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Boost the Economy, Elect a New Congress

Author: Peter R. Orszag, Adjunct Senior Fellow
March 13, 2012
Bloomberg.com

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Last week, Harvard Business School hosted a conference in New York to talk about how the U.S. could continue to support "high and rising living standards for Americans" in the face of global competition. It was a lively discussion, leading to many good, if familiar, economic-policy ideas for increasing productivity in the U.S.

Unfortunately, this conversation largely ignored the key constraint to many of the policy recommendations: the rise of hyperpolarization in Congress. If business leaders want better economic policy, they need to first help elect more moderates to Congress.

The conference was centered on a survey of 10,000 Harvard Business School graduates, conducted in October 2011 by Michael Porter and Jan Rivkin, professors at the school. A quarter of the respondents had achieved the rank of chief executive, president or chairman of a corporation, or the equivalent.

Some of the survey's most interesting questions had to do with decisions about location. More than 40 percent of people who participated said their firms had faced decisions about siting new businesses or relocating existing ones within the past year, and almost 20 percent of them had been personally involved in making the decision.

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