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In the last 12 months, BPC has launched programs to address housing and nutrition and physical activity issues, renewed our commitment to energy and health policy, and carried on a budding tradition with the Third Annual Political Summit in New Orleans.
On November 15-16, we returned to Tulane University in New Orleans for our Third Annual Political Summit, “Taking the Poison out of Partisanship.” Co-hosts James Carville and Mary Matalin (above) highlighted a cast of current and former elected officials, national political strategists and prominent journalists. Panel discussions on the summit’s second day explored how Democrats and Republicans can come together even as partisanship ramps up ahead of the 2012 elections. View photos and video from the summit here.
In April, we launched our new Energy Project. Former Senators Trent Lott and Byron Dorgan, General Jim Jones (ret.) and Oil Spill Commission Co-Chair William K. Reilly are leading the project, which focuses on key national energy policy issues, including energy security, supply, reliability, cost, and sustainability. In September, the American Energy and Innovation Council (AEIC), a group of America’s top business leaders, released its second report, Catalyzing American Ingenuity. The report highlights the need for an active government role in energy innovation. AEIC members include Bill Gates, Norm Augustine, Ursula Burns (above, with Gates), John Doerr, Chad Holliday, Jeff Immelt and Tim Solso.
Months before super committee frenzy overtook Washington, BPC's Debt Reduction Task Force, led by Senator Pete Domenici and Dr. Alice Rivlin (the pair are shown above testifying before the super committee), urged Congress and the president to put forth a package to spur economic growth, stabilize the debt, protect and restructure major entitlement programs and implement pro-growth tax reform. Despite our disappointment in the super committee’s failure to reach a bipartisan agreement that addresses the largest drivers of our debt, BPC's task force will continue to advocate for a grand bargain to reassure the American public, the markets and the world that our political process can still function when we need it most.
BPC’s Health Project traveled to Austin, Texas in October for a policy event in collaboration with the Seton Healthcare Family, the “Healthy Ideas Showcase: Changing the Way Health Care is Delivered.” The event brought together state, federal and local leaders to discuss health care innovation in the state of Texas. We focused on progress in health professional workforce development and new models of care enabled by health information technology (IT). The Health Project, in collaboration with Seton Healthcare Family and the Texas e-Health Alliance, hosted its first Health Innovation Exchange. Thirteen innovations were selected and featured at the event in Austin.
In May, the National Security Project rolled out its report, A Stitch in Time: Stabilizing Fragile States. The event featured former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (above) and two panel discussions on the report’s findings and recommendations. President Uribe discussed his accomplishments in reversing Colombia's slide toward state failure during his two terms as president from 2002 to 2010.
The report recommends ways the U.S. government can provide effective stabilization assistance to fragile states that imperil its strategic interests, including Pakistan, Yemen and Nigeria. Co-authored by former Ambassador Paula Dobriansky and Admiral (ret.) Gregory Johnson, it examines the shortcomings of current U.S. foreign policy and calls for the U.S. government to make "conceptual, strategic and organizational reforms" to prevent, rather than react to, the urgent threats caused by failed states.
In August, the National Security Preparedness Group (NSPG) issued a widely-cited report card on the implementation of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. NSPG Co-Chairs Governor Tom Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton highlighted nine of the 41 Commission recommendations that have not been sufficiently implemented in the decade since the attacks. Along with Kean and Hamilton, commission members Fred Fielding, Senator Slade Gorton, Secretary John Lehman and Governor James Thompson participated in a panel discussion moderated by Ann Compton of ABC News.
In June, the National Transportation Policy Project (NTTP) issued a major report that presents a near-term solution for restructuring the federal surface transportation program. The proposal recommends policy and investment decisions given the current fiscal and political realities we face. The new report builds on the framework of NTPP's 2009 report, A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy.
Throughout the year, the Democracy Project partnered with the Aspen Institute to host a series of roundtable discussions, "Conversations on Civility: Making Our Democracy Work," to discuss improving our democracy and civic health. The series examined the breakdown of our nation’s civil discourse and how this trend influences future political leaders. Each roundtable identified opportunities for educators, business leaders and policymakers to forge a more robust, active and politically engaged citizenry.
Since the housing bubble burst in 2006, the wealth of American homeowners has fallen by more than $9 trillion, or nearly 40 percent. The strength of the housing industry has a substantial impact on our economic recovery, affecting consumer spending, homebuilding, banking and local tax revenues.
In October, BPC launched the Housing Commission to address the long-term challenges facing a struggling housing sector. Former U.S. Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros and Mel Martinez, and former U.S. Senators Kit Bond and George Mitchell, a BPC co-founder, lead the effort. The Commission's final recommendations will be released in early 2013 for consideration by the administration and Congress.
As the federal government approached its debt limit last summer, we released a clock to countdown the time remaining ahead of the August 2 deadline. The clock, featured prominently on BPC’s homepage, included the days, hours, minutes, and seconds left before the Treasury Department would have been forced to prioritize spending if no deal had been reached. Visitors to BPC’s website could easily use the clock’s embeddable code to add the widget to their own site or blog. Social media links were also provided, which allowed Facebook and Twitter users to send the latest clock reading to their followers.
BPC’s Debt Limit Analysis found that 44 percent of U.S. government bills would go unpaid if the federal government failed to raise the debt ceiling by the August 2 deadline. The analysis also showed that an uncertain economic environment would ensue if Treasury restrained spending to remain under the debt limit.
High and rising health care costs consume a large and rapidly growing portion of the federal budget, crowding out investments in other crucial priorities such as education, defense and infrastructure and putting pressure on other priorities of households, businesses and governments.