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Opportunity 08

Independent Ideas for America's Next President

edited by Michael E. O'Hanlon

Publication Year: 2007

American voters say they want to hear more about the issues and less about partisan politics. An unusually wide-open presidential race presents a unique opening for frank discussion and innovative solutions to pressing policy challenges. Opportunity 08 takes advantage of this political space to help presidential candidates, political observers, and the informed public focus on critical issues facing the nation. Opportunity 08 tackles a broad range of issues, organized under three categories: Our World, Our Society, and Our Prosperity. On the latter, for example, Brookings scholar Isabel Sawhill joins former Congressmen Bill Frenzel (R) and Charles Stenholm (D) and longtime budget counsel Bill Hoagland to provide a clear picture of the American budget deficit situation and what should be done about it. Sawhill also collaborates with Ron Haskins on a plan to provide greater support for education, work, and marriage. Hugh Price puts forth a strategy (and price tag) for boosting academic achievement among American schoolchildren. Brookings scholar Henry Aaron and Harvard professor Joseph Newhouse describe America's health care predicament and discuss options for expanding coverage and reducing costs. Mark McClellan, until recently the administrator of Medicare and Medicaid, takes another angle on the same subject, In the realm of international affairs, Jeffrey Bader and Richard Bush as well as former Bush administration official Michael Green discuss how best to deal with China. Jeremy Shapiro calls for a more analytic and threat-based approach to homeland security, arguing that many proposals are too ambitious and costly. On the Middle East, Martin Indyk and Tamara Cofman Wittes emphasize the need for a moderate coalition that will counter Iran's ambitions in the region, while also discussing political reform in Arab states and the Arab-Israeli peace process. Peter Rodman, until recently a Bush administration Pentagon official, also addresses the challenge posed by a radical Iran. These are just a few of the critical issues and renowned authors included in this timely book. Insightful, informed, and independent, Opportunity 08 truly is Brookings at its best.

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Cover Page

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-xiii

American presidential election years are always important, but the one that will be held a year from now—on November 4, 2008—is special. Despite all the differences among them, the candidates seeking the Democratic and Republican nominations have one thing in common: none is an incumbent president or vice president. ...

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Chapter 1: Big Ideas for the 2008 Race

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pp. 1-3

The 2008 presidential race started extremely early. That may or may not be a good thing; Americans may get sick of politics well before they actually cast their votes. But the long process could be constructive if it allows us to engage in a sustained debate over issues and agendas for the nation. ...

Part I: Our World

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pp. 5

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Chapter 2: Countering Iran's Revolutionary Challenge: A strategy for the Next Phase

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pp. 7-20

Iran is a revolutionary power, still in an exuberant phase of its revolution. Geopolitically it seeks to dominate the Gulf; ideologically it challenges the legitimacy of moderate governments in the region. Indeed, Iran aspires to be the leader of Islamist radicalism in the Muslim world as a whole. ...

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Chapter 3: Engaging the Muslim World: A Communication Strategy to Win the War of Ideas

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pp. 21-37

A critical pillar of success in the war on terrorism is restoring the world’s trust in America’s word. Fortifying this pillar should be a top priority of the next president, with a special focus on relations with the Muslim world. ...

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Chapter 4: Contending with the Rise of China: Build on Three Decades of Progress

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pp. 38-50

China’s rise may pose the most important foreign policy challenge to the United States in the twenty-first century. Chinese economic expansion of 10 percent annually offers exciting export and import opportunities—accompanied by profound economic, military, and political risks. ...

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Chapter 5: Constructing a Successful China Strategy: Promote Balance and Democratic Ideals in Asia

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pp. 51-62

Historians may ultimately judge the next U.S. president more on how his or her administration managed the rise of China than on how they fought the war on terrorism. The convergence of the Beijing Olympics and the U.S. party conventions in the summer of 2008 will ensure that China policy becomes an issue in the U.S. presidential race. ...

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Chapter 6: Tackling Trade and Climate Change: Leadership on the Home Front of Foreign Policy

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pp. 63-79

For the next president, effective leadership abroad will depend largely on marshalling bipartisan support for foreign policy at home. Combating terrorism; constricting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; reducing global poverty; promoting an efficient, equitable world trading system; and reversing the process of climate change...

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Chapter 7: Ending Oil Dependence: Protecting National Security, the Environment, and the Economy

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pp. 80-95

Plug-in hybrid engines, biofuels, and other technologies can help end the United States’ oil dependence in a generation. Doing so would provide important national security and environmental and economic benefits. ...

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Chapter 8: Waning Chances for Stability: Navigating Bad Options in Iraq

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pp. 96-113

Iraq is a failed state ensnared in a civil war. About 2 million refugees have fled the country, and another 2.2 million people have been displaced internally. The war has taken thousands of American lives and cost hundreds of billions of dollars. ...

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Chapter 9: Back to Balancing in the Middle East: A New Strategy for Constructive Engagement

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pp. 114-132

A new Sunni-Shi’a fault line and a significant decline in U.S. influence frame the challenge to Middle East policy for the next president. That challenge requires a return to balance-of-power diplomacy and a better balancing of interests and values to contain the Iraq civil...

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Chapter 10: Bent but Not Broken: How the Next Commander in Chief Can Prevent the Breaking of the U.S. Military

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pp. 133-161

The good news for the next president is that he or she will become commander in chief of a military that is unmatched in its power and capability by any other nation’s armed forces in history. The bad news is that this excellence is under siege. ...

Part II: Our Society

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pp. 163

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Chapter 11: Empowering Moderate Voters: Implement an Instant Runoff Strategy

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pp. 165-170

U.S. elections and the conduct of elected representatives in recent years have been characterized by excessive partisanship that impedes their performance and, more important, thwarts the fundamental purposes of representative government. ...

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Chapter 12: Rethinking U.S. Rental Housing Policy: Build on State and Local Innovations

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pp. 171-184

In recent years, housing has all but disappeared from national debate. But while federal policymakers focus their attention elsewhere, the country’s housing challenges are changing in ways that not only affect an expanding segment of the population, but also undermine other top domestic priorities. ...

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Chapter 13: Attacking Poverty and Inequality: Reinvigorate the Fight for Greater Opportunity

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pp. 185-198

Although the nation’s poverty rate is higher now than it was in the 1970s, no president since Lyndon Johnson has made fighting poverty a major plank of his campaign or a goal of his administration. ...

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Chapter 14: Pathways to the Middle Class: Ensuring Greater Upward Mobility for All Americans

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pp. 199-213

Middle-class prosperity is the cornerstone of the American Dream. Americans believe that through hard work and education families can enter the middle class and keep on climbing. However, recent evidence shows that, even with a rebounding U.S. economy, working-...

Part III: Our Prosperity

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pp. 215

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Chapter 15: Taming the Deficit: Forge a Grand Compromise for a Sustainable Future

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pp. 217-232

This paper presents detailed proposals to illustrate what a defensible deficit reduction package might contain. None of the authors entirely support every component, but the package as a whole shows that it is possible for people of good will to come together and produce a deficit reduction plan that gets the job done.

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Chapter 16: Realistic Approaches to Head Off a U.S. Economic Crisis

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pp. 233-248

An honest assessment of the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook almost makes one wonder why, in 2008, so many people are interested in being elected president. And why so little attention is being paid to a problem that budget analysts of diverse perspectives routinely describe as “unsustainable.” ...

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Chapter 17: Extending Deregulation: Make the U.S. Economy More Efficient

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pp. 249-261

Since the 1970s, deregulation has succeeded in increasing overall economic welfare and sharply reducing prices, generally by about 30 percent, for transportation—including air travel, rail transportation, and trucking—and for natural gas and telecommunications. ...

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Chapter 18: Strengthening Higher Education: Simplify Student Aid and Emphasize Vital Science, Math, and Language Skills

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pp. 262-275

The importance of higher education to the future of the nation can hardly be exaggerated. Economic growth and responsible political participation increasingly depend on a well-read and scientifically literate citizenry. ...

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Chapter 19: Meeting the Dilemma of Health Care Access: Extending Insurance Coverage while Controlling Costs

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pp. 276-287

Health care is the nation’s largest—and, in many respects, most important—industry. It accounts for a large share of the nation’s economy and is a major source of employment, to be sure, but by improving people’s health and reducing disability, it promotes productiv-...

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Chapter 20: Meeting the Challenge of Health Care Quality: Achieve Reforms in Medicare, Quality, and Malpractice

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pp. 288-302

The cost of the U.S. health care system is high and rising at unsustainable rates, and a growing number of Americans have inadequate health insurance or none at all. The American public has a right to expect all presidential candidates to address the overall problem of rising...

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Chapter 21: Slowing the Growth of Health Spending: We Need Mixed Strategies, and We Need to Start Now

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pp. 303-320

Americans are deeply concerned about paying their mounting bills for health care. This is true whether they have private insurance or public (Medicare or Medicaid)—and certainly for the 46 million with no insurance at all. The federal government’s health spending, primarily for Medicare and Medicaid, is clearly unsustainable. ...

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Chapter 22: Promoting Retirement Security: Make Saving Easier and More Rewarding

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pp. 321-330

The past twenty-five years have brought a dramatic shift in our nation’s pension system away from defined benefit plans and toward defined contribution accounts, such as 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). ...

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Chapter 23: Fixing the Tax System: Support Fairer, Simpler, and More Adequate Taxation

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pp. 331-341

A good tax system raises the revenues needed to finance government spending in a manner that is as simple, equitable, stable, and conducive to economic growth as possible. But the challenge for the next president will be to make reform work not just in the abstract, but in the real world, where special interests often rule the roost. ...

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Chapter 24: Strengthening U.S. Information Technology: Keep American No. 1 on the Net

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pp. 342-359

Leadership in information technology (IT) is the foundation for U.S. competitiveness and future economic well-being. The Internet is and will be the central medium of information technology today and for the next decade. ...


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pp. 361-362

Index [Includes About the Brookings Institution]

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pp. 363-282

E-ISBN-13: 9780815764663
E-ISBN-10: 0815764669

Page Count: 412
Publication Year: 2007