Copyright 2023

Big Ideas

Brookings’s Big Ideas are bold, creative policy proposals for the new administration and 117th Congress.

Visit our Transition 2021 page for more research and analysis on the presidential transition period.

Production of Brookings’s Big Ideas for 2020 was possible thanks to editorial guidance from Darrell West, Vice President and Director of Governance Studies, and Jessica Harris, Director of Communications for Governance Studies.

shutterstock_661289371 A new path to education reform: Playful learning promotes 21st-century skills in schools and beyond

It is time for scalable, evidence-based education reform that puts student engagement, educator expertise, and equity at the center.

shutterstock_656532487 The need for civic education in 21st-century schools

Rebecca Winthrop argues why, in an age of growing polarization and rising civic deserts, civic learning must be considered an essential component of a 21st-century education.

shutterstock_1037739901 Data-driven approaches to subsidizing college enrollment costs

Matt Kasman presents four recommendations for evaluating and comparing the possible benefits of different college subsidy programs.

Photo 2 PDF Header Why we need reparations for Black Americans

Rashawn Ray and Andre Perry outline the history of reparations in the United States, missed opportunities to redress the racial wealth gap, and specific details for a viable reparations package for Black Americans.

shutterstock_301329143 It is time for a Cannabis Opportunity Agenda

Makada Henry-Nickie and John Hudak propose a Cannabis Opportunity Agenda that supports inclusive economic opportunities and addresses longstanding harms of the War on Drugs

Oil rigs and solar panels The United States can take climate change seriously while leading the world in oil and gas production

Samantha Gross argues that polices that focus on reducing emissions and that provide support to communities most affected by a transition away from fossil fuels are politically viable for addressing climate change.

An Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria September 9, 2019.   REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger - RC13159EFD90 Averting a new Iranian nuclear crisis

Robert Einhorn explains that Iran is unlikely to be in a hurry to expand its nuclear capacity, but suggests temporary steps that the United States and other interested countries to the 2015 nuclear deal could take to freeze or even roll back the rebuilding of Iran’s nuclear program.”

Child looking at globe Building public support for foreign assistance

George Ingram recommends focusing the narrative around foreign assistance to create a new vision of American leadership that addresses three major challenges: climate change, advancing development, and educating the world’s children.

Networks over Planet Earth Placing a visible hand on the digital revolution

Tom Wheeler argues it is time for the public interest to reassert itself over the digital economy with a "visible hand" in guiding and regulating our digital future.

A housing construction project is seen in San Francisco, California June 2, 2015. The median rent for an apartment in the city is now $4,225 per month, according to local media. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith - GF10000115364 To improve housing affordability, we need better alignment of zoning, taxes, and subsidies

Jenny Schuetz proposes better alignment of three policy tools to address housing affordability: Zoning reform, land value taxes, and subsidies.

Graduating seniors react during Commencement ceremonies at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S., May 21, 2017.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RC1F1F41DBB0 Using teacher loan forgiveness to attract a stronger, more diverse workforce

Michael Hansen and Li Feng propose a federal loan forgiveness program for teachers and other educators to help address the challenges of student loan debt and declining interest in teaching among young people.

Soldiers attached to the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, Iowa National Guard and 10th Mountain, 2-14 Infantry Battalion, load onto a Chinook helicopter to head out on a mission in Afghanistan, January 15, 2019.     1st Lt. Verniccia Ford/U.S. Army/Handout via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. - RC110D3B25B0 5,000 Troops for 5 years: A no drama approach to Afghanistan for the next US president

Michael O’Hanlon argues that stabilizing its military mission in Afghanistan at 5,000 troops for 5 years would allow the U.S. to achieve its core counterterrorism goals and help foster peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

A general view of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington February 28, 2013. Positions hardened on Wednesday between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders over the budget crisis even as they arranged to hold last-ditch talks to prevent harsh automatic spending cuts beginning this week. Looking resigned to the $85 billion in "sequestration" cuts starting on Friday, government agencies began reducing costs and spelling out to employees how furloughs will work.   REUTERS/Jason Reed   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) - GM1E92S1U0N01 Improving congressional capacity to address problems and oversee the executive branch

Molly Reynolds explains why Congress’s oversight authority relative to the executive has diminished and offers reforms that would improve its capacity to address problems, enact legislation, and bolster legislative influence.

U.S. Marines Corps haul their gear out of a MV-22B Osprey that evacuated them to the USS Kearsarge aircraft carrier as U.S. military continues to leave the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria, in the Caribbean Sea near the islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken on September 17, 2017.    REUTERS/Jonathan Drake - RC1B0BC5AEB0 Focusing on quality over quantity in the US military budget

Michael O’Hanlon and James Miller argue that, instead of focusing on the size of the U.S. defense budget, more focus should be given to the quality of the armed forces.

Microphones stand at the podium after U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta addressed supporters at the election night rally in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif  - HT1ECB90KK9V0 The urgent need for peer review in the presidential nominating process

Elaine Kamarck recommends re-introducing an element of peer review to the presidential nominating process by empowering party leaders and elected officials to properly vet candidates for their policy knowledge, record of public service, and temperament before primary voters start casting ballots.

An elderly couple looks out at the ocean as they sit on a park bench in La Jolla, California November 13, 2013.   REUTERS/Mike Blake  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT) - GM1E9BE0E8L01 How can policymakers improve retirement security?

Martin Neil Baily argues that the old retirement model in the United States is no longer functioning and offers four policy ideas to help middle-class Americans secure their retirement.

Seniors sign-up to vote during National Voter Registration day at a high school in Escondido, California September 22, 2015.  REUTERS/Mike Blake - GF10000216439 How to boost voter registration at tax time

Vanessa Williamson explains why making voter registration available during income tax filing would raise voter registration levels and turnout.

North Carolina Electoral College representatives sign the Certificates of Vote after they all cast their ballots for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in the State Capitol building in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S., December 19, 2016.     REUTERS/Jonathan Drake - RC12F8CC65F0 It’s time to abolish the Electoral College

Darrell West discusses the history of the Electoral College and argues why the time has come to abolish it.