from Renewing America

Morning Brief: Romney Addresses Education Inequality

Mitt Romney speaks about his proposals to reform K-12 education by expanding school choice at The Latino Coalition's Annual Economic Summit on May 23, 2012 (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

May 24, 2012

Mitt Romney speaks about his proposals to reform K-12 education by expanding school choice at The Latino Coalition's Annual Economic Summit on May 23, 2012 (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).
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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, gave a major policy speech yesterday outlining his educational priorities (NYT). The candidate argued that disparate educational opportunities—with minorities disproportionately relegated to failing schools—is the “civil-rights issue of our era.” He embraced school choice and proposed a federal voucher-like system for low-income students, and also called for increasing school performance transparency so parents can avoid failing schools. Education has not been a major issue for presidential campaigns since 2000, but analysts noted this speech was given at the Latino Coalition’s Annual Economic Summit, and see an opportunity for Romney to attract Hispanic voters.

Choice-based school reforms have attracted considerable debate among experts. The state of Louisiana has become a kind of national laboratory for proponents of choice-based reform. Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich discussed recent Louisianan educational reforms in a Policy Initiative Spotlight.

Education and human capital. Read more from experts discussing ways to improve U.S. education and immigration policies.

Corporate Regulation and Taxation

Data-Driven Regulations?

In Bloomberg, noted finance researcher Tobias J. Moskowitz argues for regulations based upon data rather than political ideology and public outrage. As one example, Moskowitz and his colleagues conducted a randomized experiment that found restricting short selling may not prop up share prices after all. He points out that similar data were available to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulators three years before the financial crisis, but says policymakers let politics—rather than data—guide their regulatory response to the crisis.

Corporate regulation and taxation. Read more from top economists and business experts on solutions for addressing corporate tax reform.

Debt and Deficits

China Buys U.S. Treasuries Directly

Since June 2011, China has had the option of buying U.S. Treasuries directly and bypassing Wall Street banks (Reuters). China is the only nation to have a direct relationship with the U.S. Treasury; all other sovereigns buy U.S. debt through “primary dealers.” This accommodation benefits the Chinese by reducing transaction costs and hiding their bids from other buyers. It also highlights China’s purchasing power. China holds $1.17 trillion in U.S. debt—the most of any nation.

Debt and deficits. Read more from experts on the challenges in reducing U.S. debt.

International Trade and Investment

Airplane Sales Takeoff

Boeing and Airbus have enjoyed soaring demand, but analysts caution airplanes sales may be in a bubble (Reuters). Rising orders are being driven by travel growth in emerging economies, fuel cost conscious airlines seeking a more efficient fleet, and the growth of aircraft leasing companies. Airbus and Boeing predict a $4 trillion airplane market over the next twenty years. That market may be increasingly shared with new entrants from China, Brazil, Canada, and Russia, though most growth plans have hit turbulence (Economist). China’s first passenger jetliner will face further delay (Reuters).

International trade and investment. Read more from leading analysts on the debate over next steps in U.S. trade policy.


Federal Funds for Portland Light Rail

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) agreed to pay for half of a $1.49 billion project to extend light rail from Portland to its suburbs, with operation slated for 2015. The funds came from the FTA’s discretionary New Starts program, which uses federal funds to support locally planned, implemented and operated transit projects. New Starts funds are supporting projects to build light rail, bus rapid transit, commuter rail, and even New York’s second avenue subway line.

Scott Thomasson, the president of NewBuild Strategies and an expert on infrastructure funding, recently authored "Encouraging U.S. Infrastructure Investment," a Policy Innovation Memorandum released by CFR’s Renewing America initiative. Thomasson proposes new initiatives to address crumbling U.S. infrastructure.

Infrastructure. Read more on how upgrading the nation’s aging network of roads, bridges, airports, railways, and water systems is essential to maintaining U.S. competitiveness.

The Morning Brief is compiled by Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich.

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