Though Washington can’t seem to get enough of it, the debt and deficits fixation continues to feel pretty theatrical. Far scarier, by contrast, is the state of the economy. Notwithstanding some positive signs in the housing and construction sectors, the drifting economy remains troubled. Real domestic product has been growing at tepid rates below 2 percent per year. Pay remains stagnant for most workers.
Contrary to the claims of some politicians and pundits, we can’t cut our way to a strong economy. We need to get our fiscal house in order, to be sure. But we also need to invest in those key areas that can help boost the nation’s growth, which is still the best way to erase the debt. Which is why, in the midst of its fiscal struggles, Congress should move forward on the permanent authorization of a simpler and more generous research and experimentation (R&E) tax credit. Since 1981, the R&E tax credit has helped guard against one of the foremost enemies of innovation: underinvestment.
As tax hikes and spending cuts loom, we at the Metro Program will continue to harp on the need also to renew the economy. Put simply, U.S.
So, what’s next? As the fever pitch of the presidential campaign subsides, many Americans are wondering just that—and often with a lot of pessimism. Unemployment still hovers near 8 percent. The federal deficit stands at over $1.1 trillion. The fiscal cliff yawns and after that, the potential for another debt ceiling standoff. Partisan rancor, moreover, convulses an increasingly outmoded federal enterprise. Much, much work needs to be done. And yet, not everything is bleak.
As we move into the final days of the campaign season, all eyes are trained on the race for the presidency. But the presidential election is far from the only item on Americans’ ballots.
Hubs and clusters, institutes and ecosystems: In recent years, we and others have talked a lot about the morphology of innovation systems, which are frequently anchored by major centers of research and comprised of related regional groups of entrepreneurs, orbiting firms, industry actors, and educational institutions. Strengthening that optimal structure was the idea behind our companion proposals for the creation of a network of regional energy discovery-innovation institutes and the establishment of a program to aid and abet nascent clusters with competitive grants.
When it comes to transformative infrastructure, there’s no bigger tool for metro areas than local referendums. These regional votes give metropolitan areas an opportunity to sidestep the business-as-usual approach in Washington and initiate their own local vision--and to do so with resources typically counted in the billions. From major rail investments in Denver to a new central park in Oklahoma City, referendums are a vital way to reshape our metropolitan economies. And that’s exactly what makes yesterday’s vote in Atlanta so troubling for that region’s future.