Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

U.S. Drone Activities in Pakistan

Author: Greg Bruno

The reliance on unmanned drones to target terror suspects in Pakistan has been quietly lauded by U.S. officials. But the covert program, which has so far gotten little public scrutiny, is facing mounting legal and ethical concerns.

See more in Defense Strategy; United States; Pakistan

The Stimulus Report Card

Author: Roya Wolverson

The Obama administration says its 2009 stimulus package saved jobs and boosted growth, but Republicans and some economists worry it dampened consumer and business spending and added to long-term debt.

See more in Monetary Policy; United States

Renewing America

Renewing America

Outsourcing Jobs and Taxes

Author: Roya Wolverson

Outsourcing remains a contentious political issue as lawmakers, analysts, and business leaders debate its effect on U.S. job creation and the role of corporate tax policy in shipping jobs overseas, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in United States; Labor; Tax Policy

Global Uranium Supply and Demand

Author: Toni Johnson

Interest in nuclear power is increasing, but securing adequate uranium supplies for nuclear fuel faces challenges ranging from a flagging mining sector to fears of nuclear weapons proliferation.

See more in United States; Nuclear Energy

National Missile Defense: A Status Report

Author: Greg Bruno

The United States has pursued missile defense technologies for six decades, with mixed results. Changes under the Obama administration, including adjustments to planned defenses in Europe, could portend a new direction.

See more in United States; Missile Defense

The Fine Print on Defense Spending

Author: Greg Bruno

As the Obama administration finalizes its first defense budget, analysts say near-term growth will be followed by lean spending amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

See more in United States; Defense Budget

Debating a 'Clean Coal' Future

As U.S. lawmakers debate a cap-and-trade policy to combat climate change, experts say coal will continue to be a major part of the world's energy mix, which will likely complicate efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

See more in United States; Climate Change; Coal

The U.S. Economic Stimulus Plan

Author: Lee Hudson Teslik

President Obama has signed one of the largest rescue packages since the Great Depression to revive the U.S. economy. Economists warn of the need to keep spending targeted, timely, and temporary.

See more in Financial Crises; United States