Sarah Rahman

From its opening pages, the Obama administration’s FY2011 budget request adopts a stance that pervades this blog. Declares the document: “We need to recognize that competitive, high-performing regional economies are essential to a strong national economy.” (See page 20 of the federal budget.) In line with this recognition, the new budget unveils not one, but several proposals to support regional industry or innovation “clusters” through multiple federal departments. Clusters, as we have noted previously, are a fundamental fact of national economies, and a critical enhancer of regional economi

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Now Google is in. In compelling testimony to the Energy and Public Works Committee last week, the director of climate change and energy initiatives for the company's philanthropy (Google.org), Dan Reicher, mounted a powerful argument that the federal government should invest at least $15 billion a year of climate bill revenues in clean energy research and development. Declared Reicher: Putting a price on carbon, while absolutely necessary, is not sufficient to address the climate problem and importantly, will not put the U.S.

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So the first tranche of quarterly data tracking where federal stimulus dollars are going and how they are being used is out and the answer is… well, it’s pretty hard to say. Here are the straight numbers: Roughly, 5,200 federal contractors received around 9,100 contracts worth about $16 billion that created or saved a little over 30,000 jobs. But what do those really mean? Sure, it’s an admirable presentation, with the official Recovery.gov website heralding all sorts of new maps and tables listing places, names, projects, and job counts.

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One thing to say about the recently announced Nobel Prize in Physics is that it illustrates, as Congress mulls the nation’s R&D budgets, the economic rationale for bigger research investments.

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The Stimulus Paradox

The Department of Labor’s release last week of the worse-than-expected job numbers for the month of September set off the now typical back and forth debate about whether the federal stimulus is working. Joe Biden, Larry Summers, and Christina Romer have commented that the economy is still moving in the right direction and the loss of 263,000 jobs last month could have been worse had there been no federal stimulus at all. Another army of usual suspects claims that the dismal jobs report is proof that the stimulus package has yet to produce economic recovery.    In a way, both camps are right. 

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Yesterday, Democratic Sens. Kerry and Boxer dropped their initial version of a Senate climate bill, so the game’s on. We’ll defer to Brad Plumer’s Vine post for a good side-by-side comparison, but suffice it to say the Kerry-Boxer Senate outline looks a lot like the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the House earlier this year, with a few differences.  Like the Waxman-Markey legislation, the Senate version sets emissions targets (a little stricter than the House standard with a 20 percent emissions reduction from 2005 levels required by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050).

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Governing Memphis

The latest cover of Governing features Mayor AC Wharton of Shelby County, TN--one of the more regionally-minded leaders in the South. Wharton has long been a passionate voice for greater collaboration in his hometown of Memphis and its surrounding metro area, which spans three states (TN, AR, and MS).

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There’s a lot of back and forth going on about whether the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka ARRA or the “stimulus package”) is working or not. Last week, Mark Muro asked: What transformative impacts might ARRA have on the way states, localities, and regions do business?

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