The Year in Review for the Bush Institute’s Economic Growth Initiative

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by The Bush Institute

logoThe economic potential of North America. The fiscal policies needed to spur growth in the United States. The effect of monetary policies upon the economy. The Bush Institute did a deep-dive into each area in 2014. Conferences and salon dinners. Research papers and commentaries. Dialogue across party lines. Each was part of the portfolio that made for a very focused year.

North America’s Promise

The economies of North America became a prime theme for the Bush Institute in 2014. Energy. Trade. Immigration. Human Capital. Natural resources. They are critical to growing the United States, Mexico and Canada. And they each are especially central to life in heartland states like Texas, which, of course, is where the Bush Institute is located.

In the spring, the Institute hosted a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation conference that looked at the promise of North America. Rich Cooper of the Chamber Foundation described that potential this way on the Bush Institute blog:

“The United States, Canada, and Mexico are the proud and joint owners of probably the best piece of real estate on the planet, not only from a natural resource standpoint but in terms of possessing the developed infrastructure and talent pool to capitalize on our advantages.”

As fall rolled around, the Bush Institute hosted two salons aimed at airing out the policies that can make those economies grow. The discussions included President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, as well as leaders like former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo. The Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith moderated one of the gatherings, where participants focused on North America’s strengths and challenges 20 years after the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Bush Institute’s Dan Fisk and Machir Stull kept addressing North America’s promise and challenges in blog entries. They dealt with issues like the geopolitical impact of North America’s energy revolution and the impact that crude oil price declines could have on this region’s economies.

Bush Institute fellow Matthew Denhart explained the importance of labor flows in keeping North America competitive with places like China and the European Union. Modernizing immigration laws, Denhart wrote, would help unleash the human capital that can make North America even more competitive.

Bush Institute editorial director Bill McKenzie wrote about the natural resource challenges that face the two big economic drivers of North America: Texas and California. In this piece, he touched upon the way some are trying to solve water issues across the Southwest and Mexico.

Throughout the year, the Bush Institute kept talking with people from many different backgrounds. In one interview, Texas Democratic State Rep. Rafael Anchia addressed energy, trade and transportation issues that affect the U.S. Mexico border. Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk also explained Dallas’ significance in North America.

Yes, Fiscal and Monetary Policies Matter

The Bush Institute hosted a mega-monetary policy conference in May. President Bush, former Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke and Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher were among those sharing their views.

A common theme was that smart monetary policies are needed to expand the economy, but we can’t stop there. Growing the economy requires overhauling entitlement programs and the tax code.

2012 GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan discussed tax and entitlement reforms as well in a widely-read Bush Institute interview. The Wisconsin congressman appeared at a Bush Center event to talk about his book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea.

Taxes, monetary policies and entitlements also were the subject of a number of blogs by Bush Institute fellows. Christopher Hanna wrote about their relationship in this piece,  while Keith Hennessey, former director of the National Economic Council under President Bush, described how the economy is like a garden, not a pie in a creative essay.

As this year ends and 2015 begins, look for more from the Bush Institute on strategies to grow the economy, especially the economies of the three nations of North America.

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