Agenda for the Nation

Brookings Institution Press
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More powerful and affluent today than ever, the United States has promising opportunities to influence the course of history. Yet these prospects are shadowed by significant perils and burdens. In this visionary book, leading scholars from the Brookings Institution and other prominent research organizations and universities analyze the major domestic and foreign policy problems facing the nation over the next five to ten years. The challenges on the domestic front are formidable: assuring fair but affordable access to health care, shoring up retirement income for an aging population, encouraging long-term economic growth, easing the growing pains of an increasingly diverse society, and reconciling energy policies with environmental concerns. In international affairs the central task is to use America's unprecedented power wisely and to protect a homeland that has been revealed as surprisingly vulnerable. Yet efforts must also focus on improving the economic fortunes of poorer countries, expanding trade, and reforming the rules that regulate the flows of capital across national borders. Is the United States government capable of rising to these vast and varied challenges? The concluding chapters of this book offer cautious optimism. While it is often criticized, the American political system is fundamentally resilient and flexible. Ambitious in scope, Agenda for the Nation provides thoughtful, constructive answers to questions of how the U.S. government can effectively serve its citizens and meet its global responsibilities in a world of opportunity and uncertainty.
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About the author

Henry J. Aaron is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, where he holds the Bruce and Virginia MacLaury Chair. Among his many books are Can We Say No? The Challenge of Rationing Health Care, with William B. Schwartz and Melissa Cox (Brookings, 2006), and Reforming Medicare: Options,Tradeoffs, and Opportunities, written with Jeanne Lambrew (Brookings, 2008). James M. Lindsay is vice president and director of studies of the Council on Foreign Relations, where he holds the Maurice R. Greenberg Chair. He was previously deputy director and senior fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. His books include Defending America: The Case for Limited National Missile Defense (Brookings 2001). In 1996-97, Lindsay was director for global issues and multilateral affairs on the National Security Council staff. Pietro S. Nivola is a vice president of the Brookings Institution, where he is the director of Governance Studies. Among his previous books are Tense Commandments: Federal Prescriptions and City Problems (Brookings, 2002).

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Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Jul 29, 2003
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Pages
432
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ISBN
9780815796053
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / American Government / General
Political Science / International Relations / Diplomacy
Political Science / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
Political Science / Public Policy / General
Political Science / Security (National & International)
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This content is DRM protected.
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A harrowing exploration of the collapse of American diplomacy and the abdication of global leadership, by the winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service.

US foreign policy is undergoing a dire transformation, forever changing America’s place in the world. Institutions of diplomacy and development are bleeding out after deep budget cuts; the diplomats who make America’s deals and protect its citizens around the world are walking out in droves. Offices across the State Department sit empty, while abroad the military-industrial complex has assumed the work once undertaken by peacemakers. We’re becoming a nation that shoots first and asks questions later.

In an astonishing journey from the corridors of power in Washington, DC, to some of the most remote and dangerous places on earth—Afghanistan, Somalia, and North Korea among them—acclaimed investigative journalist Ronan Farrow illuminates one of the most consequential and poorly understood changes in American history. His firsthand experience as a former State Department official affords a personal look at some of the last standard bearers of traditional statecraft, including Richard Holbrooke, who made peace in Bosnia and died while trying to do so in Afghanistan.

Drawing on newly unearthed documents, and richly informed by rare interviews with warlords, whistle-blowers, and policymakers—including every living former secretary of state from Henry Kissinger to Hillary Clinton to Rex Tillerson—War on Peace makes a powerful case for an endangered profession. Diplomacy, Farrow argues, has declined after decades of political cowardice, shortsightedness, and outright malice—but it may just offer America a way out of a world at war.

Academic medical centers provide cutting edge acute care, train tomorrow's physicians, and carry out research that will expand the range of treatable and curable illnesses. But these centers themselves may need urgent care—experts generally agree that many are suffering acute—even life-threatening—financial distress. Many academic medical centers are suffering for several reasons: in-patient admissions are down, as many procedures that once required a hospital stay are now performed on an out-patient basis or in a physician's office ; managed care plans have negotiated discounted fees that cut hospital operating margins; the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 curtailed Medicare reimbursements, lowered margins and pushed some into the red; the revolution in information technology is imposing large new capital costs; and the character of medical education is receiving its most thorough review in decades. While there is a general consensus that medical centers are under pressure, experts disagree about the depth and pervasiveness of the current financial distress. Are they whining about financial pressures other, less-favored sectors find routine; or is the high quality American teaching hospital becoming an endangered species—that could face extinction if nothing is done. Because academic medical centers perform such important jobs, it is critical to determine the true nature and depth of their current financial problems—and then fashion analytically sound and politically sustainable solutions. This book brings together chief executive officers of major medical centers, university presidents, senior members of Congressional and executive office staffs, and leading analysts. These experts address the key issues and prescribe remedies both regulatory and legislative to ensure that the teaching hospital remains a picture of financial health. Contributors include Nancy Kane (Harvard School of Public Health), Jamie Reuter (Institute for Health Care Research Policy, Georgetown University), Peter van Etten (Juvenile Diabetes Foundation), Ralph Muller (University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System), James Robinson (School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley), David Blumenthal (Institute for Health Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital), Edward Miller (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Spencer Foreman (Montefiore Medical Center), Lawrence Lewin (Lewin Group), Gail Wilensky (Project HOPE), Robert Dickler (American Association of Medical Colleges), and Kenneth Shine (Institute of Medicine).
In this New York Times bestseller, updated for 2016, an award-winning journalist uses ten maps of crucial regions to explain the geo-political strategies of the world powers—“fans of geography, history, and politics (and maps) will be enthralled” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram).

Maps have a mysterious hold over us. Whether ancient, crumbling parchments or generated by Google, maps tell us things we want to know, not only about our current location or where we are going but about the world in general. And yet, when it comes to geo-politics, much of what we are told is generated by analysts and other experts who have neglected to refer to a map of the place in question.

All leaders of nations are constrained by geography. In “one of the best books about geopolitics” (The Evening Standard), now updated to include 2016 geopolitical developments, journalist Tim Marshall examines Russia, China, the US, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Japan, Korea, and Greenland and the Arctic—their weather, seas, mountains, rivers, deserts, and borders—to provide a context often missing from our political reportage: how the physical characteristics of these countries affect their strengths and vulnerabilities and the decisions made by their leaders.

Offering “a fresh way of looking at maps” (The New York Times Book Review), Marshall explains the complex geo-political strategies that shape the globe. Why is Putin so obsessed with Crimea? Why was the US destined to become a global superpower? Why does China’s power base continue to expand? Why is Tibet destined to lose its autonomy? Why will Europe never be united? The answers are geographical. “In an ever more complex, chaotic, and interlinked world, Prisoners of Geography is a concise and useful primer on geopolitics” (Newsweek) and a critical guide to one of the major determining factors in world affairs.
In the early 1960s America was in a confident mood and embarked on a series of efforts to solve the problems of poverty, racial discrimination, unemployment, and inequality of educational opportunity. The programs of the Great Society and the War on Poverty were undergirded by a broad consensus about what our problems as a nation were and how we should solve them. But by the early seventies both political and scholarly tides had shifted. Americans were divided and uncertain about what to do abroad, fearful of military inferiority, and pessimistic about the capacity of government to deal affirmatively with domestic problems. A new administration renounced the rhetoric of the Great Society and changed the emphasis of many programs. On the scholarly front, new research called into question the old faiths on which liberal legislation had been based.

In this book, the sixteenth volume in the Brookings series in Social Economics, Henry Aaron describes both the initial consensus and its subsequent decline. He examines the evolution of attitude and pronouncements by scholars and popular writers on the role of the federal government and its capacity to bring about beneficial change in three broad areas: poverty and discrimination, education and training, and unemployment and inflation. He argues that the political eclipse of the Great Society depended more on events external to it—war in Vietnam, dissolution of the civil rights coalition, and, finally, the Watergate scandal and all its repercussions—than on its intrinsic failings. Aaron concludes that both the initial commitment to use national polices to solve social and economic problems and the subsequent disillusionment of scholars and laymen alike rest largely on preconceptions and faiths that have little to do with research themselves.

During the past decade, dozens of large cities lost population as jobs and people kept moving to the suburbs. Despite widespread urban revitalization and renewal, one fact remains unmistakable: when choosing where to live and work, Americans prefer the suburbs to the cities. Many underlying causes of the urban predicament are familiar: disproportionate poverty, stiff city tax rates, and certain unsatisfactory municipal services (most notably, public schools). Less recognized is the distinct possibility that sometimes the regulatory policies of the federal government—the rules and rulings imposed by its judges, bureaucrats, and lawmakers—further disadvantage the cities, ultimately burdening their ability to attract residents and businesses. In Tense Commandments, Pietro S. Nivola encourages renewed reflection on the suitable balance between national and local domains. He examines an array of directive or supervisory methods by which federal policymakers narrow local autonomy and complicate the work urban governments are supposed to do. Urban taxpayers finance many costly projects that are prescribed by federal law. A handful of national rules bore down on local governments before 1965. Today these governments labor under hundreds of so-called unfunded mandates. Federal aid to large cities has lagged behind a profusion of mandated expenditures, at times straining municipal budgets. Apart from their fiscal impacts, Nivola argues, various federal prescriptions impinge on local administration of routine services, tying the hands of managers and complicating city improvements. Nivola includes case studies of six cities: Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He describes the "politics of paternalism," the political pressures that federal regulations place on governance. Then he offers comparisons with various political systems abroad, including Germany, the U.K., France, and Italy. As the nation and its cities brace for a long and arduous effort to combat terrorism, Nivola recommends that federal mandates be evaluated with a standard question: are they socially beneficial, or do they deprive localities of discretion, distort legitimate local priorities, and perhaps misallocate resources? In today's intricate federal system, the unencumbered capacity of governments at all levels to define their roles and concentrate on their core functions and responsibilities seems urgent.
During the past decade, dozens of large cities lost population as jobs and people kept moving to the suburbs. Despite widespread urban revitalization and renewal, one fact remains unmistakable: when choosing where to live and work, Americans prefer the suburbs to the cities. Many underlying causes of the urban predicament are familiar: disproportionate poverty, stiff city tax rates, and certain unsatisfactory municipal services (most notably, public schools). Less recognized is the distinct possibility that sometimes the regulatory policies of the federal government—the rules and rulings imposed by its judges, bureaucrats, and lawmakers—further disadvantage the cities, ultimately burdening their ability to attract residents and businesses. In Tense Commandments, Pietro S. Nivola encourages renewed reflection on the suitable balance between national and local domains. He examines an array of directive or supervisory methods by which federal policymakers narrow local autonomy and complicate the work urban governments are supposed to do. Urban taxpayers finance many costly projects that are prescribed by federal law. A handful of national rules bore down on local governments before 1965. Today these governments labor under hundreds of so-called unfunded mandates. Federal aid to large cities has lagged behind a profusion of mandated expenditures, at times straining municipal budgets. Apart from their fiscal impacts, Nivola argues, various federal prescriptions impinge on local administration of routine services, tying the hands of managers and complicating city improvements. Nivola includes case studies of six cities: Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He describes the "politics of paternalism," the political pressures that federal regulations place on governance. Then he offers comparisons with various political systems abroad, including Germany, the U.K., France, and Italy. As the nation and its cities brace for a long and arduous effort to combat terrorism, Nivola recommends that federal mandates be evaluated with a standard question: are they socially beneficial, or do they deprive localities of discretion, distort legitimate local priorities, and perhaps misallocate resources? In today's intricate federal system, the unencumbered capacity of governments at all levels to define their roles and concentrate on their core functions and responsibilities seems urgent.
For decades, concerns have been raised about the consequences of relentless suburban expansion in the United States. But so far, government programs to control urban sprawl have had little effect in slowing it down, much less stopping it. In this book, Pietro S. Nivola raises important questions about the continued suburbanization of America: Is suburban growth just the result of market forces, or have government policies helped induce greater sprawl? How much of the government intervention has been undesirable, and what has been beneficial? And, if suburban growth is to be controlled, what changes in public policies would be not only effective, but practical?

Nivola addresses these questions by comparing sprawling U.S. metropolitan areas to compact development patterns in Europe. He contrasts the effects of traditional urban programs, as well as "accidental urban policies" that have a profound if commonly unrecognized impact on cities, including national tax systems, energy conservation efforts, agricultural supports, and protection from international commerce.

Nivola also takes a hard look at the traditional solutions of U.S. urban policy agenda involving core-area reconstruction projects, mass transit investments, "smart" growth controls, and metropolitan organizational rearrangements, and details the reasons why they often don't work. He concludes by recommending reforms for key U.S. policies--from taxes to transportation to federal regulations--based on the successes and failures of the European experience.

Brookings Metropolitan Series

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