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States, Metro Areas Outdo Washington

Editor's note: Judith Rodin and Bruce Katz discuss key points in a newly released interactive report, "Innovations to Watch." Rodin and Katz highlight state and metropolitan governments that encourage economic growth, productivity, sustainability, and global reach through innovative initiatives. Read the full article at cnn.com.

With its past-midnight resolution (at least temporarily) of the fiscal cliff, Washington gave us a clearer picture of what the next two to four years of federal action might look like: Lengthy periods of legislative gridlock, persistent partisan finger-pointing and short bursts of incremental activity that ultimately fail to resolve the major national challenges at hand.

And those challenges are substantial. Our country is still struggling to fully recover from the Great Recession. More than 12 million Americans are still out of work, and 107 million Americans are considered poor or near poor (up from 81 million a decade ago). The United States ranks 16th in the world in infrastructure quality, with one in four bridges in America considered structurally deficient. And our education system is no longer keeping our kids competitive, leaving 15-year-old American students ranked 31st in math and 23rd in science.

But as has happened time and again throughout American history, our greatest innovations come at times of greatest challenge. True to form, inaction from the federal government has sparked the innovation of states, cities and metropolitan areas that are teeming with smart, pragmatic bipartisan solutions to national economic challenges.

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