Climate Change

The President Acts on Climate Change

New York City -- President Obama's executive orders today on energy that include allowing states to set their own emissions standards and his decision to accelerate standards for 2011 cars are a welcome relief after the climate obstructionism of the Bush years. Welcomed by Republican Governor Schwarzenegger and other governors on both sides of the aisle, President Obama's order will give states the flexibility denied them by the Bush Administration to take action on cleaning their states and taking action on climate change.

The President's statement made clear that the various initiatives are designed to enhance, not in any way harm, the competitiveness of the U.S. auto sector. This quick action on the climate issue is another sign of the urgency with which the new Administration views climate change. We expect more executive orders to help create a clean economy in coming days.

Clearing the Decks for the Next Expansion

New York City -- As the economic recovery and investment package backed by the Administration works its way through Congress and more evidence about the nature of this recession surfaces, an interesting exercise is to think about how we want to emerge once it is over.  In the midst of current economic turmoil, it may seem difficult to imagine the post-recovery world, let alone accurately predict it. Nonetheless, starting with an outcome and working backwards to a policy prescription is far preferable to policy based purely on the passions of the moment. Following are my thoughts on the world I would like to see in 2012 and the resulting implications for current policy.

First, by 2012, I certainly hope that a robust recovery is well underway. But to do that, we need to get through the pain now and resist any temptation to drag things out. In the years of true laissez faire before modern management of the economy, the typical business cycle ran about 3 to 4 years from top to trough.  The United States entered recessions in 1893, 1896, 1900, 1903, 1907, 1910 and 1914, for example, with this pattern continuing through 1931. Modern economic policy combined with changes in the economy have tamed and extended the business cycle so that we have been averaging nine-year expansions interrupted by quick, shallow recessions. However, the Japanese example of the 1990s shows that policy can extend a slowdown if a country is unable to take its licks quickly and then move on. We don't want a Japanese-style lost decade. So a top priority is to face up to our problems now to clear the decks for the future.

Second, a recession of this depth virtually guarantees a strong expansion coming out.  However, it is important that we lay the groundwork for an expansion that has three qualities.  The expansion should create new high paid jobs, it should be broad-based, benefiting every income segment and region of the country and it should contribute to our long-term productivity. The fact is not all expansions are alike. And the recent Bush expansion failed on all these counts. Lacking any science or technology component, it left tract houses and debt instruments but no new industries to speak of.  It benefited a small group at the top while the lower 80 percent of Americans saw their incomes actually drop.  And it made precious few investments in our future productivity. In contrast, the 1980s expansion created the personal computer industry and the 1990s expansion the Internet --both dominated by U.S. firms. The 1990s built our broadband network on which much of our future productivity depends and raised middle class incomes. Both created great new American companies. So in 2012, I would like to see a recovery underway that is innovative, broad-based and long term.

Finally, in 2012, I would like to see the United States on a path toward environmental and climate sustainability. As the global population continues to explode, we can no longer take our earth's health for granted. The consequences of ignoring the health of the earth are simply too dire to leave to chance and the negative consequences of pollution and climate change could easily eat up and make a mockery of the benefits of the next expansion.

So what are the implications for current policy?

First, we need to act decisively, but intelligently, to put this recession behind us. The stimulus package is not a cure-all, but it will help restore liquidity to the economy. The key here is to pass it quickly rather than haggling over details. The greatest task is probably to revamp and refashion the clumsy TARP program into a multi-pronged policy to restore the health of the financial sector. The government needs to help banks clear their books of non-performing loans.  While new classes of bad assets are emerging daily, the largest class -- as evidenced by the financial strength of banks who resisted their allure -- remain the mortgage-backed securities and structured investment vehicles that started the crisis. The government should corral these, buy them up and then sell them off to investors. If the investors profit as did those who bought real estate from the Resolution Trust Company in the 1990s, so much the better. In turn, the government should also create a new US mortgage with a stable, 5.25% interest rate to create the basis for secure, affordable homeownership in years ahead. A comprehensive effort, building on Paul Volcker's recent report, needs to begin to update our financial regulatory regime to prevent another crisis of this nature. And we need to dramatically strengthen the rights of the consumer of financial services. It is shocking that the financial services industry -- with billions of taxpayers' money in its hands and pockets --is at this moment lobbying against consumer protection. The gutting of usury regulation, credit and consumer reporting legislation, fairness in lending and other post-war consumer protections by banking lobbyists in recent years clearly played a major role in the crisis.

Second, we need to ensure that the next recovery is broad based. The answer here involves investing in education, middle-class tax relief and our infrastructure to ensure that everyone benefits from the next expansion. 

Third, we need to ensure that the next economy bolsters the long-term productivity of the United States. That means investing in science and technology to power innovation from which new industry must come, investing in greening our economy to cut energy costs and investing in new infrastructure such as a smarter electrical grid, mass transit and greener buildings to make our people more productive. The stimulus bill is an important down payment on the investments we need. However, by its very nature the stimulus bill is designed to get as much money out the door as quickly as possible. This means it cannot --in its current form -- be expected to make all the long term investments we need. 

Finally, we need to make the energy investments and policy changes needed to restore our climate to health. Many of the green elements of the economic recovery and investment package that we at NDN began proposing last summer will help in this regard -- from greening the federal government to providing tax credits for saving energy to investing in mass transit. However, the Administration also needs to move forward on comprehensive energy legislation and a cap and trade system so that we can take a leadership role in global negotiations next year in Copenhagen.

As I often argued in the 1990s and dicussed in my book, The Coming American Renaissance, and as National Economic Council chairman, Larry Summers, said this weekend on Meet the Press, America's greatest days lie ahead of us. I am convinced that America will emerge from the current crisis stronger and that the years from 2012 to 2016 and beyond can be among America's greatest.

To do that, however, we need to make the right decisions today to power the next round of prosperity.  Cleaning up our financial sector, investing in our people and investing in new clean technologies and infrastructure are the way not only to get our economy back on track, but also to clear the decks for the the next great wave of economic growth.

Wednesday Buzz: The Inauguration of a New Generation, Pragmatic Progressivism, More

Yesterday's proceedings were an historic landmark in many ways, representing a momentous step forward in race relations in America and a dramatic shift in governing philosophy and ideology. 

But President Obama's inauguration as the 44th president of the United States of America was historic in other ways as well -- NDN Fellows Morley Winograd and Mike Hais helped to provide some context and insight into the generational implications of this inauguration in the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes, the Palm Beach Post, and the Orlando Sentinel. From the Chronicle piece:

"This is our moment," says Jonah Khandros, 23, of Orinda, a Democratic political activist who worked on Obama's campaign and traveled to the nation's capital this week. He plans to celebrate the inauguration by uniting with dozens of friends from high school and college who have scattered around the country. "We've waited for this; a lot of us worked for it," he said. "But even if your only contribution was talking to your mom and dad and convincing them to vote for Obama, we feel our generation gets a lot of credit."

Morley Winograd, an author and a fellow at NDN, a progressive think tank and advocacy organization, says the Woodstock comparison is entirely appropriate. "This is their moment to demonstrate to America what they think America's future should be like," said Winograd. "They are going to celebrate that and underline it for all of America. Of course, the race relations breakthrough is huge, and the media will be focused on it ... but the generational difference, the moment the generational shift takes place, is also an important story."

...NDN Fellow Michael Hais, who co-authored "Millennial Makeover: My Space, YouTube and the Future of American Politics" with Winograd, said that the Millennial generation's overwhelming and early support of Obama means Millennials are poised to watch his swearing-in with a high level of connection. A recent Rasmussen poll, he said, showed they are expected to tune in to today's events at more than twice the level of other generations.

And another quote, this one from the Mercury News article:

Obama's campaign mobilized a new generation of voters, and the turnout of about 1.5 million in Washington was a testament to his wide appeal. The new 47-year-old president claimed a mandate for bold action, despite the doubts of many.

"What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply," he said.

Morley Winograd, author of "Millennial Makeover" with Michael Hais, said Obama "was elaborating on the theme of generational change, that we are getting past ideological division, that we need government action and to rebuild our image abroad."

Simon was quoted in the Financial Times and the Boston Globe (and its sister papers) on the challenges facing our new president. From the Globe:

Obama begins his term with a long list of national troubles to address: an economic recession, massive home foreclosures, high unemployment, two wars, a healthcare crisis, and a damaged US image abroad - any one of which could derail his presidency in the first year.

But Obama also starts with a deep reservoir of good will among the public and elected officials in both parties. Recent polls have found that Obama is the most popular incoming president in a generation, with 80 percent of Americans in a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday saying they approved of the way Obama handled the transition. Further, 71 percent said Obama had earned a mandate to work for major new social and economic programs.

"These are happy times for our politics, but a very tough time for the country," said Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a progressive think tank. "There's both tremendous hope and a great deal of sobriety. People are having both of these feelings at the same time."

Simon was also featured in the New York Times blog talking about immigration reform.

Finally, Michael Moynihan was featured in the Los Angeles Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Obama's climate change challenge. From the LA Times feature:

"Before you spend billions of dollars on new lines, you have to spend millions of dollars on design work," said Michael Moynihan, the green project director of the liberal think tank NDN in Washington, who has worked extensively on green infrastructure and the stimulus. "Nobody had been thinking about this much money [becoming available]. So the planning just has not been done."

Monday Buzz: Inaugural Fever, NDN Internacional, y Mas (and More)

It was a worldly week for NDN, with Simon quoted in Agence France-Presse (France, English translation here), Diario Público (Spain), Telemetro (Panama), RTBF (Belgium), Realitatea (Romania) and Globo (Brazil) on how President-elect Obama will reinvent the White House the same way that he reinvented how political campaigns are run. From the English translation of the AFP story:

"Obama is going to change the game with government the way he changed the game with politics," said Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a Washington-based progressive think-tank.

"We should expect that experimentation is not just going to happen in the White House, but there will be competition inside the administration," he said at a panel discussion this week on the Internet and policy-making.

"Using these tools is going to become a critical way that Barack is going to evaluate the performance of his own team," Rosenberg said.

Simon was also quoted in the El Paso Times about last week's Obama-Calderon meeting and the beginning of a stronger US-Mexico relationship. 

Morley Winograd and Mike Hais were quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Advertiser, the Boston Globe, and about Obama's use of technology and his appeal to civic service, both themes that they explore extensively in Millennial Makeover. From the San Francisco Chronicle piece:

Morley Winograd, a fellow at NDN, a Democratic advocacy group, and co-author of "Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, & the Future of American Politics," said that the speech will probably include at least one reference to a theme that Americans on both sides of the aisle will welcome: "rebuilding America's civic spirit."

"The way to solve that is through a unified effort, a perfect millennial theme, the 'Joshua generation' - that we hold hands and blow down the walls together," he said. "I don't think it will have a single digit of partisan tinge. ... It will be 'everybody is in this together.' "

Morley and Mike were also quoted in The Hill about Speaker Pelosi's Rickroll YouTube video (now there's a sentence I never anticipated writing). From the Hill article: 

“I think this is part of the congressional wakening that, given the power of social networks demonstrated by the Obama campaign, Congress needs to get with the program,” said Morley Winograd, coauthor of the book Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics.

“The key to success in YouTube or any other social network is to have something that's inherently interesting, and I think that's what they're trying to get at with this choice,” Winograd added. “I think it's important for politicians using this kind of medium have a challenge to make sure their use of pop culture isn't exploitative or old-fashioned. It's a delicate line to walk.”

Finally, Rob was featured in Roll Call on the need for a carbon tax, and NDN's pollster and longtime friend Sergio Bendixen was featured in Politico.

Monday Buzz: A Party of One, Real Realignment, Keys to Economic Recovery, and More

NDN had some great mentions in the media this week. Simon was quoted in the cover story of  New York Magazine, "A Party of One," on the unique character of this election and its implications for the future. From the exellent New York Magazine piece by John Heilemann, which echoes many of NDN's most important arguments:

Obama is difficult to pigeonhole not simply because he’s new but because of the newness of the moment that he—and we—inhabit. It’s a moment dominated by an economic crisis that’s shaken bedrock beliefs about the infallibility of free markets. A moment when a revised architecture of power is arising globally, challenging America’s status as an unrivaled superpower. When the networked age has finally arrived, inciting the implosion of the broadcast paradigm that governed politics in the Industrial Age. When the country is being transfigured demographically, hurtling toward becoming a majority-minority nation.

This crescendo of forces produced Obama, made his ascension possible. Now he has a chance to shape the new era, to leave his stamp on it. “This really is the first presidency of the 21st century,” says Simon Rosenberg, head of the Democratic advocacy group NDN. “Those who try to hold on to twentieth-century descriptions of politics are going to be disappointed and frustrated by what’s about to emerge in the new administration, because American politics no longer fits into the old boxes—and neither does Obama. For better or worse, what he is doing is building a new box.”

Simon was also quoted in The Washington Times, and his essay on the need for "Progress, Not Motion" was featured in The Hill.

Rob was quoted in The National Journal, Washington Post Global, and The Street, and received a great shout-out from CEO Patrick Byrne in ECommerce Journal. From the National Journal article:

For Obama, who is in no position to tighten fiscal policy, trade liberalization is today's best analog to Clinton's gamble. "If Obama thinks that Doha could contribute to an economic recovery and expansion that will be in full flight as he's running for re-election, he'll do it," says Robert Shapiro, a Washington-based economic consultant and a veteran of the Clinton administration's Commerce Department. "Just like Bill Clinton raised taxes because he was convinced that would be the effect."

In 2007, Shapiro notes, almost one-third of everything produced in the world was exported across a border, up from less than one-fifth as recently as 1990. America, he adds, is one of the world's two most globalized countries (the other is China). Like it or not, globalization, meaning cross-border commerce, now drives the world's economic growth.

Finally, new NDN fellows Morley Winograd and Mike Hais were featured in the USA Today on the realigning character of this election. From the article, by Chuck Raasch:

And so, a 30-year era is ending, an era in which one political party, the Republicans, saw government as the problem. Whether or not it is smart to run $1.2 trillion deficits and massively expand government's control over private enterprise, the course has been set.

Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais, co-authors of "Millennial Makeover: MySpace, You Tube, and the Future of American Politics," say the United States is undergoing the sixth major political realignment in its history. The nation is transforming, they say, from the worn-out arguments of an idealistic but fractured baby boom generation to a more civic consciousness exemplified by "millennials" born between 1982 and 2003. Civic generations, Hais and Winograd say, are primarily interested in strengthening government and political institutions.

Getting the Stimulus Right

The stimulus package, no longer on track for an Inauguration Day signing but still the largest stimulus in modern history, is working its way rapidly through Congress.  The timetable remains so short, and the stimulus so large, that the job before Congress and the skeleton Obama economic team remains huge.  There is still time to get the stimulus right.  But there is also a risk that things may go wrong.  Here are a few thoughts on how to make the largest stimulus in history something we can all be proud of that will live up to its goal of aiding our economy in the short term and the long term.

First, we need to recognize that fiscal spending is messy, and accordingly, requires real effort and supervision.  Not for nothing is it a fiscal tool that is rarely taken out of the shed.

Unlike monetary policy, which is highly virtual and information age -- you flip a switch, the target rate for federal funds, and the economy (ideally) responds -- or tax cuts, which at most involved mailing out a rebate, fiscal spending is very sticks and mortar.  Clean infrastructure stimulus -- vital as it is to our future at this point in our history -- involves truck rolls, deliveries of heavy materials and actually putting shovel to earth.  So far, the debate around fiscal stimulus has resembled the discussion prior to a monetary move -- what should the level of stimulus be, 600, 850 or perhaps a thousand billion.  It must now take equal account of the process by which that number, whatever it is, gets translated into real economic activity.

Second, we need to face up to the fact that this level of stimulus is massive.  For those not used to calculating in twelve digits, $850 billion is 6% of GDP (3% for each of the two years the stimulus will run), about one sixth of the annual budget per year and equal per year to almost all current discretionary spending.  While yesterday, President Elect Obama signaled that a large chunk of the stimulus (about $300 billion) will take the form of a tax cut, reducing the size of the spending package, we are still talking about a massive amount of spending.

This is important because Congress must generally do two things to spend a dollar.  It must first write law to authorize the spending and, second, appropriate money against the law.  The first step, the "how," usually requires years of deliberation.  The second step, the "how much," is easier once the spending authority exists.  To meet the exceptional timeline, lawmakers are now combing previous authorization bills for authority to spend.  However, even allowing that a substantial chunk of the stimulus will go to reimbursing state medicaid expenses -- in essence to state budget relief -- and another chunk to to a middle class tax cut, finding ways to spend this much money is no walk in the park.

For this reason, it is likely that substantial sums will have to go into holding pens of one type or another, where some official, a governor or perhaps a cabinet Secretary, will have the money available to spend once he or he has identified where to spend it.

So what potential holding pens exist?

State block grants are one potential holding pen for money.  With a block grant, the money is sent to governors with light strings attached for them to spend.  There is much to be said for pushing spending decisions as far down the line as possible. 

However, the governors themelves have requested only $180 billion.  Moreover, money dispatched to states risks being used to relieve pressing budget pressure, rather than on projects that create real jobs.  As an example, in the 1990s Icetea legislation, billions that Congress wanted to go into new transportation projects were diverted by governors to covering ordinary transportation overhead when the economy weakened.  If the Obama Administration is serious about rebuilding our infrastructure and creating new jobs, block grants are not a comprehensive answer.

Another potential form of holding pen is money allocated to a department, such as the Energy Department.  However, again, money dispensed in this matter is likely to sit around until bureaucrats determine how to spend it.  This, also, is inadequate to the crisis at hand.

Since this much spending is not easy and will require massive supervision to avoid waste and generate jobs quickly, the following two ingredients are critical to a successful plan.

Congress should empower a board to oversee the spending program.  As I have written in a prior post, business as usual won't work when we're talking about almost doubling normal discretionay expenditures.  A board would have the ability to act quickly to keep the money moving and oversee the entire process.

Second, Congress should establish a national state-by-state supervisory structure, staffed with auditors, engineers and managers, responsible to the board to oversee spending.  During the New Deal, one state director of the youth activities of the WPA in Texas was Lyndon Johnson. 

In short, it is important that we get this right.  It is neither practical nor responsible to double discretionary spending without creating a supervisory mechanism to oversee and monitor it.

Obama Names Energy Team

President-elect Barack Obama today announced his energy policy team (excluding the Secretary of Transportation, who will play a huge role in energy policy and Secretary of the Interior, who will oversee many environmental issues). Obama has signaled his strong desire to create a coherent energy policy and tackle climate change by creating a White House position (Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change) tasked with coordinating this portfolio.

From the transition's press release:

President-Elect Barack Obama Announces Key Members of Energy and Environment Team

CHICAGO – Today, President-elect Barack Obama announced key members of his energy and environment team, including Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy; Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator; Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ); Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change; and Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

President-elect Obama said, "In the 21st century, we know that the future of our economy and national security is inextricably linked to one challenge: energy.  The team that I have assembled here today is uniquely suited to meet the great challenges of this defining moment. They are leading experts and accomplished managers, and they are ready to reform government and help transform our economy so that our people are more prosperous, our nation is more secure, and our planet is protected. I look forward to working with them in the years ahead."

Sympathy for the Car Guys

New York City - Watching the spectacle of auto CEOs seeking aid on Capital Hill, it is interesting to contrast their reception with that of their better heeled Wall Street counterparts.  Though--or perhaps because the auto guys--compared by the New York Post this morning to Moe, Larry and Curley--are the poor men among recent corporate CEOs seeking money, they have been treated far more contemptuously.  They have had to travel hat in hand to Washington.  In contrast, bankers for the most part have stayed in New York, while the G -men, like borrowers calling on the Morgan Bank in days of yore, have made the trip to see them.  Many Americans cannot resist gloating over the plight of the auto CEOs.  Indeed the headline of today's Post was Rust in Peace.

Are people really more angry about their cars breaking down and high paid auto workers than about 30% interest on credit cards, bait and switch mortgages and fee-based banking?  I don't think so.  Reflecting on the different treatment, I think the answer is that neither group has sympathy among the public but bankers have sympathy among those in power.  This has spared them the humiliating treatment of publicly asking for money at hearing after hearing.

Outside of Detroit, hardly anyone in government even knows a car guy.  In contrast, bankers and financiers are densely intertwined with the political class in Washington.  Washington routinely taps people from the financial industry to work in government and countless Schedule C employees not to mention cabinet officials go to Wall Street upon leaving government.  Most policy wonks know dozens of people in the financial sector.  There lies the difference in how the two sectors, both suffering in the current downturn, have been received.  (There also lies the risk of crony capitalism.)

It also helps the financial sector that a large group of government organizations, from Treasury to the SEC to the Fed to the CFTC are devoted to its well being.  The auto industry though regulated with respect to safety and emissions has no similar agencies with a stake in its ongoing health.

However, if policy makers were to put aside the cultural and career affinity they may have for finance as opposed to manufacturing, they would find that the auto industry is every bit as important to America's future.

Finance is a great way to make money.  However, you don't have to believe with Kevin Phillips that finance becomes an outsized part of countries in decline to acknowledge that financial business gravitates to sectors and regions that are putting money to productive use.  Strong industry in a country makes for strong financial opportunities.  Silicon valley was a driver of Wall Street wealth building in the 1990s.  American firms, not British or Japanese ones, took most of the business. 

However in the last decade, as the center of productive uses for capital has moved to China, US financial institutions have had to chase business there and eventually, they will find themselves outmaneuvered by Chinese banks.   And markets recognize this fact.  If the Big Three go under, the stock market and US financials may decline in value as well.   The irony is that if that happens, the financials stand a good chance of getting more billions from TARP or the FED.  The result in that scenario would be that we lost not only the money but the car companies, too.  It makes more sense to put together a real plan to get our auto industry back on track.  

Emergency Stimulus Requires an Emergency Board

New York City - Clean infrastructure stimulus is coming and it is coming fast, perhaps as soon as January 20th, given the new accelerated timetable of President Elect Obama and the Congressional leadership.  For us at NDN, this is an exciting moment, as we have been advocating on behalf of a large green stimulus package that works for the long term as well as the short term for quite some time.

Clean infrastructure stimulus has the ability not only to create jobs in the near term -- particularly in sectors and regions hard hit by the now official recession, the manufacturing belt and the construction industry -- but also to create the clean, modernized physical plant and infrastructure that America needs to ensure our future prosperity.

However, how the stimulus is structured and carried out is as critical as the dollar amount.  On Tuesday, the nation's governors presented President Elect Obama with a list of $176 billion in infrastructure projects ready to go.  However, to get the money out onto the street quickly, moving it through the usual government channels won't work.  Rather, we need to create a new process and structure to get the money out quickly and efficiently.

Dick Ravitch, the former New York City MTA Chairman and head of New York Governor Paterson's new infrastructure commission, knows more about how federal funds flow to the states under ordinary circumstances than most.  Funds normally move slowly.  He argues this is no time for business as usual and his recommendation, an emergency infrastructure board, well supervised, with proper auditing controls and carefully monitored by Congress, is critical to getting funds flowing and jobs starting quickly. 

Rather than allocate money to agencies, Congress should authorize a board to fund valid projects.  Infrastructure projects that get funded should be ones teed up and ready to go with all their zoning and permitting in place so that the only thing missing is funding.  This is a far better way to move the funds out quickly than the usual funding channels that generally go through the Department of Transportation.  At the same time, money should be allocated according to sound, consistent principles to ensure orderly dispensation of funds.  The interests of the people can be adequately addressed by states identifying those that are high priority.

Projects with a green advantage such as public transportation projects, projects that employ green building, water projects and others that move us toward a low carbon economy should go to the head of the line.

As excited as we at NDN are about the speed with which green stimulus is now moving forward, moving money out quickly but also responsibly is vital to making this historic stimulus work.  If the money is spent wastefully, or perceived as being spent wastefully according to political expediency, it will not only be a tragic missed opportunity but also reduce its impact and undermine market confidence. 

Indeed, just yesterday, China's sovereign wealth fund announced it would no longer invest in American banks because of the erratic changes in US policy.  I wrote recently about the problem with the Treasury managing the bailout fund like a hedge fund.  What we need is structure and consistency but a streamlined process to move money out onto the street where it is needed quickly and effectively.

At the same time, we cannot let red tape or ordinary bureaucratic lethargy slow funding when a key purpose of stimulus is to get the money out quickly to create jobs and get the economy moving again.

We don't have that much time to get this right, but we do have a great deal of will as we face up to the severe economic challenges facing the country. An emergency board with emergency powers but also the proper rules in force to guarantee the judicious but expeditious spending of the tax payer's money is a good idea that the incoming Administration and Congress should embrace.

Following are links to some of NDN's work on a clean infrastructure stimulus:

A Vision for a Modernized Electric Grid: Clean Infrastructure for a 21st Century Economy

Understanding the Cleantech Investment Opportunity

A Stimulus for the Long Run

Accelerating the Development of a 21st Century Economy: Investing in Clean Infrastructure

Solar Energy: The Case for Action

Investing in Our Common Future: U.S. Infrastructure

Monday Buzz: "Millennial Makeover" in NYT's Top 10 of 2008, the New Voters, Electron Superhighways, and More

It was a banner week for NDN fellows Morley Winograd and Mike Hais: their book, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube & the Future of American Politics, was named one of the top 10 books of 2008 by New York Times' Michiko Kakutani. From the Times feature:

In what turns out to have been a highly prescient book, the two authors predicted that 2008 would be a “change” election, informed by new technology and by the outlook of a new generation of millennial voters, who tend to be more inclusive, optimistic and tech-savvy than their elders.

Their work on Millennials was also featured in MarketWatch, the Toledo Blade, and the National Journal. The National Journal piece, "Where are the New Voters?", also features NDN's work on Hispanic issues:

"It's another indication that America went through a civic realignment in 2008," said Morley Winograd, a fellow with the progressive think tank and activist group NDN, and co-author of Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics. Hispanic voters, too, have swung decisively to Democrats, NDN experts note, and increased their share of the electorate by 62 percent in Colorado, 50 percent in Nevada, and 28 percent in New Mexico.

Michael's recent essay, "Building the Electron Superhighway," was featured in the Huffington Post and Grist.

Rob was quoted in Forbes on President-elect Obama's economic team:

Rob Shapiro, an economist who was a top official in Clinton's Commerce Department, said Obama's selection of Geithner and Summers, as well as his wooing of Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state, reflect Obama's interest in attracting expertise and people of strong will.

"It tells you that not only does President-elect Obama have respect for expertise, but that he is very comfortable in an administration with very major figures," said Shapiro, now an official with NDN, a think tank formerly known as the New Democratic Network.

Rob also was featured in the Huffington Post, Carbon Tax Center, and Computer Weekly.

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