a $20,000 mountain of debt. Growing dollars in making college more affordable
numbers of college grads walk away from com- and increasing the number of graduates.
mencement ceremonies with a diploma in one the american Dream Grant would pro-
hand and a $100,000 i.o.u. in their wallet. vide states an average of roughly $2,000
per student, which—in combination with
for that kind of money, they could have bought the new $3,000 college tax credit also out-
a maserati. lined in the american Dream initiative—
would make tuition nearly free at the typi-
fortunately, a college degree is still a better in- cal four-year public college.
vestment than a maserati. over the past three
decades, virtually all economic and income • First Year of College in High School. more
gains in the united States have gone to college and more students are taking advanced
graduates. today, a college graduate earns nearly Placement (aP) courses. these courses al-
twice as much as a high school graduate—an ex- low students to get college credit for many
tra $20,000 per year. for today’s 22-year-old, a first- year subjects. but too many students,
college degree will mean a million-dollar bonus particularly those in small, isolated, and
over the course of their working lifetime. that’s high-poverty schools, don’t have access to
why it is vital to ensure that anyone who has the aP courses. we propose making aP courses
grades to make it into college can afford to en- universally available (using distance-learning
roll. technology if necessary) so students would
have the opportunity to complete their first
one way to increase affordability is to provide year or first semester of college before ma-
more financial aid. but just increasing aid isn’t triculating. this could help save students
enough to solve this problem. College costs are tens of thousands of dollars—minus the $83
rising faster than inflation—meaning a significant exam fee for each aP course.
amount of each new dollar of tuition assistance
financed by the american taxpayer is lost to sky- • A Better Ranking System. as Kevin Carey of
rocketing college costs. that’s why any expansion education Sector notes, the current system of
of college aid needs to be accompanied by a com- ranking undergraduate institutions is “deeply
mitment to rein in the rising cost of tuition. flawed.” rather than “focusing on how well
colleges and universities educate their stu-
• Incentives to hold tuition in line with in- dents and how well they prepare them to be
flation. the american Dream initiative, successful after college,” rankings conducted
by U.S. News and World Report and others A DemocrAtic
such as Barron’s and the Princeton Review, are conSenSuS on trADe
based mainly on name recognition, wealth, By Rep. Gregory W. Meeks and Edward Gresser
and exclusivity. we believe it’s time to em-
power students and their families with the Can Democrats agree on trade?
information they need to choose the right
school: information that focuses on results, our party has been divided on the topic for 40
good academics, and a price—rather than years, often bitterly. but last november’s vote
reputation. that’s why we propose that the on a free-trade agreement with Peru shows
Department of education create a website that consensus may not be out of reach. the
that would survey all colleges and universities agreement’s labor and environmental claus-
for the following information: es—which maintain a careful balancing act
masterminded by u.S. rep. Charles rangel,
• the number of students who graduate in (D-n.y.), and Sander levin, (D-mich.)—
four years or less, and the number of stu- meet the long-held demands of many trade
dents who take longer, as well as the addi- skeptics, even while preserving traditional
tional cost per student of taking longer. goals of growth through open markets and
better relations with foreign partners.
• Sat, aCt, achievement test scores for all
students the u.S.-Peruvian agreement should serve as the
foundation for Democratic consensus on the chal-
• the number of students who go on to grad- lenge of globalization. overseas competition often
uate school (including which institutions provokes contradictory fears and hopes: anxiety
and in what fields) over competition from asia, belief that poverty,
economic stagnation, and marginalization else-
• the annual cost of attending college full-time, where are both moral and national-security prob-
including tuition, fees, and living expenses lems we need to help solve, and unease over the
erosion of america’s good image abroad.
• the average student debt burden of gradu-
ating students a progressive trade policy must deal with these
concerns. that is a complex task—but the basic
• the ratio of courses taught by teaching as- principles that ought to guide us are relatively
sistants/graduates students to professors simple.
the next president has a chance to make it pos- we need to begin america’s response to econom-
sible for all americans who want to go to college ic challenges abroad here at home.
to do so and challenge them to graduate with a
diploma. but to get there, we have to make the new powers are rising fast across the Pacific.
american Dream affordable again and insist on China has used high-quality industrial invest-
results from our investment. ment from Hong Kong, taiwan, Japan, Korea,
and Singapore to become a manufacturing gi-
a college degree is the ticket to success in the ant. india has combined its technical skills and
global economy. we can’t afford to put up with open society with low-cost telecom channels to
scalpers. become a technology and services power.
Note: 1. Digest of Education Statistics, Table 312, the growing strength of asian economies can’t
the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Depart- be reversed. and while those challenges require
ment of Education that we ensure a fair playing field, our response
to the two giants must begin by recognizing their with a still-gaping trade gap, we need to export
accomplishments and committing ourselves to more. we can only do so by opening big new
match them. markets to american businesses—but almost all
of the bush administration’s recent efforts have
we need a national competitiveness agenda to been spent negotiating trade agreements with
ensure continued u.S. leadership in the most smaller countries.
sophisticated industries, from improved sci-
ence and technology education to accelerated well designed, these can be good on the merits.
broadband deployment. we need more open but they are no substitute for engagement with
high-skill immigration and strengthened in- the five big partners that account for two-thirds
vestment in scientific research. we also need of american trade—the eu, Canada, mexico,
a safety net that fits a modern economy, with Japan, and China—and fast-growing giants like
government compensating for the erosion of india and brazil. only by enforcing agreements
the business-led social contract, guaranteeing and opening markets in these countries can the
health insurance for all dislocated workers, en- next administration help restore the export and
suring portable pensions, and developing ex- investment growth of the 1990s.
periments in insurance for mortgage payment
and college tuition. the blueprint for this progressive response to
globalization comes next year. this year, though,
we need to remember the poor and the marginal- the first step is in the hands of Congress—with
ized. validation of the superb work by reps. rangel
(D-n.y.) and levin (D-mich.) through passage
the “global’’ economy of today is not really of the trade agreement with Peru.
global. it is a belt of growth and wealth extending
from the americas through europe and east asia NOTE: This piece was originally published in the
to australia. most of sub-Saharan africa remains miami Herald.
outside looking in, as are the least developed
nations of asia and the Pacific. So are the large
muslim states of the middle east and South asia, north cArolinA’S
whose share of world trade and investment fell by reVolutionAry high
nearly 75 percent between 1980 and 2000, even School reForm moDel
as their populations nearly doubled. By Gov. Mike Easley
u.S. trade policy needs to help these regions although north Carolina was slow out of the
on the outside, through reform of the u.S. gate in providing high school education after the
textile tariffs, european and Japanese farm turn of the 20th century, we are determined to
quotas, and indian and Chinese import limits take the lead on transforming high school educa-
which tilt world trade policies against the out- tion in the 21st century. we hope that reformers
siders. the united States must join other rich across the nation take special note of our high
countries in this effort through wto agree- school reform initiative which CbS news has
ments and tariff-preference programs that give hailed as “revolutionary.”
the poor new market-access opportunities and
capacity-building programs, as well as incen- our goal is simple. every north Carolinian—
tives for improving labor and environmental no matter their background—must be able to
standards. graduate from high school ready for college and
the world of work. failure in high school pre-
we need to embrace exports with enlightened vents many capable students from landing jobs
self-interest. that empower them to become contributing
members of our communities and reach their thus, those students who have already earned
full potential. two years of college credit without tuition charg-
es through the learn and earn program will
we are especially proud of our learn and earn have an additional two years of scholarship as-
initiative because it enables high school students sistance that will guarantee they graduate from
to gain significant college credit without having college debt-free.
to pay tuition costs. it began by aiming at stu-
dents from families where no one had ever at- learn and earn promises to change the face of
tended college. but success and interest has been our delivery system for higher education. while
so high that learn and earn is now open to all providing a path for all low and moderate-in-
students. come students to graduate debt-free from col-
lege, it will also help to relieve the growing finan-
the learn and earn initiative is establish- cial pressure on our universities to be perpetually
ing new institutional blends of high school expanding facilities for the growing waves of
and early colleges on 75 community college four-year students on their campuses. Currently,
and university campuses across the state. and at just over 200,000, our public university popu-
through full expansion of our university on- lation is on track to grow around 50 percent to
line capability, all high school students across 300,000 over the next decade—and we are work-
the state will be able to join the learn and ing hard to ensure that number goes higher with
earn program and have the chance to take its even more college-bound high school graduates.
classes. all courses will provide instruction by blending high school and college education
on-line from college professors and from in- as well as providing free on-line access, learn
class teachers together. and earn should be of significant assistance in
preventing bricks-and-mortar needs from swal-
learn and earn is especially revolutionary be- lowing university budgets.
cause it allows students to begin their college
education and gain high-level career skills with- we also recognize that educational success for all
out the burden of any tuition charges. learn and of our students depends on ensuring that each
earn graduates gain two years of college credit stage of the educational ladder does its part to
or earn a two-year associates degree a year after equip students with the knowledge and skills they
they would have graduated from traditional high need for the future. So we begin at the beginning.
school. many other students who take learn and initiated in 2002, north Carolina’s more at four
earn classes will be able to gain at least a year’s pre-k initiative is one of two in the nation to meet
worth of college credit. all of the ten quality standards developed by the
national institute for early education research.
furthermore, our budget (now working its way that’s important because, as nobel-prize econo-
through the legislature) takes a big step toward mist James Heckman, isabell Sawhill, and others
making college affordable for all students in have established, quality pre-K focusing on at-
north Carolina. our earn scholarship initia- risk children is an essential foundation for raising
tive is designed to work in tandem with current high school graduation rates as well as develop-
federal assistance so that all college students from ing a superior and prosperous workforce. we are
families with incomes up to around $42,000 will also taking such steps as reducing class sizes in the
not have to accumulate any debt for two years grades K-3, adding literacy coaches in our middle
during college. Students are required to contrib- schools, and professionalizing teacher pay as well
ute to the financial equation by working at least as working conditions.
eight to ten hours a week during the school year
or during summers, and thereby earning money very few public high schools dotted the north
to help pay costs. Carolina landscape at the beginning of the 20th
century and for a number of years thereafter. we america needs a universal health care plan,
did not add a 12th grade to our public school based on the principle of shared responsibility.
system until the 1940s. and even into the 1960s, Coverage should extend to all americans, with
one-fourth of north Carolina’s adults had less business, patients, and government sharing the
than a sixth grade education. cost.
but today we are proud to be at the forefront So we’re delighted that our Democratic candi-
of the national effort to transform high school date has offered a constructive plan that follow
education so that all students are prepared for that principle. and we’re pleased that he has in-
college and the 21st century world of work. we cluded interesting ideas for keeping costs down
believe that washington should take notice and and increasing the efficiency of the system as a
that the lessons of our success in north Caro- whole.
lina can benefit students elsewhere around the
country. to be sure, health care is about coverage and
costs, but it’s also about people. unless we find
UPDATE (8/1/2007): Since the posting of this cures, american families will continue to be
policy memo, Governor Easley’s budget was signed plagued by costly, debilitating, and fatal diseas-
into law, which included the EARN scholarship es such as cancer, diabetes, and alzheimer’s.
initiative. His budget provides $127 million for
the next two years to send and graduate more stu- we believe that a national effort to discover
dents from college, benefiting every student under treatments and cures to eradicate the worst
200% of poverty level. Easley’s EARN scholarships kinds of disease could dramatically improve the
will help an estimated 25,000 low-and moderate- quality of health for all americans, reduce the
income students to benefit from a new financial suffering of families, lower health care costs,
aid program that combines a two-year state grant and lessen the burden that medical care places
with current federal assistance that will replace the on our economy.
need for loans if students work 10 hours a week
to help pay for their education. Therefore, students to achieve this goal, our next president should
who complete the Learn and Earn program with create an american Center for Cures (aCC) —
two years of college credit will be able to finish their a cabinet-level authority charged with fighting
four-year degree at a state university debt free. life-threatening diseases.
by best estimates, 150 million americans have
An AmericAn been affected by a devastating illness. Despite
center For cureS the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dol-
By Al From & Harold Ford, Jr. lars on medical research and the remarkable
progress that has been made on many fronts,
by the time our next president takes office, 50 there hasn’t been a new drug developed for Par-
million americans will be living and working kinson’s disease in 40 years. Children with dia-
without health insurance. betes now take three injections a day, instead
of two. and nearly 600,000 americans die of
by the time he seeks re-election, health care cancer every year.
costs in the united States will reach $3 tril-
lion — with medical costs rising twice as fast as the burden of treating these illnesses is a prima-
workers’ wages. ry reason that medical costs are out of control.
new cancer therapies can cost up to $10,000 a
for those reasons, health care is at the center month — and we spend more than $72.1 bil-
of the presidential debate this year. we believe lion treating the disease each year. the ameri-
can Diabetes association reports that medical the human and health care costs that were pre-
expenses for that disease now top $116 billion. vented by the Salk vaccine are almost impos-
and caring for individuals with alzheimer’s is sible to measure.
estimated to cost at least $100 billion annually,
even as an additional american develops the Curing Parkinson’s, diabetes, alzheimer’s, or
disease every 72 seconds. cancer should be a national priority of our
health care system.
the aCC would be a public-private partner-
ship that would function as an independent the aCC would not be a panacea for all our
entity within the national institute of Health, health care woes. but every illness that we cure
targeting research resources from government, or eradicate will reduce suffering, save ameri-
academia, and the private sector on cure-driven can lives and cut the nation’s health care bill by
projects. it would pay for high-risk, high-re- billions and billions of dollars. that, in turn,
ward research; fund small businesses that have will make it far easier to ensure that everyone
created possible cures but lack the money nec- has access to health care. for that reason alone,
essary to test drugs in clinical trials; and work the center should be a central element of the
to streamline the clinical trial process. next president’s health care agenda.
it would be led by a “director of cures” who NOTE: This article originally appeared in the
would report to the president of the united Commercial appeal.
States and would be overseen by a leadership
council made up of researchers, physicians, fed-
eral agency heads, and entrepreneurs. most im- A common eDucAtionAl
portantly, the aCC would take on the responsi- StAnDArD—AcroSS
bility for finding cures for at least five different the StAteS
diseases within a decade. even partial success By Kevin Carey
would mean a dramatic change for thousands
of americans. a few weeks ago, the u.S. Department of edu-
cation revealed that, for the last five years, the
we admit the goals are ambitious, but the pay- state of missouri has been systematically violat-
off would be enormous. ing the no Child left behind act (nClb). it
wasn’t a technical issue or an inadvertent mis-
there is historical precedent. Half a century ago, take—education officials in missouri simply
polio was the scourge of every family and com- don’t like the law, so they decided to ignore it.
munity in america. its costs in death and pa- Days later, a DC-based education think tank
ralysis were staggering. the iron lung—without released a report finding that state standards
which many polio victims could not breathe— under nClb are wildly different, to the point
became a symbol of terrible suffering. of absurdity and near the limits of mathematic
possibility. together, these findings point to one
in 1952, the polio epidemic reached its peak in of the signal education policy challenges for the
the united States: 58,000 cases, 3,145 deaths next president: forging a new solution to the
and 21,269 more paralyzed for life. americans old and thorny problem of national educational
who lived through that period will remember standards.
the annual campaigns of the march of Dimes
that raised millions of dollars to find a cure. nClb is often criticized as a top-heavy, one-
three years later, Dr. Jonas Salk licensed a vac- size-fits-all law that intrudes on state and local
cine that effectively eradicated the disease in authority. in reality, nClb gives states near-total
the united States. discretion to decide what students need to know,
how to test that knowledge, and what test scores same, because they are the same. an eighth grader
count as “proficient.” apparently, this wasn’t from South Carolina who can’t read won’t become
enough for the missouri Department of educa- any more literate by hopping on a bus to wiscon-
tion, which for years has refused to identify per- sin. and a failing school in missouri is a failing
sistently low-performing schools as “in need of school, even if the state Department of education
improvement,” as the law requires. as a result, would prefer to believe otherwise.
missouri parents were denied free tutoring and
public school choice options for their children, this is not a new conversation, of course, and
even as the schools they were stuck with were many people still have scars from lynne Cheney’s
under no pressure to improve. when their law- attack on the proposed national History Stan-
breaking was discovered, state officials claimed dards in the mid-1990s. but times have changed
both defiance and ignorance—the education de- since then—economic competition has become
partment’s director of federal programs cited “a fiercer and more global, and the negative con-
combination of not agreeing with aspects of the sequences of not having common standards are
law and not being clear about what was expected more obvious. national standards, moreover,
of us in some cases.” don’t have to be federal standards. the most
promising path to eliminating the confusing
the right-leaning thomas b. fordham institute, mish-mash of highly variable and overly lenient
meanwhile, compared state “cut scores”—the state standards is to encourage a collaborative,
number of questions students need to get right bottom-up approach, giving states financial in-
to be counted as “proficient” under nClb—by centives to voluntarily develop shared standards
converting them to a common scale on a high- that cross state lines.
quality test given to students in multiple states.
the variation between states was huge. for ex- that, combined with a tougher stance toward
ample, wisconsin’s standard for eighth grade educational scofflaws like missouri, will move
reading is incredibly easy, at the 14th percentile, the nation toward an education federalism that
compared to the much tougher 71st percentile makes sense for the 21st century. education pol-
in South Carolina. this comes on the heels of a icymakers often talk as if they’re responsible for
2006 associated Press exposé of states that took deciding “what students need to know and be
advantage of legal loopholes to discount the test able to do.” they’re wrong—the world around
scores of millions of minority students—the very us decides that, and increasingly the answer is
students the law was designed to help. the same no matter where you go. Policymakers
can only identify common standards and decide
all of which suggests that states can’t be left to whether all students will have access to schools
their own devices in setting education standards. that reflect them. a willingness to take on this
i use the word standards in a broad sense—not challenge will go a long way toward determin-
just a list of what students need to learn by the ing the educational legacy the next president will
end of each grade, but all the benchmarks and leave behind.
protocols that make up state education account-
ability systems, everything from cut scores to high
school graduation rates to mandatory interven- competing in the gloBAl
tions for failing schools. the current federal/state economy—AnD Winning
standards-sharing arrangement is an irrational through the ScienceS
patchwork of historical precedents and political By Jason Newman
compromises. Some standards, like what students
should know about mid-19th century american the united States is falling behind in the race to
history, shouldn’t be the same in every state. but graduate students with high-level science, tech-
others—like reading and math—should be the nology, engineering, and mathematics (Stem)
degrees to trade partners like india, China, Ja- skills and work expectations; between el-
pan, and South Korea. according to thomas ementary, middle, and high school require-
friedman’s The World is Flat, only 5 percent of ments; and between state standards and
american college students graduate to engineer- those of our international competitors.
ing degrees, compared with 46 percent in China.
the number of american science and engineer- • and third, the Stem teaching force is un-
ing Ph.D. recipients is shrinking as well. mean- derqualified.
while, China, india, and other countries are
investing enormous resources in further devel- Gov. napolitano’s P-20 Council, which she es-
oping their institutions of higher education. tablished to bring business leaders, policymakers
and educators to the table to align K-12, college,
Recently, the Global Competitiveness Report and work expectations, has worked closely with
2006-2007 put out by the world economic emerging industries to define the skill sets—in
forum dropped the united States from first to particular Stem skills—that workers will need
sixth position in country rankings. to fill high-growth, well-paying occupations in
arizona. they have turned this initial discussion
this new reality is startling. engineering and math- into recommendations that will align the K-12
ematics graduates drive our economy through in- and post-secondary education system with the
novation that creates new jobs and new industries needs of the state’s industry.
that then employ others who do not have advanced
degrees. research and development turns into pro- in her recent State of the State address, she noted
duction and exports, a fact that is vital not only to the need for a higher-quality corps of math and
the trade balance but to the health of the american science teachers, calling for the expansion of
economy as well. if we graduate more scientists and teacher loan forgiveness and more scholarships
engineers, america will reap the financial benefits and incentives for these teachers. She also lauded
of our technological superiority. but if the current the success of Science foundation arizona, a
trends continue, we risk losing our competitive ad- public-private partnership that the governor and
vantage in today’s economy. legislature recently created to meld government,
industry, and education into a new business
fortunately, several leaders around the country model emphasizing innovation and discovery.
understand the challenge we face in this area. thus far, the foundation has funded research in
arizona Gov. Janet napolitano (D)has led the areas from cancer treatments to the creation of a
way on this issue at the state level. as Chair of brand new source of biofuel.
the national Governors association last year,
she released a report entitled Building a Science, other governors have used their recent State of the
Technology, Engineering and Math Agenda, which State addresses to take on this challenge at the state
identified three issues that prevent states from level. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius proposed
having world-class Stem education systems. $1 million for new teaching scholarships in math,
science, and technology to attract quality teachers
• first, according to Stem indicators, too in these critical fields. She also included funding for
many high school graduates are not prepared the Kansas academy of math and Science, which
for post-secondary education and work, evi- will open in 2009 to make young Kansans the next
denced by the fact that 30 percent of first- generation of world-class innovators. in iowa, Gov.
year college students are immediately placed Chet Culver (D) proposed a $5 million Stem
in remedial classes. Center at the university of northern iowa to help
double the number of math and science teachers
• Second, there is a lack of alignment among and make sure every high school graduate is ready
the systems—between K-12 post-secondary for the jobs of the future.
but even while new Democrat governors have with government being driven by party politics
attacked this issue, republicans in washington rather than sensible policy.
have failed to respond to the challenge. in 2006,
then-Congressman and current DlC Chair Har- Candidates can establish their leadership creden-
old ford, Jr. (D-tenn.), introduced a bill to create tials by championing policies with proven track
scholarship programs to graduate 1 million new records for promoting individual economic op-
scientists and engineers; institute a grant program portunity. one such example is universal pre-
to attract 10,000 new teachers; create summer in- school. Decades of research make it clear that
stitutes and master’s degree programs to train and children who attend high-quality preschool, re-
strengthen the skills of existing teachers; and fund gardless of their socioeconomic background, are
research by the nation’s most promising young substantially more likely to start school ready-to-
scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. but learn and will continue to do well in school and
republicans never brought the bill to a vote. beyond. Children that do not attend quality pre-
schools, on the other hand, lack requisite skills,
in the Senate, a bipartisan group has intro- rarely catch up to their peers, and are more likely
duced a similar bill, the “Protecting america’s to need special education services or be held
Competitive edge” (PaCe) act, to promote back a grade. later, they are more likely to be-
math and science education based on the na- come teenage parents, commit crimes, drop out
tional academy of Science recommendations. of school, and face limited job opportunities.
it proposes 10,000 scholarships for students
to become science, technology, engineering, unfortunately, far too many children do not en-
or math (Stem) teachers, and 25,000 schol- ter kindergarten ready-to-learn. twenty percent
arships for students to pursue undergraduate of american children under the age of five are
degrees in math and science; establishes non- raised in poverty or live in a single-parent house-
profit organizations to promote advanced place- hold, two conditions that significantly increase
ment courses in our high schools; and advances the risk of school failure. middle-class children
several smaller initiatives to train teachers and also face early learning challenges because their
increase research funding. families cannot afford private preschool pro-
grams, yet earn too much to be eligible for sub-
ultimately, this national challenge will require a so- sidized programs like Head Start.
lution that garners our national resources to guar-
antee that america remains competitive in today’s the stakes of the school readiness gap are high
global economy. However, in the meantime, it is for the individual and high for society. a recent
important that states and governors take the lead ranD study noted that a high school dropout
on ensuring the current trends do not continue. costs society $243,000 to $388,000 over his or
her lifetime, and the cost to society of a typi-
cal “career criminal” is as high as $1.5 million.
hArVeSting the returnS these are financial burdens our economy can-
oF QuAlity pre-School not and should not continue to bear, particularly
By Karen Donahue Alden and Dr. Rahil Briggs when we can substantially reduce these costs by
making high-quality pre-school available to ev-
Presidential candidates, take note. voters want ery 3- and 4-year-old child.
a leader who envisions a strong and prosperous
american 21st century and who will do whatever over time, an investment in high-quality pre-
necessary to make that positive future a reality. school generates an annual return in the range
of 10 percent to 16 percent to government—in
the public’s negative response to the presiden- the same range as investing in the stock market.
tial veto of S-CHiP reflects broad dissatisfaction the returns come from a combination of social
welfare spending cuts and higher taxes on earned school schedule by adding the extra learning
revenue. the size of the return makes high-qual- time students need to succeed.
ity preschool as sound a fiscal investment as it is
a social one. at edwards middle, where the closing bell had
rung at 1:30 p.m. for generations, the school
a federal matching fund should be established, schedule has been significantly expanded and
to be disbursed to states that meet high-quality thoroughly redesigned, with children now stay-
preschool standards, since it is only high-qual- ing until 4:30. the additional time means more
ity preschool programs that consistently gener- math, english, and science, but also additional
ate positive returns. High-quality preschool is enrichment programs including arts, drama,
defined by small class sizes, low child-to-staff chorus, music, apprenticeships, swimming, rock
ratios, and well-trained teachers (i.e. teachers climbing, and much more. teachers also have
with college degrees and specialized training in more time to collaborate, review student data,
early-childhood education). States could then and to plan their lessons.
decide how to allocate that funding, focusing
on expanding access to current high-quality the results have been profound. edwards mid-
programs, helping Head Start programs achieve dle, once among the worst middle schools in
quality benchmarks, or encouraging the estab- boston, is now one of the best. last year, math
lishment of new preschools in under-served low- scores at the school rose across all grades; profi-
and middle-income neighborhoods. ciency rates doubled while failure rates dropped
by 35 percent. the percentage of edwards stu-
if america were a business, high-quality pre- dents scoring proficient on the math section of
school would be a high-priority investment. if the massachusetts assessment test increased at
america were a family, it would fight tirelessly more than double the state and district rates.
to give its children the best possible start in life.
america is a nation built on ideals—like free- edwards middle is not alone. it is one of 18
dom, opportunity, and initiative. in today’s rap- schools across massachusetts taking part in a
idly changing global economy, these ideals will new expanded learning time initiative (elt).
be at risk unless every american starts school around the country, thousands of innovative
ready-to-learn. schools (mostly charter institutions) have also
added significant time to their school schedules.
we know what it takes to develop the next gen-
eration of prosperous citizens, and we should these innovative schools offer a richer, more
support only those presidential candidates who varied school schedule that provides a high qual-
pledge to make high-quality preschool accessible ity, well-rounded education to its students. ad-
to every american child. ditional time allows for more hands-on, proj-
ect-based learning, as well as more one-on-one
support. above all, it gives students more time to
expAnDing leArning time master and excel at the core academic subjects.
By Jennifer Davis & Chris Gabrieli for schools serving underprivileged students,
such as edwards middle, expanded time offers
Just steps from bunker Hill, site of one of the a powerful potential means of reducing the aca-
earliest battles of the american war for indepen- demic achievement gap between middle-class
dence, a new revolution is taking place. at the white children and minority poor children.
Clarence r. edwards middle School in boston’s
Charlestown neighborhood, Principal Jeff riley, the expanded-time schools in massachusetts
teachers, students, parents and school partners and across the country also bring students closer
have declared independence from the traditional to the international standard of time spent in
school. indeed, the contrast between the length high academic standards and a well-rounded
of the school year in the united States and the education. for the latest edition of his book The
rest of the world is stunning. according to data World is Flat, New York Times columnist tom
gleaned from an international assessment on friedman added a section on why liberal arts are
math and science, the average school year in the more important than ever. in a recent interview,
developed world is 191 days, while some asian he said, “it’s not that i don’t think math and sci-
nations like Korea, Japan, and Singapore have ence are important. they still are. but more than
school years of at least 200 days. meanwhile, the ever our secret sauce comes from our ability to
u.S. average is less than 180 days. a recent study integrate arts, science, music[,] and literature
found that more instructional time was associ- with the hard sciences. that’s what produces an
ated with significant increases in science scores, iPod revolution or a Google.”
and that countries with longer school years (e.g.,
Japan, South Korea, and the netherlands) tend more than a few business leaders concur, and
to score higher on international tests. they have given their support to expanded sched-
ules because they want to see more science, tech-
one might think that students—and their nology, engineering, and math (Stem), subjects
teachers—would have reservations about a lon- that are vital to ensuring that young americans
ger school day. in massachusetts, at least, any are competitive with their international counter-
such reservations seem to be outweighed by the parts in today’s global economy. an expanded
benefits of this innovation. teachers and parents school day makes this possible.
from participating schools across the state ex-
press significant support for the new schedule. this reform is not easily categorized as liberal or
teachers are compensated for the extra time, conservative, Democratic or republican. Sim-
and the teachers’ unions support the initiative. ply put, it works—and it’s getting a serious look
meanwhile, teachers and administrators report from education policymakers at the state and
that even students are excited about the new federal levels. State and local governments have
school day. long been laboratories of sensible education re-
form, and several jurisdictions have taken steps
as with any revolution, the shift to a longer toward expanded learning. Delaware, oklaho-
school day has been a long time coming. over ma, and alabama are among the states explor-
the past 25 years, scholars and educators alike ing expanded-time initiatives. municipalities in
have argued for a redesigned school schedule florida, Pennsylvania, and louisiana have taken
that meets the needs of a modern society. How- similar steps at the local level.
ever, as federal and state governments began to
demand higher academic standards, no changes in Congress, Senator edward m. Kennedy (D-
were made to the traditional school schedule. mass.) and representative George miller (D-
Calif.) have committed to including funding for
the result has been a narrowed curriculum in expanded learning time in the reauthorization
schools across the country. a recent report from of the federal no Child left behind law. under
the Center on education Policy stated that “[a]s the federal program, competitive five-year grants
the majority of school districts spend more time would be available to fund expanded-time initia-
on reading and math, 44 percent of districts re- tives in states and local districts.
ported cutting time … in science, social studies,
art and music, physical education, lunch, and this is important progress, but like all revo-
recess.” lutions, it must reach a tipping point where a
new paradigm replaces the old regime. we’re
many observers point out that our society does not there yet. State budget shortfalls are putting
not—and should not—have to choose between new, results-oriented initiatives on hold. on the
presidential campaign trail, education reforms it’s not hyperbole to say that as a systemic mat-
have yet to gain notice as a vital issue. ter we do almost nothing right in terms of how
teachers, are treated throughout their careers.
the solution for those of us who care about Sure, politicians repeatedly profess their respect
such reforms is to push ahead and work toward for teachers but our public policies fundamen-
providing all students with an education that tally disrespect them and the work they do.
prepares them for a successful life. across the more generally, no enterprise, public or private,
country, parents, teachers, administrators, and can thrive over time without paying close atten-
policymakers are increasingly open to expanding tion to how it recruits, trains, and retains its very
the school day in order to deliver that education best people. Considering that the majority of the
for children. these revolutionaries are hoping $500 billion spent annually on american public
that the 4:30 school bell will be a shot heard education goes to people, it is unacceptable that
round the world. we have a system that does not manage human
capital more effectively.
A neW DeAl For teAching Historically, public education did not have to
By Andy Rotherham pay much attention to human capital because of
a largely captive labor market. Professional op-
it’s tough luck for today’s presidential candidates portunities for women and minorities were lim-
but a lot of education ideas are spoken for or ited and teaching was an attractive option. but,
discredited. Standards and accountability? Presi- thankfully, times have changed and numerous
dent Clinton and President bush did that. Just professional doors are now open for previously
spending more money? Didn’t work. vouchers excluded groups. but that means public schools
and tax credits? adam Smith isn’t going to fix must complete for talent as never before. (to-
our schools for us. instead, it’s the thornier issues day though, they’re not and are mostly doing
that policymakers must tackle today. but look the same things we’ve done for more than a gen-
on the bright side, candidates! Here’s a chance eration.) the result, as research clearly shows, is
to really demonstrate leadership, fortitude, and a that people with the traits associated with effec-
willingness to take on hard issues. tive teaching are disproportionately drawn away
from education while those without those traits
the question of human capital—teachers and are disproportionately drawn in.
school leaders—in public education is exactly
the kind of politically and substantively compli- the federal government spends approximately
cated issue that policymakers must tackle today. $3 billion annually on teacher quality. most
it’s not a cliché. in education, people are almost of this funding is spent on low-impact, low-
everything and every reform will fail without at- leverage activities such as class-size reduction
tention to human capital. research shows that and often ineffective professional develop-
teacher effectiveness is the most important in- ment programs. by revamping and augment-
school variable affecting how much students ing this funding, the federal government
learn. in fact, outstanding teachers can largely could put forward a new Deal for teaching
overcome today’s achievement gaps while inef- that invests in states that seek to substantially
fective ones hopelessly exacerbate it. overhaul their approaches to recruiting, train-
ing, inducting, mentoring, evaluating, and
yet despite the centrality of people to education, compensating teachers. for instance, federal
current strategies for teacher recruitment, train- investments could support charter colleges
ing, evaluation, and compensation are largely di- of education that train teachers based on re-
vorced from the goals of effectiveness and equity search-based best practices or in actual schools
and are misaligned with what we know works. working with real teachers rather than distant
universities; better strategies for mentoring benefits for the american worker. the PbGC re-
and inducting new teachers; more consistent ceives no funds from general tax revenues and its
and effective evaluations for teachers; or new operations are financed primarily by insurance
compensation schemes that raise teacher pay premiums set by Congress and paid by sponsors
by rewarding special skills, knowledge, and of defined benefit plans. those insurance premi-
outstanding performance. these and other ums are based on criteria that attempt to evalu-
human capital reforms are good for students ate the risk inherent in each plan. Currently, the
because they promote teacher quality. but PbGC protects over 40 million workers in over
they’re good for teachers, too. talented people 30,000 plans.
want to be in an environment where talent is
expected, respected, and rewarded. in the year ending September 30, 2006, it re-
ceived approximately $1.5 billion in premium
rather than today’s approach, where states re- income, had about $350 million in expenses,
ceive federal dollars for teacher quality regard- and by its own estimates was underfunded by
less of the effectiveness of what they do, the approximately $18 billion.
federal government should take the posture of
an investor by supporting promising practices Since 1974, the credit markets have evolved
and innovation in partnership with states that dramatically, to where, today, the free market is
are undertaking genuine reform. traditionally, likely to be a much more efficient mechanism
federal education dollars have served as a cata- to protect the workers, and a more economically
lyst for state reforms. it’s time for washing- rational method for determining the proper risk
ton to again play that role and prod the states premium a plan should pay. if the government
to get serious about human capital. and it’s a were to mandate that all pension plans had to
perfect opportunity for the presidential candi- buy insurance on their deficit from the market,
dates to show leadership and independence on it would obviate the need for the PbGC to serve
a hard issue. as the middleman.
in addition to more properly evaluating the
protect penSionS risk, the market price would provide better in-
By Frank Brosens and Stephen A. Ross centives for corporations to properly fund plans
in order to minimize the insurance costs. well-
the government support of workers’ pensions is funded plans would pay less for insurance than
broken. underfunded plans but the overall industry will
benefit from a more rational allocation of risk.
the government program, the Pension benefit as the market becomes more sophisticated, the
Guaranty Corporation (PbGC), is seriously un- incentives to the plan would become more de-
derfunded, and therefore does not have the capi- veloped, and the costs over time would likely
tal to take care of workers whose pension plans be reduced.
have been abandoned by bankrupt companies.
So far this decade, tens of thousands of workers this proposal will significantly reduce the func-
who have depended on their pensions to provide tions of the PbGC, but it could remain as a
for their retirement have seen their benefits cut regulatory agency with the mandate to oversee
severely, and the concern of the american work- that pension plans obtain adequate insurance
er is palpable. coverage.
Created by the employee retirement income it might also oversee the development of a pri-
Security act of 1974, the PbGC is a federal cor- vate high-risk pool of insurance for those com-
poration intended to protect the basic retirement panies unable to obtain coverage.
tAming the BuDget tions in the deficit via lower spending and higher
By Isabel Sawhill revenue. of equal importance, they would give
ordinary citizens a stake in the outcome.
when the new President takes office in 2009,
the deficit for that year may be relatively modest. ultimately, major reforms in entitlement pro-
but it is almost certain to balloon before he or grams, especially in the health care system, as
she leaves office. well as the tax system, are what are most needed.
these reforms should be designed to make the
the sooner the administration formulates a systems simpler, fairer, and more efficient.
strategy for putting the nation’s fiscal house in
order, the better off we will all be. but the above steps would give a new president
time to educate the public and build a constitu-
this is a moral imperative if we don’t want to ency for more fundamental changes.
saddle the youngest generation with a huge debt;
it’s a political imperative if we want to demon-
strate that democracy works; and it’s an eco- reStoring the purchASing
nomic imperative if we want to avoid a potential poWer oF the AmericorpS
crisis, keep incomes growing, and not end up in eDucAtionAl AWArD
hock to the rest of the world. By Joel Berg
but we all know that raising taxes or cutting the ameriCorps program, which enables amer-
spending is political suicide. So, what to do? icans to perform domestic national service in
exchange for aid to pay for college or graduate
Presidential candidates should take nothing off school, is one of the great public policy success
the table. they should support pay-go financ- stories of the last few decades.
ing of any proposal. they should also support
pending legislation in the House and the Senate ameriCorps has consistently promoted personal
to establish a bipartisan commission to deal with responsibility, expanded educational opportunity,
both entitlements and taxes, agree to meet with and strengthened the nation’s bonds of communi-
the members of the Commission right after the ty—all the while filling vital societal needs. Since
election, and commit to an expedited process for the program was launched in 1994, it has engaged
enacting the Commission’s proposals or a modi- more than 500,000 americans in more than 637
fied version of them upon taking office. million hours of service to local communities na-
tionwide. Program participants have effectively
finally, they should consider following the lead tutored in schools, fought forest fires, immunized
of other advanced nations, and build into legisla- children, responded to natural disasters, and con-
tion automatic adjustments in both revenues and ducted community anti-crime patrols.
spending in response to a projected budgetary
shortfall. for example, if Congressional budget the non-partisan organization that i run, the
office projected at any time that structural defi- new york City Coalition against Hunger, spon-
cits as a proportion of GDP were going to exceed sors two different ameriCorps teams that aid
2 percent over the next decade, then this might local soup kitchens and food pantries. Hungry
automatically trigger a cost of living adjustment new yorkers benefit greatly from the idealism,
in Social Security, an increase in medicare pre- energy, and street-smarts of the people who serve
miums, and a change in the way certain income in our ameriCorps programs.
and payroll tax provisions are indexed for infla-
tion. because of the breadth of these laws, even the next President should dramatically expand
small changes could produce substantial reduc- ameriCorps. the program now engages roughly
70,000 full- and part-time participants a year. but private college and 47 percent of the costs at an
that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the approxi- average public college.
mately 1.4 million amerians who serve in the armed
forces and the more than four million people who today—13 years later—because the educational
graduate from high school in the u.S. each year. award stayed the same while private and public
college costs skyrocketed far faster than the rate
ameriCorps should be large enough so that of inflation—an ameriCorps educational award
that service to the country—whether civilian or now pays for only 5 percent of a four-year pri-
military—could be an option for all americans vate education and only 21 percent of a four-year
willing to serve. therefore, the next President public education. to make matters even worse,
should propose a plan that would, over the next the ameriCorps educational award—unlike
decade, ramp-up ameriCorps to a program 10 many forms of federal student aid—is taxable,
times its current size, using that long planning so its buying power is often even less.
time to ensure that all the projects in the larger
program will still fill crucial community needs. the sad truth is that the average liberal arts grad-
uate (who now earns an average of $31,333 in
in the meantime, one easy and affordable step the first year out of college) would actually save
the nation can take to prove we value national more money to pay back old loans and/or to pay
service is to restore the purchasing power of the for graduate school by working in a regular job
educational award for ameriCorps participants. than he or she would by serving in ameriCorps.
the relative worth of the award has decreased so
greatly since the program’s start that two of the Serving in ameriCorps still builds an ethic of ser-
most important original goals of ameriCorps— vice, provides real-life work experiences, and gives
helping americans afford post-secondary educa- idealistic americans a much-needed outlet for
tion and bringing together people from diverse serving their country. those are all vital reasons to
socio-economic backgrounds—are both at risk. serve. but as a purely economic matter, it is now a
horrible deal. it is no wonder that is becoming in-
when the DlC first proposed the general idea creasingly difficult for ameriCorps program spon-
of tying national service to student aid in 1988, sors such as my organization to recruit teams of
the plan was to provide an educational award of participants that are socio-economically diverse.
$10,000 per year for each year of civilian ser-
vice. at that time, that would have equaled 26 to counter these trends, the President and
percent of the costs for four years at an average Congress should immediately increase the edu-
private college and 131 percent of the costs for cational award to $10,000 for each year of full-
four years at an average public college. in other time service, which, at current enrollment lev-
words, under the original DlC proposal, the ed- els, would cost the federal government less than
ucational award earned through a year of service $200 million extra per year. Given the clear
would have enabled someone to pay for their economic benefits of expanding access to high-
entire undergraduate degree at a public institu- er education, this additional spending would
tion and still have a significant sum left over for be an extremely cost-effective investment in
graduate school. the nation’s future. we should also stop taxing
these awards and index their future levels to the
by the time ameriCorps was formally launched rate of inflation.
in 1994, due to fierce Congressional opposition
and budget realities, the educational award was Some public and private colleges match ameri-
set by the legislation at only $4,725 for each year Corps educational awards with their own fund-
of service. that amount then paid for about 11 ing. national leaders should urge more private
percent of the costs for four years at an average colleges to so, and state and local elected officials
should appropriate funding to enable public insti- portunities force young people to leave their
tutions to do so. hometowns to seek employment elsewhere. ac-
cording to the u.S. Department of agriculture
taken together, these relatively modest steps would (uSDa), of the 65 million people living in ru-
reinvigorate the original civic compact promised by ral america, only 2 million are engaged direct-
ameriCorps—a mutually beneficial deal in which ly in the production of agriculture and many
both the nation and the participants gain. family farmers rely on off-farm employment to
supplement their income.
these steps would also provide a down-payment
on achieving the long-term goal of expanding according to uSDa’s Strategic Plan for fiscal
ameriCorps so greatly that a year of voluntary year 2005-2010, “the development of the inter-
civilian or military service would become a stan- net-based economy provides unique opportuni-
dard rite of passage for young americans. as Dr. ties for rural america. broadband infrastructure
martin luther King, Jr. once said, “anyone can greatly helps to mitigate the limitations on busi-
be great because anyone can serve.” it’s time to ness development in rural areas caused by geo-
give all americans the opportunity to achieve graphical distance and a limited customer base.”
their greatness through service.
broadband also brings educational opportuni-
ties to students who do not live near a university
A neW FeDerAl or who work full-time and still want to earn a
BroADBAnD policy degree. many two-year and four-year colleges
By Laura Spining offer courses online, complete with interaction
with the professor and ample academic support,
in today’s world of youtube video sharing, online but in a way that accommodates the student’s
conferencing, animated advertising, and light- schedule. broadband also opens up a world of
ning fast music downloads, it’s easy to forget that knowledge and information whether it is learn-
less than a decade ago, the internet was mainly a ing about the world through the national Geo-
source of text data, and many of the people who graphic web site or by browsing the collection at
used it were content with the connectivity provid- the museum of modern art.
ed by dial-up connections. in less than a decade,
the internet has become an essential utility in our advances in technologies also improve health care
nation’s economy, in the way we communicate for people who do not have access to specialists for
and the way in which we do business. their particular illness or cannot afford to travel
long distances for diagnosis and treatment. medi-
nationwide deployment of high speed, always- cal centers with the latest technologies have the re-
on broadband internet and mobile communi- sults of a patient’s x-rays in 15 minutes, instead of
cations will fuel the development of millions of the week-long wait that had to be endured in the
new jobs in the united States. according to a past. in alaska, many of the smaller communities
2002 study by the new millennium research rely upon broadband technologies to improve the
Council, widespread deployment of high-speed quality of their health care. the sheer distance be-
internet infrastructure will create 1.2 million per- tween towns in alaska can delay life-saving medi-
manent jobs. the study predicted that 166,000 cal assistance, but thanks to broadband, specialists
of those jobs would be in the telecommunica- can in real-time guide the local physician through
tions industry, 71,700 in the manufacturing sec- diagnosis and even surgery.
tor and 974,000 indirect jobs.
while broadband definitely provides benefits to
broadband is also a driving force for rural society, it also is a source of entertainment and
economic development, where limited op- a connection for many americans. in 15 years,
internet traffic increased from one petabyte per cannot now foresee the endless possibilities the
month to one petabyte per day, as more and internet still has to offer. updates in technology
more people began using their computers to should be supported by updated policy deci-
watch movies and television shows, send videos sions; those which encourage investment in an
to their family and friends, telecommute, and infrastructure that will ensure that we as a coun-
keep in touch. try not only maintain the internet we have come
to rely on, but also allow it to flourish.
the internet and the infrastructure that pro-
vides us access to it is a series of interconnected,
privately-owned networks and each year compa- SAVe the looSe chAnge
nies collectively spend billions to improve and By Paul Weinstein Jr.
expand that infrastructure. However, the digital
divide is real in many communities and we be- my wife often calls me cheap because once ev-
lieve that the policy- makers can further encour- ery two months i empty out my change jar and
age private investment as well as re-directing fed- head to the nearest bank to exchange my as-
eral resources to continue to close the gap. sorted coins for dollar bills. Generally, the ridi-
cule ends when i use my newfound largesse to
1. Promote partnerships between state govern- take her out to dinner. but apparently, however,
ments and industry to develop mapping i am not as thrifty as my wife thinks, since i am
programs to identify the availability and not getting full value for my change. why? be-
gaps in broadband access. Public/private cause the price of cooper, nickel, zinc, and other
partnerships such as ConnectKentucky le- metals has risen so much, that for instance, the
verage new technologies and network map- copper used to make pennies are worth more
ping data to accelerate broadband access for than the denomination on the back of lincoln’s
the purposes of community and economic head.
development, improving health care, en-
hancing education, and providing more ef- it currently costs about a cent and a half to produce
fective and efficient government services. a penny and more than eight cents to produce a
nickel, according to the mint. Skyrocketing met-
2. Support tax policies that encourage invest- als prices, a result of a strong worldwide economy,
ment and innovation such as a permanent have all contributed to rising production costs. for
internet tax moratorium, a permanent example, even though metal prices overall have de-
r&D tax credit, accelerated and rational- clined a bit recently, copper costs are up more than
ized depreciation schedules for technology 24 percent from the beginning of the year.
and equipment, allowing companies to ex-
pense new broadband investment in the first that’s why a number of members of the Sen-
year, tax credits for especially robust new ate and House have introduced legislation that
networks. would give the mint the power to alter the metal
composition of coins—making them cheaper to
3. require that all new publicly-financed af- produce. only Congress can change coin com-
fordable housing includes broadband ready positions, which happens only rarely.
the members behind the legislation estimate
in the years since its creation, americans have al- that a change in the composition of the penny
ready far surpassed the original intended uses for and nickel could save the government more than
the internet. Just as the initial creators could not $100 million each year. if changes were made
have envisioned all that broadband now enables, to other, higher-denominated coins, the savings
from video sharing to improved health care, we could reach $400 million.
now $400 million out of a $3 trillion federal had partnered with many cities to provide city-
budget is small potatoes. but that’s not the point. wide broadband access, announced plans to layoff
if we are serious about getting our fiscal house in about half of its workforce. the next day, Chicago
order, then coming up with a list of budget cuts shelved its plan to build a city network. Houston’s
and reforms like this has to be a part of the mix plan was put in jeopardy when earthlink paid a $5
—long with closing tax loopholes or restoring the million penalty to the city for failing to meet dead-
pre-2001 tax rates. lines, suggesting that the deal will be scuttled unless
earthlink finds new investment partners within
unfortunately, too many of the republican nine months. and then earthlink backed out of a
and Democratic presidential candidates have proposed contract with San francisco.
not provided enough specific spending cuts or
government reforms to help either pay for their blips in the effort to deploy broadband represent
campaign promises or to reduce the deficit. a real setback for citizens of each community, par-
that’s unfortunate from a policy perspective and ticularly low-income residents, who stand to gain
dangerous from a political one. the most from free or reduced price wireless, high-
speed internet. this spate of bad news from across
During the 2000 election, former vice President the country shines a light on an important national
Gore’s platform included a approximate $500 bil- problem: as a nation, our so-called “broadband
lion tax cut. However, because he focused on all the ranking” which measures the percent age of people
new programs he wanted to create, many americans in the countries who subscribe to the internet us-
assumed he would raise taxes. while i have no doubt ing any of the broadband technologies continues
that all the Democratic candidates would be more to plummet. in 2001, the S.D. ranked fourth in
fiscally responsible than the current administration, broadband adoption rates. today we have dropped
our case for being the party of fiscal responsibility is to 15th. in addition, current broadband access in
only buttressed if we convince the american people this country tends to be slower, less capable, and
(and pre-empt republican charges of being taxers more expensive than in most other industrialized
and spenders) by specifically laying out how we will nations. as Gov. eliot Spitzer(D-n.y.) has said, “if
roll back the excessive spending habits that have be- you’re a kid growing up in South Korea, your in-
come the hallmark of the bush administration. ternet access is 10 times faster at half the price than
a kid growing up in the South bronx.”
using cheaper metals to make our change is one
place to start. as cities and states across the country have set forth
ambitious plans, our federal government can no
longer afford to sit on the sidelines. the united
A neW commitment to States is the only industrialized nation that does
BroADBAnD Deployment not have a national policy promoting broadband
By Jason Newman access. in 2004, President bush paid lip service to
the issue and set a goal of universal broadband ac-
High-speed broadband internet connections such cess in the united States by 2007. but as 2007 slips
as DSl, wifi, cable, or fiber (as opposed to the into history, we have seen little follow through at
slow, and inconsistent, connection made through the federal level, and we are nowhere near universal
a standard phone line), have become a necessity in access.
most work environments.
in order for america to remain competitive in to-
but we recently saw significant setbacks to efforts day’s global economy, the next president should
to expand access to broadband in major cities that pursue a strong and ambitious universal broadband
were seeking to build citywide wireless broad- access plan. not only will it give all americans the
band networks. two weeks ago, earthlink, which tools to compete, but it will also give businesses the
ability to provide telecommuting opportunities services across the state, with particular atten-
to employees, expand content that they provide, tion to rural areas
and more effectively partner with companies from
around the world. • in maine, Gov. John baldacci (D) and the
maine legislature created the Connectme
Several states have stepped up to the plate to authority. under the legislation, tax reim-
find innovative ways to deploy broadband into bursements will be available for infrastruc-
rural and other areas where deployment is tra- ture investments in areas that are presently
ditionally too expensive for the traditional mar- not served. the Connectme authority
ket. federal policy makers should draw from will receive $500,000 from the universal
these examples and support these innovative Service fund to assist maine in expanding
efforts: broadband services. the new authority will
obtain uSDa rural development money to
• in virginia, the mid-atlantic broadband advance broadband deployment in maine
Cooperative, a not-for-profit cooperative and it will track investments made in the
formed by former Gov. mark warner (D) in states, and continually assess the availabil-
partnership with the federal, state, and lo- ity of services there.
cal governments, along with the private sec-
tor, recently completed a fiber build-out of • finally, in California, Gov. arnold Schwarzeneg-
more than 700 miles of fiber infrastructure ger (r) has appointed 21 technology leaders
in southwest virginia. this will give access to a broadband task force to help remove
to nearly 700,000 virginians and more than barriers to high-speed cable and wireless and
19,000 businesses that were unconnected will soon make $460 million available for this
and create 1,560 new jobs. Gov. tim Kaine project, much of which comes from education
(D-va.) has added onto warner’s work by bonds approved by the voters in 2006.
setting a goal of having broadband access to
all businesses by 2010. in order to achieve the benefits of universal affordable broadband ac-
this goal, he created the virginia office of cess are tremendous. a 2001 report by the brook-
telework Promotion and broadband assis- ings institution estimated that widespread adop-
tance, which will help facilitate construction tion of broadband could add $500 billion to the
of the so-called “last mile” broadband tech- national economy and create 1.2 million jobs per
nologies throughout the state, which con- year.
nects each individual business to the broad-
band network. the question is not whether this country will even-
tually have widespread access to broadband. that
• in tennessee, a state that ranks 37th in broad- is virtually certain. the issue is how soon fuller
band access, the tennessee broadband task broadband access will be available, and who will
force, created by Gov. Phil bredesen (D) and catalyze it. a wait-and-see approach means amer-
chaired by State Sen. roy Herron (D) and ica will lag behind its global competitors. it’s time
rep. mark maddox (D), called for a public- for the federal government to support these ambi-
private partnership to help facilitate the de- tious state and city efforts with a national plan to
ployment of broadband infrastructure and ensure that america can continue to thrive in the
promote more access and usage of broadband connected age.
Our country needs a new politics for the 21st century,
one focused on organizing public resources to give
families and communities the tools they need to solve
their problems. The following essays discuss ways
in which good government will prove to be the
AmericA neeDS exaggeration to say that the G.i. bill was in-
A 21St century g.i. Bill strumental in building the middle class as we
By Al From & Harold Ford, Jr. know it now.
america is rooted in the belief that with oppor- a new G.i. bill could have a similar, dramatic
tunity comes responsibility—that each citizen impact on america. many young americans
willing to work hard and invest in the future would choose to serve in the military, providing
should be given the chance to grow and succeed. the armed forces with the leadership and talent
to address the nation’s toughest challenges and they badly need. others would join ameriCorps
repair our fraying social fabric, we need to return or the Peace Corps, providing invaluable civilian
to that founding principle. that can be accom- service.
plished by crafting a 21st Century G.i. bill of
rights. a new G.i. bill would offer more young amer-
icans the chance to go to college. over a life-
Here’s how it would work. the federal govern- time of work, a college graduate earns nearly
ment would deposit $5,000 in the name of ev- $500,000 more than a high school graduate. but
ery newborn u.S. child into a tax-free, college the cost of college keeps going up, and provid-
education-type fund. families would be encour- ing every child a personal savings account from
aged to supplement it with additional payments. birth would make it possible for millions more
through the miracle of compound interest, that to attend.
fund would be worth nearly $17,000 by the
time the child reached college age-even if a dime Critics will undoubtedly say it’s too expensive—
was never added to the account. a family that the same charge they used against the G.i. bill
contributed just $100 a month would, 18 years seven decades ago. but history has shown that
later, have an additional $60,000. the money the G.i. bill has generated $7 in economic ben-
could be tapped any time between the ages of 18 efit for every $1 invested and that it provided
and 25 to pay for college, start a business, or buy an education for three u.S. presidents, three Su-
a first home. preme Court justices, and 14 nobel Prize win-
to access the government’s contribution (with
interest), however, a person would have to com- moreover, because the new version would be de-
mit to one year of civilian or military service. if signed as a defined contribution program rather
the person declined to serve, he or she could, of than a defined benefit, its long-term cost would
course, withdraw any additional funds contrib- be reduced: a $5,000 investment at birth will be
uted to the account. but the federal contribution worth much more when it is withdrawn because
would return to the treasury. of compound interest. over time, money not
claimed by those who chose not to serve would
that’s all there is to it: a basic bargain between be recycled (with interest) to lower the cost of
washington and every child born as a u.S. citi- the program.
zen. the government will invest in your future,
but to redeem that investment you have to serve this proposed bill is not a panacea for all of our
your country. nation’s ills. but it could be a cornerstone idea,
restoring the basic bargain of opportunity and
that’s a bold idea that’s rooted in history. responsibility that has made america the most
nearly half of the 16 million americans who prosperous country on earth.
served in the armed forces during world war
ii used the G.i. bill to improve their educa- NOTE: This piece originally appeared in the Chi-
tion—and 11 million bought homes. it’s no cago tribune.
For WorK AnD country company for life, people now change jobs all the
By Bruce Reed time and routinely scan the horizon for other
options. the potential for mid-career service is
for days, thousands of online volunteers have greater than it has ever been, while the policy
pored over satellite photos of the nevada des- debate has not kept pace.
ert to help search for missing pilot Steve fossett.
their spontaneous and remarkable dedication Here’s one new service idea that is easy to un-
makes two things clear. first, the bush adminis- derstand—a law to assure americans who want
tration might have more luck if it asked Google to serve their country or community that their
to take over the search for osama bin laden. old job will be waiting for them when they come
Second, people everywhere are looking for new back. the idea is tucked away near the end of
ways to do their part. “imagining america,” an excellent report just re-
leased by the american Jewish Committee task
George w. bush missed an historic opportunity force on national service.
to call us to a higher purpose after 9/11. but this
President’s signal failure is the next President’s the details of the law would need to be
big chance. the progressive movement should worked out—what kinds of service would be
be clear: if he won’t ask americans what they can eligible, how long the service could last, which
do for their country, we will. employees and businesses would be covered,
etc. one model worth a look is Polaroid’s leave
two weeks ago, time magazine proposed a of absence program, which gives older workers
ten-point plan for universal national service for six months to explore other opportunities like
americans between the ages of 18 and 25. last service, then decide whether to come back to
year, rep. rahm emanuel and i pushed the same the same job or work part-time.
idea in our book, The Plan.
but the power of the principle behind national
but national service isn’t just for young people. service leave is clear. Just as President Clinton’s
experience Corps offers americans over 55 the family leave law made it easier for americans to
chance to give something back. not only does balance work and family, a national service leave
that rapidly growing group have an enormous law would make it easier for citizens to promote
amount to offer, but service will play an impor- work and country.
tant role in helping our aging society reinvent
what career and retirement mean. the truth in its own small way, the idea might also help
is, every american has a responsibility to give candidates show they understand what ameri-
something back, and all deserve the chance. So cans have hungered for since 9/11: a President
we shouldn’t forget still another group that’s who will challenge more than our patience.
usually left out of discussions about service—the
120 million americans between the ages of 25
and 55 who make up the largest demographic hoW to pop
group of all. the DeFicit BuBBle
By Will Marshall
we tend to assume service is not an option for
this crowd, because between work and fam- the u.S. treasury recently reported that the fed-
ily, many of them have so much else to do. for eral deficit will hit a record high of $311 billion
millions of parents, that’s undoubtedly true. for the first half of the fiscal year thanks in part,
yet here again, the demographics are changing. to plunging corporate profits and revenues. the
Couples are waiting longer before having chil- report was greeted with stifled yawns by officials
dren. where workers used to stay with the same in washington. Similar indifference met the Social
Security and medicare trustees when they issued in truth, we aren’t there either. So what we pro-
their annual spring warning about an even bigger pose instead is essentially a stopgap—a way to
fiscal time bomb: exploding entitlement costs. prevent automatic entitlement spending from
devouring the federal budget while elected of-
the trustees are used to being ignored, but this ficials summon the courage to act.
year’s warning is more serious than ever: in
2008, the oldest of 77 million baby boomers the plan, conceived by Gene Steuerle and rudy
will reach the age of eligibility for medicare and Penner of the urban institute, works like this:
Social Security. it is the beginning of an un- Congress and the president enact explicit, long-
precedented demographic surge that threatens term budgets for medicare, medicaid, and Social
to overwhelm the nation’s finances if we don’t Security. with this one step, entitlements would
act—and soon. be forced to compete for budget dollars with
other vital national priorities.
to this end, members of the brookings-Her-
itage fiscal Seminar, a nonpartisan group of either the trustees or the Congressional budget
16 federal budget and policy experts of which office would review the programs at regular in-
i am member, have hammered out an innova- tervals—possibly every five years—to determine
tive plan for averting a fiscal meltdown. the whether they stay within their budget. failure to
basic idea is simple: take entitlement spend- do so triggers automatic adjustments in benefits,
ing off auto-pilot and establish a fixed, overall premiums, provider payments, or tax revenues.
budget for the programs.
of course, Congress could override these adjust-
Political leaders can no longer afford to let the ments—but it would have to take explicit action
big entitlement programs grow automatically to jettison fiscal constraints. this is preferable
each year with no deliberation by Congress, no to its current passivity in the face of automatic,
pressure to reconcile spending and revenues, and formula-driven spending growth.
no attempts to make trade-offs among compet-
ing public priorities. amazingly, discretionary programs, including
defense, now constitute only 38 percent of all
when it comes to entitlement reform, the future federal spending. our proposal would end the
is now. in the report, taking back our fiscal ever-narrowing scope of congressional decision-
future, we say: “our political leaders have been making and fully restore lawmakers’ constitu-
avoiding this enormous issue—largely because it tional power of the purse.
requires that the public be told that not all past
promises can be met. our group has come to- Congress has imposed disciplinary mechanisms
gether, from diverse points on the political spec- upon itself before. the budget caps adopted in
trum, to sound an alarm: if america is to remain 1990, the military base Closing Commission,
strong, such evasions must end.” and the 1983 Social Security Commission led
by alan Greenspan are all instances in which
the best solution, of course, would be for the Congress recognized the need to establish pro-
next Congress and president to agree on ways cedures that provide members political cover for
to reform medicare, medicaid, and Social Secu- unpopular decisions.
rity so that they continue to provide health and
retirement security without running up massive our idea for budgeting entitlements thus re-
deficits. but our highly polarized political class is verses the “Doomsday machine” logic of auto-
a long way from consensus on how to modern- matic entitlement spending, calling instead for
ize the nation’s biggest and most popular social the automatic tax and spending adjustments
insurance programs. necessary to keep the programs solvent. and if
the composition of our group is any guide, it Federal Travel Budget (in billions)1
could have broad, bipartisan appeal. meeting
’01 ’02 ’03 ’04 ’05 ’06
under the auspices of the brookings institu-
tion and the Heritage foundation, the gang of spending $6.0 $6.6 $8.4 $8.9 $10.9 $9.1
16 includes prominent liberals and conserva- Non-military
travel spending $3.0 $3.4 $3.6 $4.3 $4.5 $5.0
tives from eight washington think tanks, as
well as no less than three former directors of spending $9.02 $10.1 $11.9 $13.2 $15.4 $14.1
the Congressional budget office: Penner, al-
ice rivlin, and robert reischauer.
Annual Growth Rates
what unites us is fear of what unsustainable ‘01-02 ‘02-03 ‘03-04 ‘04-05 ‘05-06 Avg. ‘01-06
growth in entitlement spending portends. Annual growth
Conservatives worry that taxes on working spending 10.5% 26.0 6.6 22.5 -16.5 9.8 51.7
families will have to rise to crippling levels to Annual growth
pay for the promises made to retirees. Progres- travel spending 13.9% 3.2 21.1 4.7 11.1 10.8 65.6
sives want to prevent automatic entitlement Annual growth
spending from squeezing out space in the fed- spending 11.6% 18.2 10.9 16.7 -8.4 9.8 56.3
eral budget for such vital public investments
as educating the young, fighting poverty, pro-
tecting the environment, keeping our mili- Some of the recent increases may be due to rising
tary strong, and modernizing our energy and oil prices and the demands of the wars in iraq and
transportation systems. afghanistan. but even taking those factors into ac-
count, year in and year out, agencies spend more
inaction in the face of the looming budget on travel than they project, and the size of the rate
crunch is not wise. Putting entitlements on a of increase experienced in recent years is consistent
fixed budget will, we hope, set the stage for the to those prior to 9/11, indicating this is a structural
long-overdue debate over how to ensure that our rather than temporary problem.
venerable social insurance programs continue to
serve future generations of americans. furthermore, the fact that travel spending is ris-
ing at such a rapid pace would seem to be coun-
NOTE: This article originally appeared in the wall terintuitive, considering that the last decade has
Street Journal. witnessed remarkable improvements in telecom-
munications technology (including video con-
ferencing, web-casting, etc.) that should have
cutting BAcK decreased the need for face-to-face meetings and
on FeDerAl trAVel onsite visits.
By Paul Weinstein Jr.
Part of the problem is a lack of oversight on
one of the first things companies cut when the part of the bush administration, which has
faced with budget imbalances is travel. yet, not been vigilant in ensuring rules regarding
despite record federal deficits in recent years, travel expenditures are followed. for example,
government expenditures for travel have according to a Government accountability of-
grown by leaps and bounds. for example, in fice (Gao) report from earlier this year, gov-
fy 2001, federal agencies spent approximately ernment employees spend at least $147 mil-
$9 billion on travel for mission-related busi- lion on first and business class tickets annually,
ness around the world. in fy 2006, that figure in violation of government rules that require
reached just over $14 billion—an increase of workers to fly coach. but much of the reason
56.1 percent. for these large increases is due to the lack of any
real mechanism to limit the annual growth in designed to be hard-fought. for all the talk of thin
travel spending. majorities in both chambers of Congress, artfully
designed districts protect most House members
Proposal from the sword of Damocles. During the 2002
the federal government should create a hard election, when republicans maintained control of
cap on travel expenditures by civilian employees the House, a full 91 percent of members defeated
(travel by military personnel would be exempt) their opponents by 10 percentage points or more.
and cut the expected rate of growth in half. to four years later—in an election in which Demo-
ensure that emergency travel needs are met, crats took control of both chambers—all but 60
agencies should be required to hold a percent- of the 435 voting members of the House won by
age of their travel budget (10 to 20 percent) in more than 10 points.
reserve until the last month of each fiscal year.
this cap could be put into place by a Presiden- the relative comfort that most members of Con-
tial executive order and enforced by the office gress enjoy—so stark in comparison to the one-
of management and budget (omb) half percent and 2.5 percent margins in the past
two presidential elections—diminishes the power
by holding the expected rate of growth in half, voters can exert over the agenda in washington.
the federal government could save $12.68 bil- when members can’t lose, voters do—because
lion over the next ten years. it takes the pressure off Congress to get the job
Daniel Pulliam & Lauren Taylor, Government
Executive Magazine besides letting members off the hook for failing to
http://www.govexec.com/features/0806-15/ do the people’s business, noncompetitive districts
0806-15s6.htm also suppress voter participation. elections where
http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0807/ the outcome is assumed from the start receive less
082907p1.htm media attention. Candidates do not feel as com-
http://www.govexec.com/top200/03top/ pelled to make their cases to the public. and vot-
top03s7s2.htm ers aren’t stupid: when the outcome is essentially
http://www.govexec.com/features/0804-15/ predetermined, there’s less reason to cast a ballot.
indeed, the Democratic leadership Council has
found that, on average, 30,000 additional voters
reDiStricting reForm participate in congressional elections decided by
By Marc Dunkelman & Bruce Reed less than 10 percentage points. that’s equivalent
to expanding the voting pool by one-sixth.
Competition and democracy go hand-in-hand.
after races that came down to the narrowest of on average, 214,000 voters cast ballots in the
margins in florida in 2000 and ohio in 2004, 60 competitive races run in 2006. in 60 non-
americans are getting used to hard-fought, close competitive elections (in which members won
presidential elections—and the 2008 campaign by between 50 and 90 percentage points), only
is the most electrifying in years. both Demo- 153,000 voters came out—28 percent less.
cratic candidates won more primary votes than
any previous nominee. both ushered new vot- the same study postulates that if every congres-
ers into the process, as did the sheer closeness sional district were redrawn to be competitive
of the campaign. (meaning that all 435 were balanced to produce
spreads under 10 percent), as many as 11 million
but real competition is still a rare commodity in additional voters would cast ballots. it is impos-
the House of representatives, which the framers sible to imagine a district-by-district map that
would produce uniformly competitive races (no america, their brethren are caught in a fundrais-
matter how you draw the lines in manhattan, for ing arms race that threatens the impartiality of
instance, it would be hard to craft a district evenly our courts. this new politics of judicial elections
split between Democrats and republicans). but is dangerous because it seeks to make judges an-
it is difficult to believe that a nation divided by swerable to special interests and political partisans,
margins of less than three percentage points in rather than to the law and the constitution.
the past two presidential elections is accurately
represented by a House in which 85 percent of although almost 90 percent of america’s state
members won their districts by more than 10 per- judges must stand for election, judges histori-
centage points. cally haven’t had to raise huge war chests, cater
to interest groups, make sound-bite promises,
Currently, states draw the lines that separate con- or respond to hardball attacks. but over the past
gressional districts using a variety of means. iowa, decade, political and special interest pressure
for instance, has empowered a nonpartisan panel has been changing the nature of contested Su-
to map lines that minimize partisan advantage. preme Court campaigns in america. a “perfect
as a result, the average margin of victory in the storm” of hardball tv ads, millions of dollars in
2002 iowa House races was a mere 13 percentage campaign contributions, and increasingly bare-
points—and an average of 202,000 voters cast bal- knuckled special interest politics have descended
lots in each district. virginia, on the other hand, on court campaigns across the country.
allows its legislature to gerrymander districts to
the advantage of incumbents and partisans. that Costly and corrosive court campaigns have fast
same year, largely as a result, the average margin of become the new norm. attorneys, partisans, and
victory for virginia’s congressional candidates was special interest groups with cases in court are
more than 60 points, and mean voter turnout was pouring millions of dollars into judicial contests—
almost one-third smaller than in iowa. mostly for those of high courts, but increasingly
into those of appellate and even district courts.
with americans disillusioned by washington’s broadcast television ads seek to push wedge-issue
seeming inability to move beyond the partisan di- politics into our courts of law. aggressive ques-
vide that has poisoned the spirit of compromise, tionnaires from special interest groups seek to
reducing the influence of special interests may be pressure judges to take stands on controversial
only part of the solution. if we want more ameri- issues—before they even hear a case.
cans to participate in democracy, we should make
sure more of them have an opportunity to affect the breakthrough year for big money court
the outcome of the campaign for their local seat campaigns was 2000, when state supreme court
in Congress. candidates raised a record $45.6 million—a
61 percent increase over the previous election
NOTE: This article originally appeared in the cycle-and political parties and interest groups
washington Post. spent at least $10 million to $16 million more
on independent tv ads. Since 1999, candidates
for america’s state high courts have raised more
the groWing threAt to FAir than $157 million, and fundraising records in at
AnD impArtiAl juStice least 15 states have been eclipsed. for example,
By Bert Brandenburg in a 2004 rural judicial district race in illinois,
two candidates combined to raise a record $9.3
in Pennsylvania this month, another campaign million—more money than 18 of the 34 u.S.
spending record was smashed. old news? the Senate races that year. “that’s obscene,” said the
twist is that more than $5 million has been raised winner on election night. “How can people have
this year by state supreme court candidates. across faith in the system?”
much of this money is being spent as part of the enter the national debate over our courts. ameri-
nation’s tort wars. of the $157 million raised cans need judges who are accountable to the law
by judges between 1999 and 2006, 35 percent and the Constitution, not to special interests.
came from businesses and business groups, an-
other 26 percent from attorneys (plaintiff and
defense), 11 percent from political parties, and hoW to reForm
7 percent from the candidates themselves. in the WAll Street regulAtion
2006 election cycle, business groups outspent By Paul Weinstein Jr.
lawyers by more than two to one, but that may
be about to change: trial lawyers are vowing to the bush administration’s plan to transform
escalate their spending, and a new Democratic financial market regulation—unveiled last
Judicial Campaign Committee is vowing to raise week by treasury Secretary Henry Paulson—
millions to unseat judges and justices across the confirmed what a number of reform-minded
country. policymakers have known for sometime:
washington’s oversight of wall Street if far
americans are worried about the effect on impar- from ideal.
tial justice: 76 percent believe that campaign cash
affects courtroom decisions. in a separate survey, our system of regulation is a hodgepodge built
more than one in four state judges agree. interest on a structure dating from the 1930s. there are
groups aren’t content to rely on fat checkbooks more than 100 federal, state, and self-regulatory
and nasty tv ads to throw their weight around agencies (e.g., new york Stock exchange) that
in judicial contests. they’re also trying to pres- oversee the nation’s commercial banks, insurance
sure candidates into making statements on the firms, investment houses, and venture funds.
campaign trail—on all sides of hot button issues and though some financial institutions—like
like abortion—in order to intimidate judges and commercial banks and their holding compa-
lock them into positions before they take a seat nies—answer to multiple regulators, others—
on the bench. namely privately held hedge funds—are subject
to almost no oversight.
in the face of metastasizing special-interest pres-
sure, many states are considering reforms. north a system rife with holes and redundancy calls
Carolina and new mexico adopted public fi- for an overhaul. and the recent bailout of bear
nancing for judicial races. minnesota may join Stearns—combined with the housing crisis—
16 other states using merit selection and up-or- may have created a political opportunity for ac-
down “retention elections” to choose their high tion in washington.
court judges. there is growing interest in requir-
ing judges to recuse themselves from at least some but before jumping ahead with grandiose schemes
cases where contributors argue before them in for reforming the system, policymakers should
court—or when campaign trail speech calls their keep in mind three important principles:
partiality into question. in low-turnout judicial
races, where interest groups can tape a race by Learn from the Department of Homeland
turning out their base, nonpartisan voter guides Security experience.
can help insulate judicial contests in the hands of opinion leaders have begun to float the idea of
mainstream voters. creating a “superagency,” charged with regulating
all financial service firms. the federal reserve,
next year more than 30 states will hold high maybe the nation’s most revered government agen-
court elections. these races can’t be left in the cy, might be entrusted. alternatively, an entirely
hands of partisans and politicians. it’s time for new entity could be created to police wall Street.
everyone—judges, lawyers, and civic leaders—to but beware. the same impulse to put everything
related under one roof led to creation of the De- frequent and thorough examination, addition-
partment of Homeland Security—a behemoth al resources for regulators, tighter supervision,
that already demands reform less than a decade and tougher penalties for those that break the
after its birth. bigger is not always better. rules.
in fact, creating a superagency might lead to Level the playing field.
more red tape and bureaucratic inefficiency. the financial services industry provides the
that’s not to say there aren’t places where fuel (capital and credit) that drives our econo-
agency consolidation makes sense. my. ensuring confidence in our financial mar-
kets is key to a healthy economy. but when
for example, Congress should merge the of- firms operating in the same market are forced
fice of the Comptroller of the Currency (which to play by different sets of regulatory and tax
regulates national banks) with the office of rules, someone is bound to be at a competitive
thrift Supervision (which regulates savings disadvantage. moreover, the ambiguity com-
and loans). there is virtually no difference pels certain firms to try to push the regulatory
between the modern savings and loan and boundaries.
today’s commercial bank. furthermore, both
agencies report to the same office in the trea- it’s time for Congress and the administration to
sury Department, maintain offices in many of develop a baseline of regulatory standards and
the same cities, and employ very similar pro- procedures (and tax treatment as well) that all
cedures to regulate the institutions under their financial services firms would be compelled to
jurisdiction. Combining the agencies would meet. in an effort to level the playing field, the
also free up resources to improve supervision risk management practices of wall Street invest-
elsewhere. ment banks might be tightened—and higher
cash reserves might be required (as a cushion
Streamline regulations, but strengthen against unexpected trading losses) to put them
oversight. Some financial firms, like state- at par with the regulations that govern commer-
chartered commercial banks, are regulated cial banks.
by both federal and state agencies.
others, like insurance firms, are regulated only Hedge funds might be required to adhere to the
by the states. Still others, like investment houses, same tax rates placed on other financial firms. at
are subject only to the oversight of federal regu- a minimum, the president and Congress should
lators. although the system of dual regulation direct all regulators to make annual recommen-
(federal and state) has encouraged innovation dations on how to rationalize and improve the
and experimentation, it also has created expen- regulatory system. as part of that effort, regula-
sive barriers for those who want to conduct busi- tors should have to prepare legislative and regu-
ness in all 50 states. latory recommendations for Congress and the
the time has come to review whether state
regulation of financial firms that operate across whenever wall Street faces a massive correction,
state and international boundaries makes sense washington feels compelled to act. as we begin
in today’s global economy. at a minimum, to consider measures to prevent another bear
Congress should consider setting national Stearns, we ought to take a holistic view of how
standards for state regulators and allowing a to improve oversight of the financial services in-
federal charter option for all financial firms. dustry.
in return for streamlining regulatory duplica-
tion, financial firms of all stripes should agree NOTE: This article originally appeared in The
to greater federal oversight, including more new Jersey Star-ledger.
the tArgeteD tAx would support a targeted tax to pay for specific
By Lanny Davis programs, such as new school construction or
higher teacher salaries, the numbers dramatically
most taxes levied on americans go into the gen- switch. majorities are willing to pay the new tax
eral fund, meaning the income taxes and general if revenues from it can only be used for the des-
corporate taxes, for example, paid by individu- ignated purpose.
als and corporations go into a single pot, which
is then divvied up among items in the federal in recent weeks, maryland Democratic Gov. mar-
budget. tin o’malley has proposed a comprehensive pack-
age of spending cuts, tax cuts, and tax increases to
we ought instead to raise money using a para- close a structural deficit that he inherited from the
digm called the “targeted tax.” another way of prior republican Gov. robert ehrlich exceeding
saying this is to call it a dedicated or “earmarked” $1.7 billion. one important part of his package in-
tax. However, instead of borrowing to spend on cludes a classic example of a “targeted” tax—split-
pork like bridges that lead to nowhere, the tax ting a 1 percent increase in the corporate income
revenues must, by statute, only be used for the tax between higher education subsidies to hold
designated purpose. one practical way to ensure down student tuition and transportation and infra-
this is to create special “trust funds” into which structure investments. in addition, Gov. o’malley
revenues from that tax must be deposited. these has proposed increases in various other taxes, such
would have statutory prohibitions (carrying crim- as increasing vehicle titling tax 1 percent and in-
inal penalties applicable to federal appointees in dexing the state gas tax, that would be dedicated
the department to which the funds are assigned) only for critical transportation needs. whether or
against spending those funds on anything other not the maryland legislature will add supra-major-
than the targeted purpose. an extra-majority— ity requirements to prevent future raiding of these
such as a two-thirds or four-fifths majority vote dedicated funds for non-education or non-trans-
by both houses of Congress—would be required portation purposes remains to be seen.
before anyone could spend the targeted tax rev-
enues on anything other than what is specifically once the american people trust that these tar-
designated under the law. geted tax revenues cannot be raided by law, then
support for new types of taxes should dramati-
the idea of a “targeted tax” is not new, but the cally increase. these could include a targeted,
expansion of the concept to fund new govern- special “value added” or national sales tax (made
ment programs and investments is. Since Presi- progressive through lower-income rebates), as
dent eisenhower, the Highway trust fund has well as special income tax surcharges weighted
received billions of dollars of gasoline tax rev- toward wealthier taxpayers.
enues that, for most of its history, could only
be used to construct the interstate highway sys- Here are four potential targeted-tax “trust funds”
tem. only in recent years, overcoming intense that reflect the priorities of most americans.
opposition from the highway lobby, have some
of the Highway trust fund revenues been • an education trust fund could be specifi-
made available for mass and public transporta- cally targeted to build new schools, fund
tion investments. higher teacher salaries, expand Head Start
tutorial attention for the poor and the un-
Polling data is decisive on this issue. when peo- derprivileged, and provide tax breaks for the
ple are asked the general question of whether middle class for college tuition.
they support increased taxes to fund govern-
ment programs, majorities usually say no. yet, • a Health Care trust fund could guarantee
when the same sample is asked whether they minimal access to insurance and health care
for all americans, with focus on those at the ergy; electric-powered cars; and well as so-
lowest end of the economic ladder. it would lar, wind, and water-power technologies. as
also use tax and other market incentives to tom friedman has written, unless america
reward private medicine for cutting medical can be weaned from dependence on foreign
care costs. oil, this country will not be able to regain its
economic and political independence that
• mass transit and environmental trust has been so compromised.
funds could focus on transportation and
environmental infrastructure. they could of course, there are other priorities and public
be used to rebuild our decaying bridges and investments that can be paid for by new target-
highways, to expand mass transit and public ed taxes, such as restructuring Social Security;
transportation alternatives, and to subsidize a massive new marshall Plan to retrain workers
investments in technology to ensure cleaner whose jobs are threatened by outsourcing and
air and water. unfair competition in developing countries;
and a national service corps in which all high
• an energy independence trust fund could school graduates are required to perform some
be for developing clean energy alternatives form of national service for one to two years
to achieve independence from foreign oil. after graduation.
they might include synfuels (using new
synthetic fuel technologies to convert coal once the targeted tax is accepted as the govern-
into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other pe- ing revenue-raising principle, there is a greater
troleum products as montana Gov. brian chance for selling tax increases in the future
Schweitzer has argued is now both eco- to fund new programs such as these, as well as
nomic and practical at today’s price of oil); the ability to address the new problems that are
safer and environmentally clean nuclear en- bound to arise.
The development of cleaner fuels and energy
technologies is the key to tackling the twin challenges
of fossil fuel dependence and global climate change.
At the same time, developing a hybrid economy
provides us the chance to create high-paying jobs and
make America more competitive in the global
marketplace. In the pieces that follow, experts describe
ways in which the government can create conditions
and incentives that stimulate innovation in the
BuilDing A neW energy we also need to recognize that while we will con-
economy tinue to rely on fossil fuels for some time to come,
By Gov. Bill Ritter we encourage cleaner ways of extracting and using
one of the most important undertakings pos-
sible for the next president of the united States is our efforts to help bring forward a new energy
to help bring forward a “new energy economy” economy in Colorado were strongly evidenced
for our country. in a robust legislative session this past year. in-
cluded in the bills i signed into law were:
while running for governor, i emphasized that
the election was about fulfilling the “Colorado • a doubling of the state’s renewable Portfo-
Promise”—the promise to our children and our lio Standard to 20 percent by 2020 (10 per-
grandchildren that we can leave them a better cent by 2020 for reas and co-ops);
state, one that reaches Colorado’s fullest poten-
tial for the 21st century. one of the key compo- • a significant expansion of utility-scale de-
nents to that promise is to help bring forward a mand side management (or energy efficien-
new energy economy for Colorado. cy) programs that allows the utilities to be
better rewarded monetarily for their invest-
the promise for a new energy economy high- ments in efficiency while benefiting custom-
lights the fact that Colorado is blessed with ers as well;
abundant renewable and traditional energy
sources. our efforts are focused in part on the • the creation and seeding of a $7 million
economic development potential inherent in a Clean energy fund for the state that will
new energy future and i have promised to help help support emerging technologies bridge
establish Colorado as a national leader by: the gap between research and development
and successful introduction in the market-
• Promoting alternative energy; place;
• encouraging cleaner ways of extracting and • mapping of Colorado’s renewable energy
using fossil fuels; resources and commensurate transmission
required to get that power to urban areas;
• rewarding efficiency and conservation;
• Creation of a renewable energy bonding
• attracting research, development, manufac- authority to help utilities pay for transmis-
turing, and other economic opportunities sion construction;
and jobs around renewable energy; and
• a high performance building standard for
• making rural Colorado a driver in the ex- all buildings receiving 20% or greater fund-
pansion of solar power, wind, and biofuel ing for either retrofits or new construction;
• a requirement that all communities across
our country faces a similar crossroads and nowhere Colorado that have a building code also in-
is that more evident than in our energy economy. clude the international energy Conserva-
the imperative of climate change heightens our tion Code (ieCC) 2003 standard; and
need to broaden our fuel portfolio to include a far
greater reliance on fuels and power production that • establishment of a bioenergy research pro-
do not contribute further to increasing atmospheric gram that will help identify low-water bio-
concentrations of Co2 and other greenhouse gases. energy crops.
additionally, i signed a Greening of State Gov- Such a measure should be a tool for positive
ernment executive order that will demonstrate change, and should not preempt state ability
what a 60,000+ employee, $17.6 billion “busi- to set stricter standards; and
ness” (the State of Colorado) can do to be as cost
and resource efficient as possible. • Pass federal cap and auction legislation. to
effectively address both climate change and
this is only a partial list of what we accom- our need for an evolving energy economy,
plished this past session. as we work with leg- we can and should construct an economy
islators and Colorado citizens and communities that makes it profitable to “decarbonize.”
to think through measures that should be con- Passage of a cap and trade or cap and auc-
sidered in the 2008 legislative session, we will tion system at the federal level—much
consider actions that are best taken at the state like the So2 trading program enacted
level and others best taken at the federal level. under the Clean air act amendments—
we will watch the presidential sweepstakes un- would be an enormous step forward for
fold with interest. the u.S. to begin meaningful action to re-
duce greenhouse gas emissions in an eco-
from a single state’s perspective, i can offer nomic way.
the following suggestions for action at the fed-
eral level, both in the executive and legislative
branches, to begin to address the challenges and BuilDing colorADo’S
opportunities inherent in climate change and in green economy
bringing forward a new energy economy: By Speaker Andrew Romanoff
• Lead by example. the next president should Colorado has gotten a lot of attention in recent
announce his or her intent to require the years for its Democratic gains: growing majorities
federal government to become as resource in the state legislature and in our Congressional
efficient as possible and to reduce its carbon delegation, the takeover of one u.S. Senate seat
footprint measurably by a clearly established and the increasingly bright prospects of another,
date; and the resounding election of a dynamic new
• Make energy efficiency more profitable. as one
of our most underutilized solutions to effect but in many ways, the most important color in
change, we must recognize the opportunity Colorado is not red or blue. it’s green. that’s the
our country has to expand energy efficiency color of a cleaner environment. and that’s the
exponentially is the lowest cost approach color of our new energy economy.
available to us. federal incentives and dem-
onstration by the federal government of effi- Colorado’s investments in wind, solar, biomass,
cacy of efficiency measures can help this key and other renewable resources have created thou-
economic development strategy expand; sands of jobs and returned millions of dollars in
new revenue. by diversifying our energy portfolio,
• Enact a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard we are saving money, reducing the demand for
(RPS). in our need to boost the portion of water, cutting carbon emissions, promoting pub-
power provided to u.S. citizens from renew- lic health, and protecting our national security.
able sources of energy, a federal rPS would
provide the most level playing field and the people of Colorado are leading the way. in
greatest economic opportunity for utilities 2004, the citizens passed an initiative requiring
across the country to invest, buy, and sell re- 10 percent of our energy to come from renew-
newable energy production across all states. able sources by 2015. we’re on track to meet that
goal seven years ahead of schedule. this year, we it might surprise some to learn that transpor-
doubled the renewable energy standard, requir- tation is the fastest-growing source of carbon
ing 20 percent by 2020. emissions. to address this, legislation was signed
into law last December required cars to average
we enacted nearly 20 other measures to spur 35 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2020, up from 25
the new energy economy in Colorado. we freed mpg today. our current climate-change bill in-
renewable-energy equipment from sales and use cludes a provision to require cleaner fuels.
taxes. we accelerated the construction of power-
transmission lines. and we made it easier to install but we need to do more to address how far
wind turbines and solar panels at home and at people drive. Since 1970, overall energy con-
work. we also took steps to encourage energy effi- sumption—in spite of vehicle fuel-efficiency im-
ciency and conservation, promote better building provements—has grown by 41 percent. in part,
practices, and jump-start research and develop- this is because the vehicle miles traveled in the
ment of biofuels and other carbon-cutting tech- united States grew by 148 percent. this increase
nologies at institutes of higher education. is largely due to longer commutes and shifts in
driving patterns—not population growth. in
our efforts are paying off. vestas, the world’s fact, population growth accounts for only 38
top manufacturer of wind-power systems, an- percent of the increase in vehicle miles. between
nounced plans in march to build a turbine fac- 2005 and 2030, consumption is expected to in-
tory in northern Colorado. more than 400 jobs crease another 59 percent.
are on the way. Sunedison will complete a solar
plant in the San luis valley next year. it will pro- across much of the united States, driving is
duce enough clean energy to power nearly 1,500 essential to accomplish the smallest errand. in
homes. most places, one cannot get to work, pick up
kids from school, or buy a gallon of milk with-
next year will bring more progress. we’re ex- out burning at least a gallon of gas. there simply
ploring new technologies, such as concentrating is not reliable transit to take people where they
solar. we’re expanding the use of net metering, need to go. many kids can no longer walk to
so that homeowners and businesses can generate school safely because they live in communities
their own clean power. and we’re enhancing en- that are designed more for the automobile than
ergy efficiency in transportation, construction, for the pedestrian. along many busy roads, there
and nearly every other sector of our economy. aren’t even any sidewalks to accommodate any-
one who might want to walk instead of drive.
Colorado is on track to lead the world in the
research, development and use of renewable en- living in a sprawling area without transporta-
ergy. america can too. tion options can double a family’s greenhouse-
gas emissions. the negative consequences go
beyond the effects on the environment. longer
curBing cArBon From cArS commutes and increased driving distances cost
By Sen. Tom Carper time and money. many american families must
own multiple cars and spend more time away
this summer, the u.S. Senate is expected to from home. this means less money to invest in
consider groundbreaking, bipartisan legislation your home or child’s college fund—and less time
to reduce our country’s greenhouse-gas emis- to spend with your family.
sions. through this bill we would harness mar-
ket forces to fight man-made climate change and the climate bill that will be considered by the
reduce emissions from power plants, factories, Senate would place a “cap” on carbon-dioxide
office buildings, and vehicles. emissions and establish a market in which pol-
luters could buy and sell permits to release those cause of rising fuel costs. Six broad fare increases
emissions. the proceeds from the sale of these have gone into effect this year alone, along with
emissions permits would raise trillions of dollars new charges on everything from pillows to a first
that could be used to support the deployment piece of checked luggage. and in the new york
of alternative energy, fund research into clean metropolitan area, the nation’s largest market,
technologies, and address our growing transpor- the delays have been so chronic that the federal
tation needs. government has imposed flight caps and installed
a new “airport czar” to make sense of the mess.
the current legislation provides some funding
for transit—about $500 million a year—but this and just think–the summer travel season is just
is less than one-half of what we spend annually beginning.
on public transportation; if anything, we should
be spending more than we have in the past to while the laws of supply and demand will un-
meet the large and growing need for transit op- doubtedly correct some of the problems the air-
tions. line industry faces, the future for air travelers is
not so bright. most economists agree that airline
additionally, we need to invest in sidewalks and mergers, fewer flights, and new, more fuel-effi-
crosswalks that will make our neighborhoods cient planes will eventually help put the industry
more walkable. furthermore, we should offer on stronger financial ground.
incentives for development patterns that encour-
age people to walk rather than take a car every- unfortunately, these very measures will also
where they need to go. mean higher prices, less choice, and fewer ame-
nities for passengers. in the short term, passen-
we must offer americans alternatives to car gers have two choices: fly less or pay more for an
travel if we are going to be successful in reducing inferior service. but if the united States is seri-
greenhouse gas emissions and weaning ourselves ous about fixing the air-travel mess, there’s a real,
off of foreign oil. fortunately, such measures also long-term solution: high-speed rail.
have the welcome effect of allowing americans
to spend less time and money stuck in traffic. for years, some policymakers have called for a
in other words, this policy is good for working u.S. passenger high-speed rail system equal to
families, good for the environment, and good those found in europe and Japan. unfortunate-
for our economy. ly, cheap fuel, the rise of low-cost airlines, and
congressional inaction have undercut any mo-
that’s why i’m backing it, and that’s why the mentum for a major investment in high-speed
Senate should include it in the climate-change rail.
bill this summer.
today, however, with the cost of energy skyrock-
eting and our air-travel system reaching its lim-
high-SpeeD rAil SolutionS its, demand for rail is outpacing supply.
For chronic SKy trouBleS
By Bruce Reed and Paul Weinstein Jr. that’s why the next president and the new Con-
gress should commit to building five new high-
if america’s air travel system is any indication, speed rail corridors in the next 10 years. the
the sky really is falling. corridors would be selected based on three key
criteria: geography (the flatter the terrain, the
flights have been canceled by the hundreds due faster the train); a high probability of use (dense-
to safety concerns. four airlines have gone out of ly populated corridors with significant levels of
business since the end of march, in large part be- highway and airborne traffic); and a commit-
ment by the private sector, states and localities Since the wright brothers, americans have
to share in the cost of construction. wherever viewed the airplane as the future and trains as
possible, the high-speed rail corridors should the past. these days, it looks more like the other
connect to major air hubs. way around. if we were meant to fly, we weren’t
meant to suffer this much for it. if we mean to
roads and airports have direct sources of financ- get somewhere, we’ll develop a high-speed rail
ing—namely taxes on gasoline and ticket pur- system.
chases. if high-speed rail is going to become a
reality, it will need a similarly robust stream of NOTE: This piece originally appeared in newsday.
income. that’s why policymakers should estab-
lish a trust fund that would finance construction
and maintenance. we could pay for this invest- A gloBAl enVironment
ment in a number of ways: carbon-offset pur- orgAnizAtion
chases, a 4.3-cent diesel gas tax on the railroad By Ed Gresser & Jan Mazurek
industry that would raise about $200 million a
year, ticket surcharges, and/or matching contri- al Gore’s nobel Peace Prize award last year gave
butions from states served by the new rail lines. new energy to climate-change diplomacy. in the
award’s wake, our next president has a unique
a major investment in high-speed rail could dra- chance to meet the world’s single biggest envi-
matically decrease congestion at airports and on ronmental challenge with a landmark agreement
highways, as well. a single railroad track, just 6 that commits the united States to rejoin inter-
feet across, would provide the same capacity as national efforts to cut gases that are causing the
expanding the long island expressway by six planet to warm. but such an agreement won’t be
lanes. amtrak’s high-speed acela express trains enough because the world’s environmental insti-
have already captured a significant portion of tutions are too weak and too fragmented to en-
travelers between new york City and washing- force it. He or she should therefore accompany
ton, D.C., competing with shuttle flights for climate change policy with institutional reform:
passengers. specifically, creation of the Global environmen-
tal organization, or Geo.
as for energy savings, even the most conserva-
tive studies give trains an advantage of four to even setting climate change aside, the need for
one over cars and airplanes. according to studies Geo is clear. environmental policy is the or-
done in Japan, high-speed trains produce one- phan child of international law and institutions.
tenth the carbon-dioxide emissions of airplanes. those interested in preserving the environment
are far less able to make policy work than their
with our economy most likely headed into a cousins in trade, finance, labor, and security.
recession, another compelling argument for a
major investment in high-speed rail is that it for an illustrative comparison, take a look at
will help produce millions of new jobs and pro- trade policy. the world’s most important trade
mote economic growth. a $20 billion invest- negotiations, agreements, and enforcement
ment in high-speed rail will create more than are centered in a single institution, the world
300,000 jobs nationally. that ratio of invest- trade organization (wto). based in Geneva,
ment to job creation compares quite favorably the wto not only is the venue for the major
to the recently enacted federal stimulus pack- contemporary trade negotiation—the Doha
age. according to treasury Secretary Henry round—but it also oversees 20 existing multi-
Paulson, the $150 billion stimulus will create lateral trade agreements on topics including ser-
only 500,000 jobs this year (a cost of $300,000 vices, farm subsidies, tariffs, information tech-
per job). nology, and intellectual property. it has a single
head, Director-General Pascal lamy, whose the lead international environmental body is
background is as a leading french politician and the u.n. environmental Programme (uneP),
european union Commissioner. its mandatory an arm of the united nations located in nairobi.
membership dues make the organization’s staff tellingly labeled a programme rather than an or-
independent from the control of its powerful ganization, it is run by a u.n. undersecretary—
members. and each of the wto’s 152 members that is, a second-tier official—rather than by
has an ambassador permanently stationed at the an independent leader. its funding comes from
organization who serves as a single point-person voluntary contributions rather than mandatory
for trade negotiations and enforcement. the dues, and it is separated from the technical-aid
whole membership reviews each country’s com- organization known as the Global environmen-
pliance with the full array of agreements once tal facility.
every three years. when this oversight falls short,
wto members settle their differences through environmental agreements, as a result, are un-
an average of 10 dispute settlement cases every systematic and poorly enforced. they are scat-
month. tered around the world, with the agreement
on desertification headquartered in Germany,
the institutions created for finance, labor, and the Persistent organic Pollutants agreement in
security over the course of the 20th century are Stockholm, chlorofluorocarbon control in Que-
similar. the united nations and its Security bec, and antarctic protection in tasmania. each
Council handle peace and security, in extreme has its own Secretariat, whose enforcement and
cases through resolutions backed by military oversight procedures operate independently of
force. the world bank and international mon- the rest. Countries participating in the agree-
etary fund have overseen finance and develop- ments are free to sign some and ignore others.
ment since 1945, with advice backed by real neither governments nor interested citizens
money. the 90-year-old international labor have an easy way to assess their obligations or
organization sets out core labor standards bind- their partners’ compliance.
ing on all the world’s businesses, unions, and
governments. each of these organizations has its it should be no surprise that international en-
own central headquarters, a chief officer with a vironmental protection often fails. the 1986
staff funded by mandatory dues, and procedures international tropical timber agreement,
for enforcing the rules. whose 35 staffers at the yokohoma headquar-
ters are supposed to monitor and enforce lim-
they all have weaknesses, of course. Some reflect its on 21 million cubic meters worth of trade
the natural differences of interest among coun- in tropical logs and timber, has been power-
tries and the complexity of the world’s security less to prevent the loss of more than one-tenth
and economic challenges. others reflect differ- of the world’s tropical forested land since its
ences of design, with the wto probably given signature. the effort to protect sea turtles is
the most efficient means of arbitrating disputes. a different illustration of the environmental
but even so, they unite sophisticated negotiat- system’s inadequacy—one showing its gaps
ing procedures and enforcement on everything rather than a simple failure of enforcement.
from radio frequency allocation to peacekeeping Governments have used the Convention on
in Haiti to child labor policy—and just as im- international trade in endangered Species to
portant, serve as a gateway for the flow of infor- protect turtles from the relatively small threat
mation on their issue to the world’s governments of international trade in canned soup and tur-
and public. tle-shell jewelry, but they have done nothing
about the far greater threat of destruction of
environmental institutions and policy are a stark nesting beaches. as a result, the turtle popula-
and sad contrast. tion, therefore, continues to decline.
weak and uneven environmental institutions the case for Geo is fundamentally simple:
also increase economic costs to regulated com- Global environmental protection means at least
panies and to regulatory agencies, as u.S. his- as much to the world’s present and future as
tory of environmental law illustrates. the cur- trade, finance, labor, and security. we should,
rent u.S. system of law arose, in large part, from therefore, take global environmental policy and
industry demands for a more level playing field. institutions as seriously as we take these others.
the 50 separate sets of state policy that prevailed the time to start is now. and the individual most
up until the late 1960s made compliance costly well-suited to serve as its first leader is none other
and uncertain for companies and created strong than our nobel laureate, vice President Gore.
incentives for some states with weaker laws to
serve as pollution havens. in response, during
the 1960s, Congress created the federal system of hoW to Win the greAt lAKeS
air, water, and waste laws in place today—much By John Austin
as the creation of the wto in the 1990s unified
a disparate group of tariff agreements, subsidy the conventional wisdom says presidential as-
and anti-dumping codes, and intellectual prop- pirants looking to win over voters in the battle-
erty rules. for challenges that are global in scope, ground industrial states of the Great lakes, like
such as climate change, Geo’s economic and ohio, michigan, and wisconsin, should throw
environmental imperative is obvious. red meat around saving manufacturing jobs, and
offer protections from global trade.
the weaknesses of today’s environmental system
will be vastly magnified in the event of a suc- more helpful would be tangible proposals that
cessful climate-change treaty. these issues are leverage the region’s unique assets as a center of
complicated by nature. a climate-change agree- technology innovation, education—the Great
ment will require vastly complex obligations and lakes themselves. rather than pander to fears of
monitoring mechanisms. Spanning many coun- globalization, federal policy can help the region’s
tries and thousands of industries, it will require firms and workers create new products and enter-
sophisticated enforcement tools that could sink prises and flexibly adapt to a changed economy.
the agreement in the absence of a clear, unbiased
monitoring organization as individual countries the twelve states that are america’s industrial
each seek to judge and enforce the compliance of heartland—from minnesota and wisconsin
all the rest. even with the world’s good will and in the west, to Pennsylvania and new york in
enthusiasm behind it, such an agreement could the east—almost all presidential battleground
easily fail. states—are a national center of innovation.
they collectively produce one-third of the na-
the time has therefore come for something sim- tion’s new intellectual property. in an era where
pler, stronger, and better. Put simply, global en- growing sectors like it and bio-life sciences
vironmental policy needs institutions as strong only emerge around great research universities-
and sophisticated as those we have for other top- the Great lakes region has 20 of the top 100
ics. the environment needs a single organization, research universities in the world—compared
with mandatory dues and an independent chief to 15 in the northeast/mid-atlantic and 13 on
of recognized international stature. it should take west Coast. this world-leading university net-
control of the existing welter of agreements and work awards 38 percent of all college degrees in
serve as the main venue for enforcing them, fix- the country, including 37 percent of the nation’s
ing their weaknesses, and negotiating new ones. advanced science and engineering degrees.
we suggest the Global environmental organi-
zation, with the easy and appropriate acronym this education and research infrastructure with
Geo. federal support has been responsible for econo-
my-changing innovations including the internet yesterday’s factory worker adapt in today’s
(whose technologies were developed at universi- economy;
ties of illinois, michigan, and minnesota). the
Great lakes region is well positioned to lead the • Help states create state-managed defined
nation’s push for clean energy solutions and in- contribution retirement plans open to all
novations in transportation, communications, workers and small businesses and a regional
materials, bio-science, and medicine that can health care pool. modest federal encourage-
also refresh the economic base of the region. ment and policy flexibility could assist states
and encourage worker adaptability in today’s
the Great lakes watershed holds one-fifth economy;
of the world’s freshwater, a globally scarce re-
source. with outstanding natural amenities— • Clean up and protect the Great lakes and
waterfronts, lakes, rivers, and forests—america’s their environments. a study just released by
“north coast” can provide a special quality of life, leading national economists describes how
and afford an attractive, sustainable platform for federal follow-through on an already agreed
economic growth. upon $26 billion Great lakes restoration
strategy would create more than $80 billion
yes, many in this region are experiencing eco- in tangible economic benefits for the region
nomic dislocations and need new jobs. but the and nation. the plan would rebuildinfra-
answer is not to promise them their old jobs structures, open up waterfronts for develop-
back. rather it is to provide tangible help in cre- ment, increasing commercial and residential
ating, participating in, and winning in the global property values, enhance recreation and
economy. Specifically, any and all aspirants for tourism, and protect natural and scenic ar-
president, while they visit states like ohio 50 eas—all increasing the region’s attractiveness
times during the next year, should promise to: to new economy firms and workers.
• focus federal basic and applied research in taken together, these five federal policy proposals
areas of energy, sciences, and health through would do more to grow jobs and aid the transition
the innovation infrastructure of Great lakes of Great lakes region from industrial to knowl-
firms and research universities—who can edge economy leadership than mouthfuls of rheto-
develop and commercialize these technolo- ric about manufacturing czars and protecting the
gies-creating jobs in the region and solving middle class way of life from Chinese usurpation.
national economic challenges;
• Provide incentives to educate the scientists, ShiFting From “tAilpipe
engineers—and technologists we need to StAnDArDS” to “cAFÉ
compete with China and rising economies, StAnDArDS”
taking advantage of the Great lakes educa- By Jan Mazurek
tion infrastructure to help the nation com-
pete; when Congress reconvenes in September,
lawmakers likely will face off over what to
• Put in place a new, simple Gi-bill-like high- do about long stalled fuel economy standards
er education financing plan using largely ex- called Cafe (Corporate average fuel econ-
isting resources to pay for college and post- omy). the Senate-passed energy bill would
secondary training for both emerging and require car companies to build cars that get
incumbent workers-leveraging the Great 35 miles per gallon by 2020. the current stan-
lakes learning infrastructure, preparing the dard has been parked at 27.5 miles per gallon
talent needed for tomorrow; and helping for several decades.
but those efforts may well get caught up in limits. Companies with fleets that miss the mark
washington politics, scuttling an important part could buy credits from other sources (any com-
of the Democratic leadership’s valiant efforts to pany covered in the trading system, not just
tackle the issue of oil dependence and climate other automakers) or pay into a fund that could
change. in addition to keeping us hooked on be used to further spur innovation and jobs that
foreign oil, the u.S. transportation sector emits breakthroughs would bring. already, California
about one-third of the gases that cause climate carmaker tesla motors is building a new assem-
change. bly plant in new mexico for its zero emissions
electric sports sedan.
So rather than get involved in the same old
quagmire, the next president ought to embrace because of the profit motive it would create,
a third way. such a policy is far more likely to reduce both
oil consumption and air pollution than the long-
the best model is the approach taken in Cali- since-stalled Cafe system of miles-per-gallon
fornia, where government replaced the “miles standards. in fact, a tailpipe trading system with
per gallon” Cafe standard with a metric that no loopholes or exclusions for big Suvs could
instead measures carbon dioxide (Co2) emis- end up saving two million barrels of oil a day—
sions—“tailpipe standards.” roughly the amount that america imports from
the Persian Gulf.
adopting tailpipe standards would change the
equation for american car companies. market the Government accountability office (Gao)
forces would create incentives for them to de- reconfirmed those figures earlier this month,
velop fuel sipping cars that run on gasoline al- concluding that a carbon-based approach would
ternatives like advanced biofuels or electricity. “further fuel savings at less cost and could ad-
moreover, a tailpipe standard system could be dress a broader range of national goals, including
integrated into a national cap-and-trade system addressing climate change.”
for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases
that cause climate change. the european union So moving from a Cafe-focused system to a
has already adopted such a system. “tailpipe trading” system would empower the ad-
ministration to avoid the political quagmire that
as with national cap-and-trade proposals that has prevented washington from making progress
would cover energy producers, factories and oth- on climate change for much too long. in so do-
er big emitters, a tailpipe trading system would ing, a shift would pave the way for washington
give automakers a profit motive to produce cars to put a real dent in the nation’s oil consumption
and trucks that keep Co2 emissions under set as well as its carbon footprint.
Social policy in the 21st century should nurture the
upward aspirations of all families and ensure that
government provides citizens with the tools necessary
to secure a foothold in the middle class. In these pieces,
experts discuss ways to strengthen families and foster
the bonds of neighborhood and community.
the miDDle-clASS FlAt tAx not just that it’s complex, but that they know
By Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Reed the complexities are there because the game is
rigged. they’re right—just look again at the
for years, conservatives have pressed for a flat tax difference between the wealthiest americans’
that would tax every american at the same rate. tax bracket and the effective tax rate they ac-
while the idea is simple, it has two fatal flaws. tually pay. in theory, taxpayers with incomes
of $10 million or more are in the 35 percent
first, it would slap most americans with a whop- tax bracket. but according to the New York
ping tax increase. former Commerce undersec- Times survey, their average effective rate in
retary robert Shapiro estimates that to maintain 2003—thanks to an average tax cut from bush
current federal revenues, a flat tax would have of more than $1 million—was 22 percent. in
to be set at 21 percent. in order to maintain other words, the brackets themselves are a
the deductions for home mortgage interest and kind of tax fraud: what the wealthy actually
charitable contributions, that rate would rise to pay bears no relation to the higher rates a pro-
29 percent. Since about three-quarters of all tax- gressive society intended them to pay.
payers are in the 15 percent tax bracket, a con-
servative flat tax plan could double the tax bur- yet when Democrats set out to restore progres-
den for the already overburdened middle class. sivity and close those loopholes, republicans
block any action by pretending that asking the
Second, a flat tax would destroy a fundamen- wealthy to pay their share is a tax increase on
tal principle of our society—that those whom the middle class. the middle Class flat tax is
america has blessed the most should contrib- designed to bury that myth forever. under our
ute the most. for the past six years, the bush plan, Democrats and republicans in Congress
administration has turned that principle on its would agree to end this phony argument by
head and waged the most sustained assault on putting a cap on middle-class taxes. the prin-
progressivity in our nation’s history. in doing ciple is simple and fair: no middle-class fam-
so, bush has broken faith with the original te- ily with an income of under $100,000 should
nets of his own party. teddy roosevelt wasn’t ever have to pay an effective tax rate of more
waging class warfare when he supported a pro- than 10 percent. if the amount they owe after
gressive tax code at the beginning of the last calculating their taxes is more than 10 percent
century. Progressivity isn’t a Democratic idea, of their income, they won’t have to pay a dime
it’s an american one—and americans would above 10 percent. if what they owe is less than
never have gone along with a national income 10 percent, they’ll pay the lesser amount, and
tax without it. the middle Class flat tax will not apply.
a middle Class flat tax is completely different if republicans want to have a bidding war over
from the conservative approach. in the same how low to set the cap on the effective tax rate
way the alternative minimum tax is designed for the middle class, we’re happy to join in. as
to make sure the wealthiest pay their share, the long as we’re cutting taxes for ordinary families,
middle Class flat tax makes sure no middle- not the wealthy, the only limitation is what the
class family pays more than their share. nation can afford. but we doubt that republi-
cans will join us in this crusade because holding
Here’s how the idea works: as we’ve already down taxes for the middle class was never their
pointed out, the current tax system is stacked intent. their goal is just the opposite: to cut ev-
against the ordinary taxpayer. tax breaks go to ery tax the middle class doesn’t pay.
those who need them least, while people who
play by the rules get the shaft. what makes NOTE: The idea above was taken from the Plan:
americans most angry about the tax code is big ideas for america.
in tenneSSee, A FirSt first, affordability. we have designed a benefit
Step in ADDreSSing package that has a total cost on average of about
heAlth cAre coStS $150 a month with the premium split three
By Gov. Phil Bredesen ways between the state, the employer, and the
every person in america has felt the pinch when
it comes to health care and the costs associat- Second, portability. what i mean by that is sim-
ed with keeping themselves and their families ple: the individual, not the employer or the gov-
healthy. ernment, owns his or her own policy. if you sign
up for Cover tennessee through your job at a
that pinch may be felt in the cost of premiums small business and you get laid off, you can take
subtracted from your paycheck or in the frus- the policy with you. this proposal represents a
trating process of attempting to secure affordable fundamental rethinking of the way health insur-
insurance when your company doesn’t offer it or ance works. Health insurance should follow the
the basic inability to pay for coverage even if you individual.
have access in the first place.
to implement Cover tennessee, we have looked
we’ve felt the pinch in tennessee, and we’re not to the private sector. Small businesses and their
alone. the skyrocketing cost of health care is a employees are the heart of our economy and
national problem that deserves a national solu- they can be at the heart of our solution to this
tion. unfortunately, that day—when america problem. we are partnering with small busi-
comes together to address the issue of health care nesses to extend access to health care to working
costs from a national perspective—has not yet uninsured tennesseans. we have used competi-
arrived. tion and the strength of the marketplace to our
advantage to get the best coverage we can buy for
but as governor of tennessee, i cannot in good these tennesseans.
conscience stand by and wait for the folks in
washington to act on a problem that today Cover tennessee passed in both chambers of
impacts the lives and livelihood of every hard- the General assembly with broad bipartisan
working man and woman in america. that’s support. Health care is not a Democratic is-
why, last year, i presented to the General sue or a republican issue, it is an american
assembly a plan for what we can do here in issue. through Cover tennessee, we’re offer-
tennessee to offer a helping hand to our cit- ing hardworking tennesseans a hand up, not
izens—folks who work for modest wages, for a handout.
small businesses, for themselves.
are these plans perfect? Do they cover every con-
Cover tennessee, is a modern, fiscally cautious, tingency? will they answer every need? no. but
down-to-earth approach. it’s not the “end-all, is this a lot better than what is happening now?
be-all” solution to our problem. it is not another Does it help a great many people who truly need
big government entitlement program. it is not the help? is it a foundation we can build upon?
tennCare part 2. what it is instead is a starting absolutely, yes.
point that, if we’re successful, will allow us to
grow step-by-step in a fiscally responsible way. it comes back to personal responsibility—we
don’t have it in our power to promise everyone
Cover tennessee, at its most basic, is a partner- free health insurance without limits. but we do
ship between the state, individuals, and small have it in our power to offer them access to af-
business that is rooted in two core principles: af- fordable and portable health insurance, and then
fordability and portability. the choice is theirs.
there are millions of hard working uninsured eSi tax subsidy more sensibly? in a recent pre-
adults, uninsured children, and uninsurable sentation at the Hamilton Project, i presented a
adults who need our help now. we have the op- plan that would replace the eSi tax subsidy with
portunity and the means to help them. it is time a plan for universal coverage. this plan would
for us to act. set up new purchasing pools so that all individu-
als could gain insurance on a fair basis even if
it was not available from their employers. i find
uniVerSAl coVerAge For that such a plan could provide universal coverage
Free: tAKing on the hiDDen with over $70 billion in extra funds per year.
SuBSiDy to employer Spon-
SoreD inSurAnce of course, such a plan would produce winners
By Jonathan Gruber and losers. the winners would be primarily those
with incomes below two times the federal poverty
Quick, name the third largest health spending line or families with incomes below $40,000. the
program in the u.S. (and the second largest for losers would be those with incomes above three
the federal government). Give up? it is the tax times the poverty line or families with incomes
subsidy to employer-sponsored insurance (eSi). above $60,000. yet we could readily use the extra
every dollar i take home in cash wages from $70 billion per year raised through this proposal
mit is taxed at a marginal rate of more than 40 to offset losses to the middle class. Doing so, we
percent. yet if mit compensates me in the form could turn the eSi subsidy into a plan that (a)
of eSi coverage instead, i am not taxed at all. provides universal coverage for all americans, (b)
the amount of foregone revenue to the federal is a net gain for those below five times the pov-
government alone from this tax break is more erty line (below $100,000 for families), and (c)
than $220 billion per year. requires no net increase in federal or state revenue
besides using up an enormous amount of po-
tential federal resources, this tax break has two Such a plan would require bold vision and the
other unattractive features. first, it is highly re- willingness to take on a well entrenched tax
gressive: the higher your tax rate, the bigger the break. Candidates may want to start small with
tax break, so higher income individuals benefit limitations on the eSi tax subsidy (such as those
more than lower income individuals. Second, it proposed by President bush’s own tax policy
causes individuals to purchase excessively gener- panel). but in this age of fiscal limitations, if we
ous insurance, since they are buying it with 60 really want to move forward on universal cover-
cent dollars. age for the 46 million uninsured americans, it is
time to take on the enormous hidden subsidy to
President bush has proposed replacing the eSi employer-sponsored insurance.
tax subsidy with a flat individual deduction
amount of $15,000 per family. this proposal
takes one step forward in that there would no reVerSing the BAcKSliDe on
longer be a subsidy to excessively generous in- teen BirthS
surance, but two steps backwards in that the tax By Will Marshall
subsidy would continue to be highly regressive.
the proposal would do little to cover the un- Jamie lynn Spears, britney’s kid sister and nick-
insured, half of whom don’t even pay taxes so elodeon star, is pregnant at 16. it’s tempting to
wouldn’t benefit from a deduction. dismiss the news as mere tabloid fodder, except
that it happens to coincide with a truly disturb-
but what if Democrats took him up on the chal- ing trend: u.S. teenagers are having more babies
lenge and used the money from replacing the again.
the rising teen birth rate is a portent of growing President Clinton’s stress on work, personal re-
poverty and social disorder in america. revers- sponsibility, and limits on welfare contributed to
ing it must be among the next president’s top the sharp reduction (35 percent) in teen births
social priorities. since the early 1990s. welfare reform sent a clear
message to young girls: don’t count on indefi-
that will require moving beyond the polarizing nite public assistance if you drop out of school
teen sexuality debates that have marked the bush and have a baby. Parallel steps to toughen child
years. our country needs new approaches based enforcement likewise signaled to daddies that
not on ideological or moral preconceptions, but henceforth it would be harder to evade their pa-
on what actually works to reduce teen pregnancy rental responsibilities.
Such social cues are critical, because births to teen
the national Center for Health Statistics report- mothers trigger and sustain the cycle of welfare
ed last month that the birth rate for girls aged dependency, crime and intergenerational poverty
15-19 increased three percent between 2005 and in america. Children growing up in lone-parent
2006, the first such increase in 15 years. the families are six times more likely to be poor than
bad news triggered a Pavlovian frenzy of finger- those in two-parent families. they are also more
pointing by washington pressure groups. likely to drop out of school, run afoul of the law,
and become unwed mothers themselves.
liberal activists and think tanks pounced quickly,
citing the figures as proof that abstinence-only ed- the next president can forge a new political con-
ucation programs, which President bush and the sensus for tackling teen pregnancy by embracing
religious right have championed, aren’t working. two key reforms. first, public programs ought
Conservatives duly fired back, blaming liberals’ to stress “abstinence first,” not “abstinence only.”
alleged preference for value-neutral sex education abstinence is the right message for very young
and contraceptives. but this “no-sex-versus-safe- teens, and a wise choice for many older ones as
sex” debate obscures a few pertinent facts. well. in some religious communities, it might be
the only acceptable way to broach the delicate
first, people who closely study such trends, like subject of teen sexuality. nonetheless, nearly half
the experts at the national Campaign to Prevent of u.S. high school students say they have had
teen and unplanned Pregnancy, admit that they sex. more complete sex education, including
don’t know why the increase occurred. Data strong encouragement for teens to delay sex and
on teen sexual activity, contraceptive use, preg- honest and accurate counseling and information
nancy, and abortion aren’t yet available. Second, on contraception and sexually transmitted dis-
there’s scant evidence that programs of any kind eases, must be available to all who want it. Con-
have a big impact on teen pregnancy and births, gressional Democrats have introduced a slew of
for good or ill. Campaign officials say pop cul- bills to fund such classroom efforts (many of
ture images that bombard u.S. teens 24/7 likely which also include education on abstinence) as
dwarf public policy. well as community-based programs that engage
young people in constructive behavior.
nonetheless, research suggests that a limited
number of programs do strengthen communi- Second, washington should fund what works, not
ty-based efforts to prevent or delay sex and im- what professional advocates on either side want.
prove contraceptive use among sexually active rather than favoring one approach over the other,
teens. what may be more important, changes as the bush administration unfortunately did, the
in law and public policy can strongly reinforce next president should ask Congress to put all the
(or weaken) cultural norms that affect individ- money for abstinence, sex education, and relat-
ual behavior. for example, some analysts believe ed services into one pot. States could apply for
“challenge grants” to fund programs that have a ference report which included additional
measurable impact on rates of teen pregnancy and unpaid family medical leave for the families
child birth. one example is the widely-replicated of american soldiers. this plan, originally
teen outreach Program, which enrolls youth in sponsored by Sens. Chris Dodd and Hillary
community service projects. Clinton will give families of wounded military
personnel up to six months of unpaid leave to
this approach would allow states to make choic- care for their loved ones. at a time when mili-
es about the programs that best suit local con- tary families have exhibited great sacrifice and
ditions and mores. but those choices would be undertaken tremendous amounts of stress,
constrained by a rigorous empiricism that gives this law is a necessary next step in fmla im-
americans greater confidence that their taxes are provement.
being used to actually solve the nation’s prob-
lems, not advance the goals of one set of cultural yet there is still more to do. as leaders reflect
warriors over another. on the 15th anniversary of fmla, they must
also renew their commitment to expanding
the law so that all americans can have access
expAnDing the FAmily AnD to family leave time. the Progressive Policy
meDicAl leAVe Act institute (PPi) has been a consistent cham-
By Katie Campbell pion for strong work-family balance policies.
in the paper, Flexible Work for Strong Families,
recently, the family medical leave act PPi outlines a progressive agenda for flexible
(fmla), a law that has given millions ameri- work and leave. Policy actions include the cre-
cans the ability to take unpaid time to care for ation of:
loved ones or recover from their own serious ill-
ness without fear of losing their job, celebrated • a “3-6-12” system of guaranteed leave. this
its 15th anniversary. after eight years of moving new leave plan would give all workers a com-
through Congress and two presidential vetoes, bination of paid and unpaid leave, includ-
on february 5, 1993, President bill Clinton ful- ing three days of unpaid, short-term leave
filled his campaign promise and signed fmla per year to be used for essential personal and
into law—the first bill he signed as president. family business such a as parent-teacher con-
ferences and doctors’ visits; six weeks of paid
under the current law, employees who have for the birth or adoption of a new child or for
worked for 12 months and put in at least 1,250 serious health crises in the immediate family;
hours at their job can take up to 12 weeks of and 12 weeks of unpaid leave under flma
unpaid leave to care for a sick family member, for millions more workers, by requiring com-
care for a newborn or newly adopted baby, or panies with more than 25 more employees to
recover from their own illness. in the 15 years comply with the law.
since the enactment of fmla, more than 50
million people have taken advantage of this • a right to request flexibility. beyond provi-
opportunity. However, only workers whose sions to allow leave from work for special
company employs more than 50 people are family circumstances, a “right to request
eligible for the leave. because of these restric- flexibility” benefit would help parents ar-
tions, fmla is only available for 45 percent range their everyday work lives in a way that
of people in the private sector. balances work and family obligations. with-
in reason, parents should be able to request
this January marked the first-ever expansion flexible schedules, and the burden should be
of fmla when President bush signed the on the employer to show why they cannot
Department of Defense authorization Con- accommodate those requests.
• “Homework” tax credit for telecommuters. wages and a widening income gap, americans
this tax credit would help parents and oth- find themselves more vulnerable to financial
ers who work from home because they are hardships during retirement.
caring for a family member by offsetting the
cost of telecommuting-related expenses like the statistics are startling. only 55 percent of full-
computers, software for sharing and secur- time american workers hold a job with a retire-
ing business data online, printers, fax ma- ment savings plan. of those who are offered a sav-
chines, and other necessary equipment. ings plan, one-quarter turn them down. according
to u.S. bureau of economic analysis, america has
• “working families 2020” project. the es- witnessed a declining savings rate since 2000, with
tablishment of this joint entity would bring a negative savings rate for 2005—the first negative
together the public and private sectors, non- rate since the Great Depression.
profits, union, and faith-based organiza-
tions, to share ideas and resources and pro- Saving for retirement is especially difficult for
mote best practices. low- and middle-income families that have little
discretional income. and government incentives
Progressive family leave helps american workers to promote savings, most often in the form of
become more productive on the job and more re- tax credits, are typically directed to higher in-
sponsible at home. thankfully, both Democratic come families—those that are least likely need
candidates Hillary Clinton and barack obama an extra push to prepare for the future.
have outlined bold work-family agendas. it took
15 years to expand fmla. let’s hope that the in order to address this problem, Congress enact-
next president follows in the Democratic tradi- ed the Saver’s Credit in 2001 as part of the bush
tion of bill Clinton and makes work-family bal- administration’s tax cut legislation. middle- and
ance a priority of his or her administration. no low-income families those who make less than
american should have to choose between their $50,000 per year can receive a nonrefundable
paycheck and their family. tax credit if they make voluntary contributions
to retirement savings accounts such as a 401(k),
ira or other employer-sponsored plans.
For WorKing FAmilieS Credits apply to retirement savings of up to $2,000
to SAVe per year and their rates decline as household in-
By Katie Campbell come rises.
Married Individuals Saver’s Credit
Just a generation ago, americans rested easy Filing Head of and Married Rate (percent of
Jointly Households Filing Separately contribution)
knowing that if they worked hard and followed
$0–30,000 $0–22,500 $0–15,500 50
the rules they could count on a secure retirement. $30,001– $22,501– $15,501–
today thoughts of retirement no longer center on 32,500 24,375 16,250 20
$32,501– $24,376– $16,251–
new hobbies and extra time with grandchildren. 50,000 37,500 25,000 10
instead, long term financial planning causes great
stress and angst for most american workers. even though the Saver’s Credit is targeted to
middle- and low-income families, very few
the days of working 40 years at one company people who fall in the required income range ac-
and retiring with a pension and a gold watch are tually receive any benefits because the credit is
over. workers are now more likely to have mul- non-refundable. therefore, people with no tax
tiple jobs over the course of a working lifetime liability—meaning they don’t earn enough to
and companies have moved away from defined pay federal income taxes—cannot take advan-
benefit plans. Coupled with decreased average tage of this savings incentive.
according to an urban institute-brookings will help extend the american Dream to every-
institution tax Policy Center report, of the one, regardless of income.
american’s that make $50,000 or less per year,
only 14 percent could receive any benefits
from contributing to a retirement account. al- extenD FAmily
ternatively, 86 percent who qualify get noth- AnD meDicAl leAVe
ing. furthermore, the report notes that only By Jason Newman
0.1 percent of filers meet the income criteria
to receive the full credit if they contribute the recently, Sen. Hillary Clinton unveiled her
$2,000 maximum amount to a retirement ac- proposal to help parents balance work and fam-
count. ily though an expansion of the family medical
leave act (fmla) to cover an additional 13
in order better increase savings among low- and million workers and guarantee at least 7 paid
moderate-income families, the Saver’s Credit sick days per year for every worker.
should be updated. Specifically the next presi-
dent and Congress should: fifteen years ago, naysayers argued that family and
medical leave would place the entire u.S. econo-
• make the credit refundable. a refundable my at a competitive disadvantage. most employ-
Saver’s Credit would remove the income ers, however, found that the original family and
floor that the nonrefundable credit sets. medical leave law passed in 1993 has turned
families who make less than $50,000 per out to be a pro-business policy. a families and
year, contribute to a savings account, but work institute study conducted five years after
make too little to pay income taxes should the federal law went into effect found that 84
not be penalized. percent of employers concluded that the benefits
of providing family and medical leave offset or
• Create a 50 percent match for all incomes outweighed the costs. in fact, many businesses
below $50,000. the progressive structure of noted reduced employee turnover, enhanced
the current Saver’s Credit (matching rates productivity, and improved morale.
fall as incomes rise) is opposite from most
other tax incentives that subsidize savings. Sen. Clinton’s proposals include many of the
in order to simplify the credit and create same ideas outlined in two recent papers pub-
greater fairness, all families that make less lished by the DlC and PPi—michele Stock-
than $50,000 should receive a 50 percent well’s “flexible work for Strong familie” and
matching contribution on all retirement my “Helping mothers Succeed.” Clinton’s
savings up to $2,000 per year. agenda calls for expanding the fmla to cover
employers with 25 workers (the current law
• make the Saver’s Credit permanent. with covers employers with 50 or more workers);
the above modifications, the credit can cre- making the federal government a paid family
ate a new population of savers. therefore the leave model; guaranteeing all workers access
Saver’s Credit should be made permanent so to sick days; empowering workers to request
that it is not used as a political bargaining workplace flexibility like changing their hours
chip every time it is up for renewal. or telecommuting; improving access to high
quality child care by, among other things,
as it stands now, the Saver’s Credit is no more promoting quality rating systems currently in
than a benefit in name only. with these changes, place in several states; and giving every parent
the credit will actually benefit the targeted popu- a real choice about whether to stay home and
lation and provide greater incentives for families care for their children full time or work out-
to save for retirement. a modified Saver’s Credit side the home.
one of the key provisions in Sen. Clinton’s agen- visions that states should consider. minnesota’s
da is her proposal for a State family leave in- family and medical leave law allows an employ-
novation fund, which would commit $1 billion ee to use his or her personal sick leave benefits
to support state level parental leave programs to attend to a child for a reasonable amount of
through competitive matching grants to help time. in addition, minnesota requires all pub-
cover start-up costs and program expenditures. lic employers and private employers with 21
the fund will not dictate what approach each or more employees to grant an employee leave
state would take, but will support various ap- of up to a total of 16 hours each year to attend
proaches to providing leave. school conferences or school-related activities
of their children. both of these provisions give
States have begun experimenting with a variety parents the ability to balance two critical roles
of approaches to expand on the fmla. in fact, in their lives and succeed as both parents and
two states—California and washington—have employees.
already passed paid family leave laws. but state
efforts need to be expanded to help improve Some states have decided to target their family
leave for working families, and Clinton’s pro- leave policy to the critical first year of a child’s
posed fund will help jump start the innovation life. at least three states (minnesota, montana,
in the states. as states begin experimenting, they and new mexico) have experimented with at-
would be wise to look at states like California Home infant Care (aHiC) programs provide
and washington as models for progress. partial wage replacement to low-income, work-
ing parents who choose to have one parent stay
in 2002, then-California Gov. Gray Davis and home for the first year of a child’s life. these pro-
the state legislature took into account both the grams are typically limited to employed parents
high costs workers face to support a family and and have time limits, generally between 12 and
the market competition that business owners 24 months during the lifetime of the recipient.
face and crafted an employee-financed family
leave system. this pro-family, pro-business law as policymakers in many other states consider
established the family temporary Disability in- similar legislation, they would be wise to analyze
surance (ftDi) system, which uses the state’s California’s fair and fiscally responsible model for
current disability insurance system to expand providing workers the tools they need to excel as
paid coverage to workers, most of whom will workers and family caregivers. and Sen. Clin-
receive about 55 percent of their salary for six ton’s proposal for a State family leave innova-
weeks of leave. overall, paid family and medi- tion fund will assist states in making important
cal leave has enhanced the quality of family and progress in this area.
work life for all Californians.
this year, washington became the second state uniVerSAl SAVingS AccountS
to enact paid family leave legislation. this new to Supplement SociAl
insurance program is slated to begin in october Security
2009 and will offer new parents up to 5 weeks By Rep. Rahm Emanuel
of leave time per year. individuals who work 35
hours per week or more will receive a weekly today, many americans are saving less than they
benefit of $250 during their leave time. those once did. and with the baby boomers about to
who work less will receive a prorated benefit. begin retiring, we cannot afford to ignore that
this is not a nation of savers.
while California and washington have taken
the most significant strides on family and medi- in the past two years, america’s personal savings
cal leave, several other states have passed key pro- rate reached its lowest level since the Great De-
pression. in comparison to other industrialized of Social Security. and it’s true that an accounts-
countries, the united States ranked second to based system that supplements, not supplants,
last in personal savings. Social Security is feasible. Democrats have argued
that 401(k)s and personal savings are impor-
Saving benefits the entire economy. an increase tant supplements to Social Security, but that
in savings enlarges the pool of capital available fees should be kept low so that lower-income
for businesses to invest, create jobs and improve americans should enjoy the same opportunity
our standard of living. to save as upper-income americans. we can
make that happen.
an estimated 75 million working americans—
nearly half the work force—lack access to an Here’s how: building on the principles of per-
employer-sponsored savings plan that helps put sonal accounts, universal savings and the desire
away money for retirement. at the same time, for simplicity, we should create “universal Sav-
too many who have access to a savings plan con- ings accounts” to supplement Social Security.
tribute too little, don’t participate at all, or start employers and employees would contribute 1
saving too late. while the typical american be- percent of paychecks on a tax-deductible basis.
gins working at age 22, most do not participate additional contributions could be made to the
in an employer savings plan until age 41. accounts at individual worker’s or company’s dis-
over the past 30 years, we have offered a bliz-
zard of tax initiatives to encourage individuals to ensure low management fees, these ac-
to save for their retirement, including spending counts would be managed by the private
$125 billion in tax subsidies last year to encour- sector but overseen by a quasi-public board
age retirement savings. Still, the national savings with fiduciary responsibility for the types of
rate has plummeted. investment options that workers could select.
this system is used by the successful feder-
in the last Congress, i proposed legislation that al 401(k) program, or thrift Savings Plan,
took a different approach by helping compa- where the annual management fees have av-
nies automatically enroll employees in their eraged 30 cents for every $1,000 invested.
401(k) plans, rather than relying on workers to with this approach, americans will know
fill out the necessary forms to participate. ac- that money put away for retirement will be
cording to a recent survey conducted by Hewitt available for retirement.
associates, the newly enacted Pension Protec-
tion act of 2006 will incentivize roughly half to achieve universal participation and simplic-
of all companies offering a 401(k) or similar ity, employers would automatically enroll their
plan to enroll new employees automatically. if employees in these accounts but allow employ-
we make saving simple by limiting the amount ees to opt out. individuals could increase the
of time, effort and decisions that people have to amount they save, but their decisions would be
make, we can dramatically increase the number age-appropriate because investments would be
of people who save. made in so-called “lifecycle funds.”
but in addition to making saving easy, saving additionally, we should strengthen the Saver’s
should also be universal. Credit—a federal tax credit that matches sav-
ings put into retirement accounts—to provide
Democrats and republicans have approached these an additional incentive for low-income workers
goals in different ways, and its time to combine to participate.
the best of both parties’ ideas. republicans have
long advanced the idea of personal accounts inside this approach protects the sanctity of the So-
cial Security system, and ensures that it will re- the poor have had the good news preached to
main a solid foundation for retirement. but it them.
expands individual savings opportunities out-
side of Social Security to provide all working Jesus’ response to John underscores the quality
americans an easy way to make their retire- of life issues that he addressed through his minis-
ment more secure. try. for him, to be alive was not enough—he was
concerned about the quality of life.
NOTE: A lengthier version of this idea was pub-
lished in the wall Street Journal. the right’s narrow definition of life explains how
George w. bush could veto SCHiP—a bill that
would literally assure a better physical quality of
BuilDing A BriDge to the life of millions of american children—with such
FAith community impunity.
By Matthew Watley
apparently the theology of the right applies to
the 2000 election saw George w. bush repack- medical coverage only where life exists in grey
age the republican Party with the wrapping pa- areas.
per of family values, and tie a bow around the
phrase “compassionate conservative.” the presi- it is not that i think the right is all wrong. i think
dent’s veto of SCHiP saw the last of that wrap- that on abortion there is legitimacy for the spiri-
ping paper removed, and the ribbon untied to tual origin of life—science not withstanding.
reveal the real package of empty promises, un- However, to allow their boy bush to leave chil-
funded mandates, and the enormous influence dren behind both educationally and medically
of a few special interests. seems to endorse abandonment while standing
against abortion. in my view, the former is as
bush’s veto brings into stark relief the ethical and morally reprehensible as the latter and makes the
theological problems facing the religious right, right and its position more fanatical because of
which so ardently supported him. it would ap- its inconsistency.
pear that the religious right only becomes ener-
gized about policy issues that effect “life in the if the right would advocate as powerfully for
abstract.” abortion, stem cell research, and eu- quality of life issues as it does for the right of
thanasia are all hallmark values issues because life, it might win more adherents—or at least al-
each is grounded in a claim of biblical support low itself a better hearing to those who are more
for “life” no matter how unsustainable, incom- open-minded.
plete, or incapacitated it may be.
the irony is that as wrong as the right may
this myopic definition of life is amazing, in that be, the left may have trouble gaining ground
it does not recognize the biblical and ethical within the religious community, in that some
mandates for “quality of life.” have already vowed fidelity to gay marriage,
and others adhere to the most stringent appli-
in luke the 7th Chapter John the baptist is im- cation of the separation of church. these posi-
prisoned and sends his disciples to ask Jesus one tions signal loudly to many of us—including
question: “are you the one or should we look for those whose religious views inform our per-
another.” spectives on public life—that some on the left
don’t think that we are right.
Jesus’ response is to recount for John what they
have seen and heard: the blind receiving sight; the this is regrettable, because i believe that the “qual-
deaf their hearing; the lame the ability to walk. ity of life” position is obviously Christian, and is
easily applied to issues of health care, education, birth weight, infant death, blindness, deaf-
housing, and employment. each could have great ness, chronic respiratory problems, mental
traction with electorates predisposed to vote red. retardation, and hyperactivity.
the left has a long track record of being right • Children of teen mothers are more likely to
on these issues, but that message is never heard suffer abuse and neglect.
because controversial issues frequently stop up
Christian ears. • Children of teen mothers are 50 percent
more likely to repeat a grade and less likely
if the Democratic Party is to make inroads into to finish high school.
the faith community, it must be willing to put all
issues and options on the table that. building an • teens who have babies are less likely to grad-
agenda around “quality of life” issues, also known uate from high school than those who delay
as the social gospel, has proven successful. childbearing.
now in full election ‘08 mode, with the right be- • teen mothers are more likely to end up on
ing wrong, and some on the left standing mute, welfare—52 percent of all moms on welfare
the religious community continues to raise the had their first child during their teenage
question of the candidates that John asked Jesus years.
“are you the one or should we look for another?”
• Sons of teenage mothers are 13 percent more
likely to end up in prison than the sons of
comBAting teen mothers who delayed childbearing.
By Katie Campbell • Daughters of teenage mothers are more like-
ly end up as teen parents.
the Centers for Disease control recently report-
ed that, for first time since 1991, the birth rate even before the 2006 increase, the u.S. teen-
among teenagers has risen. During 2006, the age birth rate was higher than that of any other
number of births among women ages 15 to 19 industrialized country. and according to the
rose by 3 percent to 41.9 live births per 1,000, national Campaign to Prevent teen Pregnancy,
with the most dramatic increases among afri- nearly four in 10 girls get pregnant once before
can-american teens whose birth rate climbed 5 the age of 20. yet, the government spends $176
percent from the previous year. million per year on programs to prevent preg-
nancies among young women, raising questions
teen childbearing hurts the young moms, their about the effectiveness of the bush administra-
new babies, and the country as a whole. Consid- tion’s abstinence-only sexual education efforts.
er these alarming facts from the national Cam-
paign to Prevent teen Pregnancy: a recent comprehensive study by mathmatica
Policy research, inc showed that teens who
• teenage childbearing costs the government participated abstinence-only programs were no
at least $7 billion each year in costs associ- more likely than those not in the programs to
ated with health care, foster care, public as- delay sexual initiation, have fewer sexual part-
sistance, criminal justice, and lost tax rev- ners or abstain from sex entirely. while this one
enues. study may not completely discount the merits of
abstinence-based education, it warrants the be-
• Children born to teen mothers are more ginning of a discussion of how to best encourage
likely to have health problems including low young people to delay childbearing, through a
mix of responsible sexual education and absti- that is not surprising given our disjointed sys-
nence-based messaging. tem. the quality of care varies dramatically
between doctors and hospitals, but those dif-
thankfully, the three current Democratic presi- ferences are invisible to patients. our payment
dential hopefuls have made reducing teenage system rewards quantity over quality and fixing
pregnancy one of their top priorities. During her problems over prevention. the lack of standard-
husband’s administration, Hillary Clinton helped ized performance measures makes it impossible
launched the national Campaign to Prevent teen to know which providers are doing a good job,
Pregnancy, which successfully reduced teen births and those who are not. Cost differences are also
by one-third between 1996 and 2005. She has largely invisible to patients. Hence, consumers
pledged to continue her work to break the cycle of lack information to make the choices that are
teen pregnancy if elected president. this summer, right for them.
barack obama introduced the Communities of
Color teen Pregnancy Prevention act of 2007, How do you fix this non-system? the starting
which would prevent teen pregnancies in minor- point is coverage, as it should be. we should seek
ity communities. and John edwards has made to cover all americans so they can get the care they
fighting teen pregnancy one of the cornerstones need. but without ensuring quality care, access to
of his anti-poverty solutions. care may be meaningless or even dangerous. and
without addressing runaway costs and inefficien-
in november 2008, america will go to the vot- cies, universal coverage will be unsustainable. by
ing booth to elect the next president. we must building health care value into state and national
demand that he or she make reversing this trou- reform measures, we can ensure that americans
bling trend a national priority. get what they deserve—the right care at the right
time at a fair price.
BuilD heAlth cAre VAlue Here are the toplines on the value agenda:
By Peter Lee and Debra Ness
Measure Care to Understand Performance
nearly every major presidential candidate has a The problem: we know there is huge variation
proposal to “reform” the health care system. to in the quality of health care, but we don’t know
date, the campaigns have focused principally on who is or isn’t delivering the right care at the
coverage and cost. that is as it should be: Get- right time. without better information, provid-
ting coverage for everyone is job one. but some ers cannot improve their performance and con-
candidates have gone a step further and begun sumers cannot make better choices.
to broaden the debate to include value—the
price we pay for the quality of health care we The solution: Create a transparent health care
receive. every candidate should join this broader system. this begins with robust collection of
debate. data on the quality, cost, and patient’s views
of care delivered by doctors, medical groups,
americans believe in value—most shop to get the hospitals, nursing homes, and other providers.
best quality possible for their money. nonethe- once we have quality data, we must present it
less, we are not getting good value for our health in a way that allows for easy and fair compari-
care dollars. as a nation we spend far more on sons. this means using standardized measures
health care per capita than any other country in where they exist and developing measures that
the world—$6,697 for every man, woman, and can become standards where they do not. final-
child in 2005. yet, the united States ranked 37th ly, the information must flow back to providers
out of 191 countries in providing quality care on so they can improve care and to consumers so
the last world Health organization assessment. they can make choices.
Reward Providers for Doing a Better Job sult, we encourage unnecessary care provided in
The problem: our health care system pays provid- a high-cost, poor-quality environment. without
ers for the number of treatments and procedures making changes in the “systems” of care—both
they provide and pays more for using expensive easy-to-implement and more complex improve-
technology or surgical interventions. it is not de- ments—we will continue to squander precious
signed to reward better quality or to support care resources.
coordination or prevention.
The Solution: Create a health care system that de-
The solution: Design a payment system that re- livers the right care at the right time in the right
wards providers for giving the right care at the right setting. Health care is a team sport that starts
time. Public and private payers—health plans, with the doctor-patient relationship. we should
medicaid, and medicare—should use common compensate doctors and other medical profes-
measures to assess provider performance. Provid- sionals for spending time with patients helping
ers who deliver high-quality, cost effective care or them learn to manage their own health and care.
who improve significantly should be rewarded. Health professionals such as nurses, physician
this must include adequate compensation for assistants, nutritionists and dietitians should be
preventive care, time spent coaching patients and able to provide more care for which they are ap-
coordinating care for those with chronic condi- propriately trained.
tions. finally, payment should be linked to the to-
tal package of treatments necessary for a medical Reduce Disparities in Quality of Care
condition, rather than paying separately for each The Problem: People of color, limited english
procedure or element of treatment. speakers, and poor people often receive lower
quality health care, even when they have the
Adopt Health Information Technology same health care coverage as other populations.
The Problem: Doctors, hospitals, and other pro-
viders still rely on paper to record and transfer in- The solution: ensure our health care system pro-
formation, making care delivery slower, more er- vides high-quality care for everyone. our mea-
ror-prone, and harder to measure and coordinate surement and reporting of quality of care infor-
than it should be. additionally, patients are not mation must allow us to identify and address
regularly given written information about their disparities. we should help doctors and clinics
care and treatment, making it difficult for them that treat low-income or underserved popula-
to remember and manage their care effectively. tions invest in health care technology.
The solution: encourage the rapid adoption of as the debate on how best to reform our broken
health information technology. we can start by health care system continues, many can agree
rewarding implementation of health technology that the current system covers too few, costs too
through pay-for-performance initiatives and by much, and does not deliver consistently high-
reimbursing providers for electronic consulta- quality care. we need to make sure the reform
tions with patients. our goal should be to ensure discussion addresses how to ensure patients
that both providers and patients have easy access receive quality, affordable care. without ensur-
to a patient’s complete medical history. ing quality, access to care may be meaningless.
without addressing costs, care becomes inac-
Reengineer How We Deliver Health Care cessible. by building health care value into re-
The Problem: our current health care system uses form strategies, we can ensure that americans
outdated methods to deliver care, and as a re- get the right care at the right time.
Too many Americans are working full time but living
below the poverty line. Government can make a
difference when policy makers ensure that work is the
organizing principle of anti-poverty policies. In the
essays that follow, three experts discuss a new direction
for social justice—one that promotes the self-directed
building of wealth by newly empowered individuals
and their communities.
expAnD the eitc consecutive years of real wage growth, a reduction
By Harold Ford, Jr. in unemployment from 7.5 percent in 1992 to
4.3 percent in 2000, and between 1993 and 2000
as the Presidential campaign season heats up it’s the number of people on welfare fell 60 percent—
worth considering not only who to vote for, but from 14.1 million to 5.6 million.
what the goals of our nation should be. Here’s
one goal that both parties should pursue: mak- Driving bipartisan support for the eitC is its
ing the american dream more real for working incredible effectiveness in raising working fami-
poor people. recent economic data shows many lies out of poverty. extensive research has been
americans are working full time but living below conducted on the program over the years, and
or barely above the poverty line. that’s unaccept- the positive effects are a testament to the power
able, particularly because there’s an effective, bi- of thoughtful public policy. according to the
partisan tax policy that can help make sure work brookings institution, the eitC lifted nearly
in america pays. four and a half million low-income people out
of poverty, including more than 2 million chil-
according to the Census, more than 36 mil- dren. the number of single women with chil-
lion americans are poor. that includes nearly 8 dren participating in the workforce has increased
million american families who lived in poverty dramatically since 1980 because of the eitC. it
last year. even with an increase in the minimum has also encouraged asset building among low-
wage to a future rate above $7, many working income families, so that that they can reduce
parents with children will still be living below their dependence on government benefits, go to
the official poverty line. the official poverty line college, move to better neighborhoods, and put
for a family of four is about $20,000—a full- money into savings.
time worker needs to make about $10 an hour
to earn $20,000. Despite the successes of the eitC, there is still a
need to help those who are working but unable
it shouldn’t be a political statement to say that to make ends meet in this country. we can start
every american who works full-time should live to fix this problem by filling some of the gaps in
above the poverty line. we have a powerful tool the eitC. for instance, the eitC does not help
to help make this economic imperative a real- families meet the costs of raising more than two
ity—the earned income tax Credit, or eitC. children. it also does not cover childless work-
this program is designed to reward individuals ers, or those younger than 25. there’s more. at
who are working to support their families. only a minimum, we should double the tax credit for
those with children are eligible, and there are de- childless workers to the same level as families
fined income caps to the program. with one child. adding $3 billion to pay for the
expansion of the most effective anti-poverty pro-
the eitC may be among the biggest bipartisan gram in america is one of the best investments
success stories in this nation’s history. it was en- taxpayers could make.
acted by President ford in 1975. over the next
twenty years, expanding the eitC was seen by the recent, and long overdue, minimum wage
members of both parties as a powerful way to increase was a sometimes harsh partisan fight.
encourage people to leave the welfare rolls while However many economists from both sides of
still honoring our commitment to help families in the political spectrum feel that the minimum
poverty. President reagan championed it during wage and the eitC work in synergy. where
his term in office, and President Clinton made the the minimum wage is weakest, such as target-
eitC a cornerstone of his pledge to “make work ing those who need it most like those with fami-
pay.” the expansion of the eitC under President lies, the eitC is strong. we have taken the first
Clinton not only reduced poverty, it led to five step to rebuilding our end of the bargain with
low-income working families by increasing the ness program that brought targeted financial,
minimum wage. that was the hard step politi- marketing and business process expertise to new
cally. if we want to truly ensure that work pays in and established businesses in Harlem. i saw first-
america, enhancing the eitC should offer a less hand how small businesses can grow and employ
rancorous policy discussion that will have enor- others. but i also saw limitations. the intensive
mously positive impact. Despite our many po- one-on-one counseling we provided with the as-
litical differences, we should all be able to agree sistance of booz allen Hamilton and nyu Stern
to make our nation stronger with a program that School is difficult to replicate—and in turn, these
honors work, rewards ambition, and empowers small businesses have natural growth constraints.
families to succeed. of course it was a great experience for me and
others to stabilize and grow small businesses in
the purpose of politics is not to win or accumu- the Harlem community. in the end, however, it
late power for one party or the other. the pur- left me more focused on the scalability of such
pose of politics is to help americans do better programs.
and help us achieve our national goals. one of
those should be rewarding hard work. this elec- So how do you erect incentives to motivate gov-
tion season would be a good time for candidates ernment, business and organized labor to make
to help make that goal a reality and support a a sustainable and significant impact on training
sensible expansion of the eitC. and employment opportunities?
Business Tax Credit for Training, Hiring
inSourcing to urBAn AreAS and Retention of Workers
By Clyde Williams over the years, there have been a host of pro-
grams to generate employment opportunities
for too long, many americans living in our ur- in america. though laudable, many suffered
ban centers have been left behind as our national because government, rather than business, was
economy has witnessed nearly a decade of record defining the sectors to target and designing and
economic expansion for a select few. according implementing the training programs. a more
to recent uS Census bureau data, new york sustainable model would be to establish a labor-
City has the greatest continued income disparity corporate partnership, in which corporations
gap between the rich and the poor in the nation, define skill set shortages and labor unions find
with family incomes at the bottom rung of the and train the workers in a program co-funded by
economic ladder earning a stunningly meager the government and corporations. a post-train-
$8,000 annually. ing tax credit could be provided to the corpora-
tions, the size of which would be scaled to the
over several decades, government at the local, number of workers trained and retained. with
state, and national level has tried numerous pro- shared incentives, the effort would be more sus-
grams, mostly social, to tackle entrenched pov- tainable—the government is able to drive work-
erty. Some have made modest improvements. ers into growth fields and mitigate the downsides
During the Clinton years, the creation of ad- of globalization; corporations gain a ready sup-
ditional empowerment zones, targeted block ply of trained workers, the expense of which is
grants, and the expansion of the earn income off-set by the government; and unions gain new
tax Credit were examples of creative new ideas members.
take the nursing industry, with a shortage of
but the consistent challenge is bringing such ini- more than 1.2 million nurses by 2014 and new
tiatives to scale. as President Clinton’s domestic registered nurse positions accounting for nearly
policy advisor in Harlem, i created a small busi- two-fifths of all new jobs in health care, this sec-
tor is ripe for the kind of collaboration noted future, and american workers are counting on
above. the same is true for auto technicians, them to find solutions that work.
demand for which is rising because of the in-
creasing diversity and sophistication of vehicles
on the road. in both industries, the shortages are the next preSiDent cAn enD
most pressing in large urban centers and there chilD hunger in AmericA
are natural union partnerships to leverage to By Joel Berg
build training programs. further, the jobs them-
selves provide steady, well-paying employment thirty-five million americans—a number
in an era of globalization. everyone can win. roughly equal to the entire population of Cal-
ifornia—faced hunger or the risk of hunger in
Capitalize on “Insourcing” Trends 2005, the latest year for which data is available.
i was struck recently by a recent fortune maga-
zine article, in which an indian conglomerate that figure represents a four million person in-
had established a call center in rural ohio. many crease since 1997 in the number of people in the
u.S. companies now see the limits of outsourc- u.S. who lived in households that suffered from
ing, and the indian call centers are responding to some form of food insecurity—meaning they
the demands of their customers. couldn’t afford an adequate and consistent sup-
ply of food—according to the u.S. Department
this “insourcing” often crops up in rural amer- of agriculture. the number of children who
ica for cost reasons but could also translate to lived in such households also increased during
american urban centers like Harlem, the bronx, that time, rising from 12.0 million to 12.4 mil-
or other large urban centers. for multinationals lion.
managing customer relations on a global basis,
what better than having call centers in urban nonprofit groups simply don’t have the re-
areas with a large and diverse workforce pool? sources to pick up the slack. for instance, the
employers would benefit from a multilingual non-partisan organization i run, the new york
workforce as well as greater infrastructure sup- City Coalition against Hunger, is an umbrella
port and access to transportation channels. but group for more than 1,200 charitable food pan-
government will need to lead the way to help all tries and soup kitchens in new york City. more
sides realize what is possible. than half of those agencies are forced to ration
food because they can’t keep up with the grow-
in the end, our economic policies will only be ing demand.
successful if they address needs across the nation,
both rural and our urban centers. Government the number of adults and children who suffer
has a responsibility—abdicated in recent years from the more severe lack of food—what the
by the bush administration—to help uplift our bush administration now calls “very low food
cities, battle poverty and joblessness, and find security” and what used to be called “hunger”—
scalable models that will allow labor and the pri- also increased in that period from 7.7 million to
vate sector to collaborate more fully. organized 10.7 million people—a 40 percent increase in
labor should embrace these recommendations just six years.
to increase membership and the standard of liv-
ing for thousands of workers. and businesses that’s the bad news. the good news is that the na-
should embrace these recommendations because tion has the ability and the resources to solve this
they make sound business sense. what we need problem rather easily should it choose to do so.
most is to begin to make the argument to both.
Government, private industry, and organized la- in the 1970s, under both republican and
bor all need each other to create the jobs of the Democratic administrations, the federal govern-
ment undertook bold new steps to reduce do- can family food, opportunity, and responsi-
mestic hunger. it created the women, infants, bility” (afford) program. more low-income
and Children (wiC) Program to provide babies americans would be eligible for this program
with better nutrition. it improved access to food than the existing, separate, programs—and eli-
stamps. it greatly increased school breakfasts and gibility determination and application processes
lunches for low-income children. would be dramatically simplified.
these programs were created as a result of a broad, under current federal law, families must earn
bipartisan consensus. Conservatives including below 130 percent of the poverty line to get
bob Dole and liberals like George mcGovern food stamp benefits and free school meals, but
worked together to move the measures through they must live below 185 percent of the poverty
the Senate. most importantly, the programs actu- line to obtain wiC benefits and reduced-price
ally worked, all but wiping out the nation’s last school meals. these conflicting guidelines result
pockets of third world style starvation. in both increased government bureaucracy at the
federal, state, and local levels and decreased ac-
in the more polarized politics of the last two de- cess to food. eligibility for all these programs un-
cades, platitudes and stale debates have replaced a der the new afford program should be set at
search for solutions. Conservatives tried to slash 185 percent of the poverty line. there should be
funding for federal nutrition programs, ignor- a single, short, universal, federal application for
ing their proven track record of reducing hunger. afford benefits, which americans could com-
Progressives were unwilling to propose reform- plete easily online or during an office visit. not
ing now-outmoded programs because they feared only would this reduce government paperwork
(often rightly so) that their proposals would be and bureaucracy, it would dramatically increase
hijacked by conservatives as an excuse to cut ben- the amount of nutrition provided to low-income
efits. the debate narrowed to a stark choice be- families, particularly working families.
tween cuts and more money, with the real world
result being an increase in hunger nationwide. • the federal government should make school
breakfast universal and provide it to all stu-
i propose that the next president work with Con- dents free of charge—regardless of family
gress to get beyond this debate with two bold income—in every one of the nation’s home-
moves that could win broad bipartisan support: room (first period) classrooms.
• the federal government should enact an in- research proves that children who eat breakfast at
novative new program that would simulta- school have higher test scores, fewer school nurse
neously increase the scope and effectiveness visits, act up less in class, and may even suffer less
of federal nutrition programs and decrease frequently from obesity. yet, according to a re-
the size and complexity of the government cent report by the food research action Center
bureaucracies that run them. (fraC), out of 23 big cities in the united States,
fully 21 had rates of free and reduced price break-
a top priority for any plan to end hunger in fast participation (compared to lunch participa-
america should be to simplify and better coor- tion) below 65 percent. in 11 of those cities, the
dinate federal nutrition assistance programs. the rate was below 50 percent. many suburban and
nation should combine the existing food Stamp rural districts have even lower rates—and some
Program with most of the existing other federal don’t even offer school breakfasts at all.
nutrition assistance programs.
both universal rules and in-classroom breakfasts
my colleague tom freedman has suggested that have already proven their success in select school
such a new program could be called the “ameri- districts nationwide. for instance, in newark,
new Jersey—where both are utilized—the dis- focus on their studies and are protected from the
trict has a 94 pecent breakfast participation rate. stigma of having to leave their friends to go to a
Given that most school districts must now have special breakfast room for the “poor kids.”
a complex system in place to collect forms and
data on the income of each student’s parents to Given that textbooks are widely understood to
determine the eligibility of each child, when a be a critical educational tool, public school dis-
district adopts a universal breakfast policy, not tricts typically give them out free of charge to all
only does it reduce the stigma faced by children students. the time is ripe for the nation to view
and thereby increases participation, it also re- school breakfasts in the same way.
duces the paperwork and bureaucracy, saving the
district time and money. when kids eat break- taken together, these steps could elevate the no-
fast in a classroom instead of a lunch room that tion of ending child hunger in america from a
is a hallway or two away, they have more time to once-a-year holiday platitude to a reality.
About the Authors
John Austin is a nonresident senior fellow with the Jennifer Davis is the co-founder and president
brookings institution, as well as the vice president of massachusetts 2020, a non-profit foundation
of the michigan State board of education. focused on expanding educational and econom-
ic opportunities for massachusetts children and
Joel Berg is the executive director of the new families.
york City Coalition against Hunger, an organi-
zation that serves as an umbrella group for the Lanny Davis is a partner in the washington, D.C.,
more than 1,200 charitable soup kitchens and office of the litigation group at orrick, Herrington
food pantries in new york. & Sutcliffe llP. from 1996 to 1998, he served as
special counsel to the president in the white House
Bert Brandenburg is the executive director of and was spokesperson for President bill Clinton on
the Justice at Stake campaign, a national, non- matters concerning the campaign finance investi-
partisan partnership to keep courts fair, impar- gations and other legal issues.
tial, and independent.
Karen Donahue Alden is a writer and strategy
Phil Bredesen is the governor of tennessee. consultant who has spent fifteen years as a senior
executive for a number of corporations.
Rahil Briggs is a psychologist at the Children’s
Hospital at montefiore medical Center in new Marc Dunkelman is vice president for strategic
york, where she is the director of the Healthy communications for the DlC and director of
Steps for young Children program. ideasPrimary.com.
Frank Brosens is a co-founder of taconic Capi- Mike Easley is the governor of north Carolina.
tal advisors, a new york multi-strategy firm pri-
marily focused on event investing. Rahm Emanuel is a u.S. representative from
Chicago and chairman of the House Demo-
Katie Campbell serves as a policy analyst for the cratic Caucus. He also co-authored The Plan:
DlC/PPi. Big Ideas for America with DlC President
Kevin Carey is research and policy manager of
education Sector, a non-partisan think tank fo- Harold Ford, Jr. is chair of the Democratic
cusing on education reform. leadership Council, visiting professor at vander-
bilt university, and vice chair of merrill lynch,
Tom Carper is a u.S. senator from Delaware inc. He served 10 years as a member of Congress
and vice chair of the DlC. representing tennessee’s 9th district.
Phil Carter is an attorney and writer in new Tom Freedman is president of freedman Con-
york City who practices government-contracts sulting, llC and a senior fellow at the Progres-
law with mcKenna long & aldridge llP. sive Policy institute.
Richard Fritz is a founding partner of Global Peter Lee is the Ceo of the Pacific business
agritrends with years of experience in the global Group on Health and co-chair of the Consumer-
agriculture industry. Purchaser Disclosure Project.
Al From is founder and Ceo of the Democratic Will Marshall is president and founder of the
leadership Council. Progressive Policy institute. He is also co-found-
er of the Democratic leadership Council.
Ralf Fuecks is president of the Heinrich boll
foundation. Jan Mazurek is director of the Progressive Policy
institute’s energy & environment Project. She
Chris Gabrieli currently serves as chairman of is completing her PhD at uCla’s School of
massachusetts 2020, which he co-founded in Public affairs.
2000; chairman of the Springfield finance Con-
trol board; and co-chairman of the national Gregory W. Meeks is a six-term u.S. representa-
Center on time & learning. He is also senior tive from new york’s 6th Congressional District.
partner at bessemer venture Partners and co- He is a member of the House Committee on fi-
founder of GmiS, a health care software com- nancial Services and the Committee on foreign
Edward Gresser is director of the Project on Debra Ness is the president of the national
trade and Global markets at the Progressive Partnership for women & families and co-chair
Policy institute. of the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project.
Jonathan Gruber is a professor of economics at Jason Newman is state & local policy director at
the massachusetts institute of technology. He is the Democratic leadership Council.
also the director of the Program on Children at
the national bureau of economic research, co- Bruce Reed is president of the Democratic
editor of the Journal of Public economics, and leadership Council.
an associate editor of the Journal of Health eco-
nomics. Harvey Rishikof is professor of law and former
chair of the Department at the national Security
Shadi Hamid is director of research at the Proj- Strategy, national war College.
ect on middle east Democracy. He is also a writ-
er for the national Security network’s foreign af- Bill Ritter is the governor of Colorado.
fairs blog Democracy Arsenal.
Tim Roemer is a former u.S. representative
Elaine Kamarck, a lecturer in public policy at from indiana and currently serves as chair of the
Harvard university’s John f. Kennedy School of Center for national Policy.
Government, served in the white House from
1993 to 1997, where she created and managed Andrew Romanoff is the speaker of the Colo-
the Clinton administration’s national Perfor- rado House of representatives.
mance review. She was a founder of the Progres-
sive Policy institute. Stephen A. Ross is the franco modigliani Pro-
fessor of financial economics at mit and chair-
Matthew Larkin is membership director for the man of Compensation valuation, inc.
truman national Security Project and was pre-
viously the director of Public Programs for the Andy Rotherham is co-founder and co-director
world affairs Council of washington, D.C. of education Sector, and a member of the vir-
ginia board of education. He also serves as a se- Laura Spining is a member of the internet innova-
nior fellow at the Progressive Policy institute. tion alliance (iia), an organization advocating for
increased broadband access across the u.S.
Isabel Sawhill is a senior fellow at the brookings
institution and has co-authored several books, Matthew Watley is the executive minister to
including Getting Ahead: Economic and Social more than 6,000 members of the reid temple
Mobility in America and Updating America’s So- african methodist episcopal Church in Glenn
cial Contract: Economic Growth and Opportunity Dale, md.
in the New Century.
Paul Weinstein Jr. is chief operating officer of
Harold Schaitberger is general president of the the Democratic leadership Council and the
international association of fire fighters, the Progressive Policy institute.
union representing the nation’s paid, profession-
al fire fighters and paramedics. Clyde Williams is founder and president of his
own business development firm, Certus advi-
Kathleen Sebelius is the governor of Kansas. sors, based in new york City.
Democratic Leadership Council
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Washington, DC 20003