One year before the presidential election, the non-partisan Brookings Institution today launched “Priorities 2000” — a series of forums, books, policy briefs, and website features, aimed at encouraging the presidential candidates to address eight important issues facing the nation as it enters the 21st century.
“These are the issues we hope the candidates will debate, the media will cover, and the voters will discuss,” declared Michael H. Armacost, president of Brookings, an independent think tank conducting public policy research and analysis. “Our objective is to encourage a thoughtful, enlightened, policy-focused election campaign,” Armacost said, “with a sharp focus on the issues rather than the all-too-familiar negative campaigns, marked by personal attacks on opponents, and misleading, simplistic soundbites.”
Brookings will use its scholars and its convening power to assemble experts with a variety of viewpoints to examine the issues in eight National Issues Forums, beginning in January and continuing until shortly before Election Day.
Brookings launched “Priorities 2000” with the publication of the book Setting National Priorities, in which 15 experts present informative articles on the issues challenging America as it moves into an era of what may be sustained budget surpluses.
“Many of the issues that dominated past policy debates — such as the deficit, the cold war, and welfare — have receded or disappeared,” write the book’s editors, Brookings scholars Henry J. Aaron and Robert D. Reischauer. “This new environment should promote both a reexamination of current national priorities and debate on an agenda for the nation’s future.”
The issues that are the focus of the P2K project are:
- Race: The Great American Divide. With the civil rights battles of the ’50s and ’60s won — legal segregation is dead — America is faced with the more complex and difficult challenge of achieving genuine equality of opportunity for minorities — African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and others — in education, the economy and other aspects of our community life together. Is a colorblind society still a reasonable objective? National Issues Forum: January 11, 2000
- Renewing Democracy, Reinventing Government. The candidates currently confront voters turned off by the politics of extreme partisanship and personal attack. Voter turnout is low. Many Americans believe candidates are out of touch with their concerns. Meanwhile, the endless hunt for campaign contributions is out of control. The presidential campaign provides and an opportunity to address these systemic problems, as well as such big issues as the proper size and role of the federal government vs. state and local governments, redesigning the governmental structure for the future, attracting good people to public service, and making the government more accountable. National Issues Forum: April 13, 2000
- Helping the Americans Left Behind. With millions of Americans off the welfare rolls and into paying jobs since the last election, the next president will face the still-challenging issue of how low-paid workers can be helped to escape poverty. To do this, he will have to consider policies for child care and health care for the working poor, pre-school and after-school programs, skills training, and adjustments in the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit. And the new president will have to lead a dialogue on how to divide these responsibilities between the federal government, state and local governments, and private charitable and religious organizations. National Issues Forum: May 17, 2000
- Living Longer: The Challenges of an Aging Population. The new president will face an unprecedented development — the large and rising number of Americans over 65. He will have to formulate policies to deal with the implications for Social Security and Medicare, as well as the consequences of postponing retirement, and of millions of children caring for elderly parents. Longer life spans and innovations in medicine will also raise quality of life issues for the elderly that will generate pressures on the incoming administration. National Issues Forum: May 25, 2000
- The Next Urban Agenda. Increasingly, the lines between “suburban” issues and “urban” problems have been blurred, and the rapid decentralization of the U.S. economy is affecting the quality of life in both places. Cities and inner suburbs grapple with bad schools, under-investment and blight, while outer suburbs struggle with high property taxes, congested highways, and overcrowded classrooms. The next president will be called upon to articulate the prospects for cooperative and coordinated solutions that will address the interrelated problems that confront both cities and suburbs. National Issues Forum: June 14, 2000
- Reforming American Education: Brown Center Report Card on American Education. In opinion polls, Americans say this is their number one concern. There is no question that many of our schools — particularly those in poor urban areas — are failing to educate children. The candidates all talk about what they would do. There is no shortage of proposals — vouchers for private school enrollment, standards for teachers, testing students for achievement, more classrooms and more teachers, and smaller class size. The debate among candidates will be on the appropriate role of the federal government relative to local authorities that have traditionally exercised large responsibilities. National Issues Forum: September 5, 2000
- Keeping the Good Times Rolling: Technology and the Global Economy. The economy of the U.S. is growing strongly, powered by the introduction of information age technology. The economies of other countries are also benefiting from technology and the spread of free markets. What tax, trade, and regulatory policies should the next president pursue to keep the boom going? What kind of federal government interventions should he shun to avoid stifling the economy? National Issues Forum: October 10, 2000
- American Primacy: We’re #1, Now What? The new president will face the challenge of developing policies to decide when, where, and how to assert American power via diplomacy, military intervention, sanctions, and humanitarian intervention in the unstable post-cold war world. He and Congress together will need to determine the appropriate cost, composition, and role of the U.S. armed forces, the diplomatic establishment, and the intelligence community. And, like his recent predecessors, he will have to attempt to define a new long-term guiding principle for America’s role in the world, to replace the successful containment policy of the cold war era. National Issues Forum: October 18, 2000
The Brookings Institution is an independent, non-partisan think tank founded in 1916 to conduct public policy research, analysis, education, and publication. The institution focuses its activities on economics, foreign policy, and government, with the goal of improving the performance of American institutions and the quality of public policy.
The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and policy solutions. Its mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations for policymakers and the public.