Rahm Emanuel reportedly has a doctrine: Never let a serious crisis go to waste. His point is a good one – vested interests usually block change across a wide range of important issues in the US, and a major financial/economic crisis provides an opportunity to bypass or breakthrough those interests in order to introduce meaningful and substantial change. Emanuel listed (from the 1:40 minute mark) five priority areas for change: health care (cost control and expansion of coverage), energy (independence and alternatives), taxes (fairness and simplicity), education (fundamental changes to effectively train the workforce), and financial regulation (transparency and accountability).
The financial crisis is abating – although the economic costs continue to mount and new problems may still appear (ask California or Ukraine). At least among the people I talk with on Capitol Hill, there is a very real sense that business is returning to usual; certainly, the lobbyists are out in force, they want what they always want, and it’s hard to see many of them as seriously weakened. How much progress have we made on any of Emanuel’s priority areas or, for that matter, along any other public policy dimension that was previously stuck? Continue reading