Even in the wake of the financial debacle of 2008-2010, the United States still has the largest, richest, and most innovative economy in the world. Despite much of the bleak current conventional wisdom, over the next twenty-five years, the U.S. can continue to grow, prosper, create jobs and innovate. The economy of 2035—The Next American Economy—can meet the needs of our children, our environment, and our society and can enable the U.S. to remain the world’s essential nation. The question is not “can we?” but “will we?”
We face major challenges, vast changes in the ways our economy and society function, and a once-in-a-century restructuring of global power. Finding our way out of this strategic dilemma requires thinking today about the shape and structure of the Next American Economy and about how decisions taken today will affect our economy in 2035. To see our way forward, we need to build a conceptual bridge between today’s economy and the economy of 2035.
The Roosevelt Institute’s Next American Economy Program is positioned to lead that kind of thinking. Today, politicians, policymakers, and policy scholars—particularly in Washington D.C.—are driven by short-term policy exigencies, not paradigm-shifting ideas. The Roosevelt Institute has carved out a niche, primarily in the financial reform debate, by stimulating public dialogue rooted in a focus on core ideas rather than immediate policy. The proposed Next American Economy program will build on that focus by considering in depth the trends that will shape the next American economy of 2035. The timing could not be better or the need more urgent for an initiative that connects researchers to practitioners, historians to futurists, young professionals to senior experts.
Social scientists, economists, political scientists, and geo-political experts, among others, have tackled the disparate trends that will shape the economy of 2035—its demography, the nature of jobs and employment, the role and position of China, the impact of continued technological change. Yet to date, there has been inadequate integration of their research and thinking. There has been no effort to develop a more holistic sense of alternative future scenarios; no broad conversation among Americans about the future; and certainly no real policy dialogue.
The Next American Economy Project will build that conceptual bridge to the future through a series of initiatives. These will include a breakfast series, a web-based strategy group, and an annual conference. The result—better decisions through better decision-making.