Governors and the Development of the Pragmatic Caucus

Bruce Katz
Bruce Katz Founding Director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab - Drexel University

October 30, 2010

In the following interview, Bruce Katz explains how the emergence of a “pragmatic caucus,” comprised of governors across the country, can make the United States a competitive player in the global economy.

PEDRO ECHEVARRIA, C-SPAN: Joining us now is Bruce Katz, he’s with the Brookings Institution, serves as the director of the Metropolitan Policy Program. Mr. Katz, the front page of the Financial Times this morning talks about the U.S. recovery, calling it sluggish and the growth of 2%, they say too little to dent unemployment. You write a lot about those running for governor. Does one story on the front page of the Times relate to those governors who are running for office currently?

BRUCE KATZ: Absolutely. This has been a brutal recession. It’s been a jobless recovery. We lost about 8.4 million jobs during the recession, only regained about 10 percent. There are 37 governors’ races this year and job creation is job number one. And they’re talking not  just about how to create jobs in the near term, they’re also talking about how to retool their economies for the long haul, because they understand the economy that got us into the recession is not the economy we want to return to. So increasingly what they’re talking about is, “let’s move toward [a] more export-oriented economy, let’s talk about taking the energy transformation and capitalizing on it, let’s compete again globally.” China, Brazil, India, the rising nations. So governors who are more pragmatic, who are very practical, are focusing on jobs.

ECHEVARRIA: You call these type of governors…you came up [with] a term, I guess, “the Pragmatic Caucus.” What do you mean by that?

KATZ: Well, I think governors, mayors and their networks of business, civic, university allies tend to focus on their places. They wake up every day and they think about solving problems. They are ideological to an extent, but what’s really interesting compared to Washington, D.C., [are] the common themes you see across Democrats and Republicans, particularly this year. They’re just focusing on what works. What’s going to get this economy moving again, and particularly, what’s going to get the economies in their states moving again, because there is no uniform, national economy in the United States. These states are quite different because their major metropolitan engines that drive their economies are quite different. Pittsburgh versus Phoenix, Detroit versus Denver. So what you see coming from the governors is a practical orientation about working with business about creating jobs, but also basing it off of what their states are good at.

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