10 things we learned at Brookings in July

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Here are 10 interesting things we learned from Brookings scholars in July.

1. Transportation and land-use data are more ubiquitous than ever; how will communities respond?

The quality, volume, and types of transportation and land-use data are higher than they have ever been, say Adie Tomer and Ranjitha Shivaram in new research from the Metropolitan Policy Program. From GPS trackers, to geo-located police data, to geotagged photos, “data is better than it has ever been,” however, they argue, “integrating all this data into how we actually plan and build communities—including the transportation systems that move all of us and our goods—will not be easy.

2. The new Forever GI Bill is the largest expansion of college aid for veterans in 10 years

U.S. Marines attend a career and education fair at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego
On July 24, with a 405-0 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the post-9/11 GI Bill, called the “Forever GI” Bill. Elizabeth Mann explains how the largest expansion of college aid for military veterans in a decade compares to past versions of veterans’ education benefits and its potential for reducing the skills gap in the U.S. workforce.

3. Despite massive tax cuts, Kansas’ economy did not grow faster than in previous years

A U.S. Dollar note is seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo.
In 2012, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback instituted a program of sharp cuts to income and business taxes that he pledged would boost the state’s economy. The cuts were recently reversed by the state legislature in veto-proof majorities. Bill Gale says that the failed experiment in supply-side economics should provide a lesson for federal tax reform, namely “not to expect tax cuts to boost the economy much, if at all.”

4. The rise of concentrated poverty, not gentrification, is preventing inclusive economic growth in innovating cities

A view of the downtown skyline in Philadelphia
Jennifer Vey explores the accusation that innovative economic growth in cities will inevitably have a destructive impact on poor residents. She argues that gentrification actually has a positive effect on people of lower incomes in cities, and that it is concentrated poverty that is widening the gap between the people and communities who are succeeding in this economy and those who are not. “Gentrification has many connotations,” she explains, “but all of them assume some degree of change … Change can be worrying … but it is hard to imagine how we build a more inclusive, equitable economy without it.”


The United Nations conference to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination, continues its work through 7 July. (Photo by UN Photo/Manuel Elias)
Bonnie Jenkins reviews the recently-adopted U.N. Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and its notable inclusion of women, NGOs, and education. “[T]he agreement acknowledges the importance of an inclusive process that engages civil society in maintaining international security, one founded on the principle of an educated global citizenry.”

6. Bank capital requirements promote financial and economic stability

A statue of George Washington stands across from the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 21, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly - RTX2W2NM
Regulations under the 2010 Dodd-Frank required banks to hold more capital, but some are now calling for those restrictions to be eased. Nellie Liang discusses the role of bank capital regulations in promoting financial and economic stability, and outlines a growing body of research that is central to understanding capital regulations, credit, and growth. “Some current proposals to reduce [the] regulatory burden have merit,” she says, “but some proposals to scale back capital requirements and stress tests would risk long-run macroeconomic stability.”

7. U.S. foreign assistance is an instrument for peace and prosperity at home and around the globe

2017 Brookings-Blum Roundtable
President Trump’s FY 2018 budget proposal calls for cutting the international affairs budget by 29 percent, and the administration is considering significant organizational restructuring. The Global Economy and Development Program at Brookings has issued its annual Brookings Blum Roundtable report, “U.S. foreign assistance under challenge,” to discuss the issues involved.

8. Poor white Americans are most “worried” in Nevada, Utah, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts

Carol Graham, Sergio Pinto, and John Juneau map the “geography of desperation” in America. They look at data that show in what states are poor (< $24,000 annual income for family of four) whites the least optimistic, and where poor-non-whites (blacks and Hispanics) are more optimistic.

9. Democrats have more registered House challengers for 2018 than the last four election cycles combined

Voting booths are seen during the New York primary elections at a polling station in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., April 19, 2016.
Michael J. Malbin explains that at the end of June 2017, 209 Democratic Congressional challengers had registered with the FEC and raised at least $5,000. That more than doubled the previous high mark since 2003.


Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk on the podium after Lam taking oath, during the 20th anniversary of the city's handover from British to Chinese rule, in Hong Kong, China, July 1, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip - RTS19C33
Richard Bush examines recent efforts by Beijing to target civil and political rights in Hong Kong, including the recent expulsion of pro-democracy legislators from the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, and considers what this may indicate about the future of the “one country, two systems” framework. “At the end of the day,” Bush writes, “a politically viable proposal must ensure a genuinely competitive contest in which the candidates reflect the spectrum of views held by Hong Kong voters.”

Allison Branca, Brennan Hoban, and Vanessa Sauter contributed to this post.