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Policymaking and the New President

Advice to President Obama

Urban Institute experts offer their advice on evidence-based policymaking and the domestic issues ahead for President Obama and the 111th Congress.

Tax and Budget Policy in Year 1
Len Burman

Len BurmanAs your sometimes pal, Bill Clinton, likes to say, “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.” The immediate priority for the administration must be to extricate the country from the perilous economic situation the financial market meltdown has created, but the short-term actions we take now should not exacerbate the country’s even more serious long-term fiscal problems. Read More


Combat Housing Segregation and Support Diversity
Margery Austin Turner

Margery Austin TurnerIn the four decades since the Fair Housing Act passed, our nation has made important strides toward free and fair housing choice and open and inclusive neighborhoods. But we still have a long way to go. Discrimination persists, limiting the choices open to minority homeseekers. And most neighborhoods remain stubbornly segregated, limiting opportunities for minorities to share fully in social and economic opportunities. Read More


Expand Apprenticeship: A Sensible Way to Train Workers and Increase Their Wages and Mobility
Robert I. Lerman

Robert I. LermanWith the impending recession making matters worse for workers, now is an excellent time to concentrate on training strategies that will help workers take advantage of future job openings, including the greater demand for skilled workers expected in energy and other priority industries. Read More


Tax Priorities: First, Clean Up the Mess; Then Plan for Tax Reform
Eric Toder

Eric ToderThe economy will be in recession and possibly a deep slump when the next president takes office. A new economic stimulus package could help speed recovery in the short run, but would add to an already exploding federal deficit. In the long run (and maybe not so long), the increased debt and unsustainable fiscal path we’re on will cause slow economic growth and put us at risk of losing international investors’ confidence in the dollar and government debt. Read More


Financial Relief and Community Service: Helping Nonprofits Weather the Financial Crisis
Elizabeth Boris

Elizabeth BorisThe financial crisis’ impact on nonprofits is not on policymakers’ radar screens. Bailouts for banks and corporations abound, but not a dime for nonprofits. Yet, these organizations are on the front lines being whipsawed by the downturn in the economy—their resources are shrinking just as demand for the many services they provide mounts. The time is ripe to consider immediate cash and credit relief for hard-hit organizations, along with a robust effort to enhance community service opportunities that would build skills, draw on experience, and benefit organizations and the communities they serve. Read More


Refocus On Rental Housing
Margery Austin Turner

Margery Austin TurnerOver the past decade or more, federal housing policies have primarily promoted homeownership while neglecting the importance of a healthy, affordable rental sector. In many parts of the country, rents for decent homes and apartments are out of reach for low- and moderate-income households, including many who work full-time. And rental options are especially scarce where they are needed most—safe neighborhoods with good schools and access to expanding job opportunities. Read More


Improve Public Safety and Save Money Through Better Reintegration of Ex-Offenders
Jesse Jannetta, Nancy LaVigne, Amy Solomon, and Laura Winterfield

Justice Policy CenterU.S. federal and state prisons house some 1.5 million inmates. More than 700,000 are released each year, but half are back behind bars within three years. More than 5 million people are under community supervision on any given day, yet on average, only two in five complete their terms of supervision. The negative effects are enormous—undermining the safety and well-being of communities and families and draining federal, state, and local budgets. Read More


Governing for Results: Improving Federal Government Performance and Accountability
Harry P. Hatry

Harry P. HatryProviding the best possible government services to our citizens requires accountability and effective measurement of performance. It’s been 15 years since Congress passed the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, which requires each federal agency to develop strategic plans, annual performance plans, and performance reports. The time is right to review the performance improvement process so the new administration can build on, and exceed, previous results. Read more: Brief Version | Full Version


Foreign Aid: Essential to Security, but Not Money Alone
Charles Cadwell

Charles CadwellThe United States has learned a lot in the past eight years about the limits of our influence in “nation building.” Some of these lessons have been costly indeed. But President Bush was right that our national security strategy must include our policy on the development of poor and conflict-torn nations. The new administration should not walk away from this accomplishment of the Bush era even though much about this approach’s execution may not bear continuation. Read More