Campaign 2012

Campaign 2012: Twelve Independent Ideas for Improving American Public Policy

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 236
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  • Book Info
    Campaign 2012
    Book Description:

    Campaign 2012: Twelve Independent Ideas for Improving American Public Policyis an indispensable guide to the questions facing White House hopefuls in 2012, as well as the challenges awaiting the winner. It presents authoritative analyses of a dozen key policy issues currently testing the nation:

    -domestic economic growth

    -America's role in the world

    -the budget deficit

    -China relations

    -health care

    -Afghanistan and Pakistan



    -reforming government institutions

    -the Middle East

    -climate change


    This is truly Brookings at its best -independent expert analysis, presented in an accessible manner and offering viable solutions.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2199-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Twelve in ’12
    (pp. 1-6)

    As the 2008 presidential campaign got under way nearly five years ago, the Brookings Institution launched an institution-wide initiative called Opportunity 08. The project’s purpose, Brookings president Strobe Talbott wrote in his foreword to the ensuing book,Opportunity 08: Independent Ideas for America’s Next President, was to “help the public and presidential candidates focus on critical issues facing the nation and to produce ideas, information, and policy forums on a broad range of domestic and foreign policy questions.” The 2008 campaign was unique in modern U.S. history. “Despite all the differences among them,” as Talbott noted, “the candidates seeking the...

  5. PART I At Home

    • 1 Restoring Economic Growth: The Next President Must Nurse a Fragile Recovery
      (pp. 9-26)

      James Carville famously remarked of the 1992 election, “It’s the economy stupid!” and the same will be true of the 2012 election. When President Barack Obama came into office, he embraced the challenge of turning the economy around. The policies he followed to stabilize the banks and provide stimulus to a tumbling economy were the correct ones and succeeded in stopping the collapse. Unfortunately, Obama and his economic team were overoptimistic about how fast a full recovery could be achieved.An extended period of slow growth was inevitable, given the severity of the crisis and recession. There should have been...

    • 2 Tackling the Budget Deficit: The Next President Must Solve the U.S. Deficit Crisis
      (pp. 27-42)

      The two biggest issues in the 2012 election are the economy and the deficit. Opinions vary on which issue should take priority, but polls show that Americans put both issues at the top of those they want their new president to address. Not surprisingly, all the Republican candidates and President Obama have promised that they will reduce the nation’s deficit in the near future. Although none of the Republican candidates have laid out a detailed plan for deficit reduction, all of them would cut spending deeply and none would increase taxes. President Obama, by contrast, has consistently called for both...

    • 3 Curing Health Care: The Next President Should Complete, Not Abandon, Obama’s Reform
      (pp. 43-60)

      Health care reform was a prominent issue in the 2008 campaign, dominated the congressional agenda for much of 2009, and culminated in landmark health care legislation in 2010. So that was settled, and no one has to think about health care policy in 2012, right? Wrong. It’s back. Health care is still high on the political agenda and destined to be one of the most polarizing issues of the 2012 campaign.

      In his presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama promised health care coverage for the uninsured and action to rein in the rapidly rising health costs. “I will judge my first...

    • 4 Remaking Federalism to Remake the Economy: The Next President Should Harness the Power of States and Metros
      (pp. 61-78)

      The 2012 presidential election will be defined and dominated by the economic challenges that persist an incredible thirty-three months after the formal end of the Great Recession. At the most basic level, the United States needsmore jobs—11.3 million by one estimate—to recover the jobs lost during the downturn and keep pace with population growth and labor market dynamics. Beyond pure job growth, the United States needsbetter jobs, to improve wages and incomes for lower-and middleclass workers and to reverse the troubling decades-long rise in inequality.

      To achieve these twin goals, the United States needs to restructure...

    • 5 Reforming Institutions: The Next President Should Not Miss This Moment to Make Government Work
      (pp. 79-96)

      Institutional reform was not a central plank of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, which had no eye-catching equivalent of Bill Clinton’s promise to “reinvent government.” Nor has it been the centerpiece of Obama’s administration—or of the Republican critique of his administration. And in all likelihood, it will not play a major role in the 2012 campaign.

      Rather, the candidates, the experts, and the pundits, when asked “What should the next president do?” will likely respond with lists of policies, often mixed with stylistic and political suggestions. Institutional reform is not going to catch voter fancy; it sounds too much...

  6. PART II Abroad

    • 6 Reviving American Leadership: The Next President Should Continue on the Path Obama Has Set
      (pp. 99-115)

      In April 2009 President Barack Obama announced: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. . . . I see no contradiction between believing that America has a continued extraordinary role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity and recognizing that that leadership is incumbent, depends on, our ability to create partnerships.” Though Obama meant it as an endorsement of burden sharing, Republican candidates in 2012 have latched on to this comment, arguing loudly and often that not only is America special, but that conservatives...

    • 7 Establishing Credibility and Trust: The Next President Must Manage America’s Most Important Relationship
      (pp. 116-131)

      The U.S.-China relationship seems certain to be a dominant issue in any foreign and defense policy debate during the 2012 presidential campaign. Although foreign policy in general appears unlikely to become a major focus of this year’s election, the distinctions between foreign and domestic policy are not always clear-cut, especially when many see China’s primary challenge to the United States as more economic than strategic. Both parties have placed America’s relations with the Asia-Pacific region at the center of their foreign policy priorities, with clear expectations that China’s economic weight, strategic intentions, and military capabilities will increasingly impact on U.S....

    • 8 Slogging Through: The Next President Must Address the Crisis in Afghanistan and Pakistan
      (pp. 132-150)

      In 2008 Barack Obama ran for president arguing that Afghanistan and Pakistan were the most crucial national security issues for the United States and that he would prioritize his attention and the nation’s resources in their direction if elected. His reasons began with the fact that Afghanistan, where the 9/11 attacks were planned, was the preferred sanctuary for al Qaeda. In addition, Afghanistan offered huge swaths of land where al Qaeda and other extremist groups—mainly Pakistan’s own Taliban, which seeks to destabilize that country, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which seeks to attack India—would likely take refuge if the Afghan Taliban...

    • 9 Keeping Iran in Check: The Next President Must Focus on Achievable Goals
      (pp. 151-168)

      The question of what to do about the Islamic Republic of Iran has proved a reliable feature of American campaign debates for more than three decades. This reflects U.S. policymakers’ abiding concern surrounding the threats posed by Tehran’s nuclear program, support for terrorism, and repression of the democratic aspirations of its people. Beyond the tangible dimensions of the Iranian challenge, the history of Tehran’s tormented relationship with Washington entails a special resonance with the American electorate and a pointed relevance for aspirants to political office, who are all too familiar with the fallout from the hostage crisis and the Iran-Contra...

    • 10 Prioritizing Democracy: How the Next President Should Re-orient U.S. Policy in the Middle East
      (pp. 169-186)

      It seems unlikely that U.S. policy toward the Middle East will get much attention during the 2012 presidential campaign, especially when it comes to the epochal transformations under way in the Arab world, colloquially referred to as the “Arab Spring.” It received painfully little airtime as the various Republican contenders jostled for their party nomination. There may be some discussion of how best to confront Iran. If Iraq slides back into civil war, as seems ever more possible, there may be some painful debates over who “lost” it. And Republicans have routinely attacked Barack Obama for being insufficiently supportive of...

  7. PART III Worldwide

    • 11 Addressing Climate Policy: The Next President Should Link a Carbon Tax to Fiscal and Environmental Reform
      (pp. 189-203)

      Both presidential candidates in 2008 campaigned for an economy-wide cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases as the centerpiece of climate policy. Senator John McCain was an early and frequent supporter of cap-and-trade, cosponsoring a number of such bills, including the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003 and the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007. He campaigned on an economy-wide cap-and-trade plan to reduce U.S. carbon emissions to 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. As a senator, Barack Obama never sponsored any climate bills, but in his campaign he proposed to reduce U.S. carbon emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels...

    • 12 Keeping on Offense: The Next President Should Keep After al Qaeda but Mend Relations With Congress on Terrorism
      (pp. 204-220)

      At the dawn of the Obama administration, counterterrorism seemed to be one of the new president’s biggest weaknesses. Unlike the preceding administration, which repeatedly emphasized that it was keeping America safe from a post–September 11 homeland attack, Barack Obama promised during the campaign to “restore the rule of law” and “close Guantánamo,” in other words, to smooth off the hard edges of the war on terror. Within months of taking office, Obama found his various moves in this direction thwarted by opponents who painted the new president as weak. Two near-miss terrorist attacks domestically—one on an airplane, the...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 221-224)
  9. Index
    (pp. 225-236)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-238)