Thursday, November 8
12:00pm to 1:30pm
Paul Tough is the author of the new book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. His first book, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America, was published in 2008.
Paul has written extensively about education, child development, poverty, and politics, including cover stories in the New York Times Magazine on character education, the achievement gap, and the Obama administration’s poverty policies. He has worked as an editor at the New York Times Magazine and Harper’s Magazine and as a reporter and producer for the public-radio program “This American Life.” He was the founding editor of Open Letters, an online magazine. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Slate, GQ, Esquire, and Geist, and on the op-ed page of the New York Times.
- Sponsoring Organizations: College of Social Sciences & Humanities, Human Services, Northeastern Bookstore, Snell Library, School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs
Harvard economists offer rival visions
By Megan Woolhouse | The Boston Globe | September 14, 2012
In a Northeastern University classroom, the architect of President Obama’s stimulus plan and a key economic adviser to presidential candidate Mitt Romney laid out competing visions on how to repair the nation’s economy — the issue that has come to define the election campaign.
Lawrence Summers, a former Harvard University president, Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, and top economic adviser to Obama, told the audience government must help fuel a recovery, advocating for additional stimulus to repair schools, hire teachers, and rebuild airports.
On the other end sat N. Gregory Mankiw, who in addition to counseling Romney served as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. He said the key to a long-term recovery is tax reform, including a review of the necessity of popular tax breaks, such as the deduction for mortgage interest.
The Wednesday night forum, called Open Classroom, was part of a series of lectures on election-year issues. Open to the public, this week’s class offered a glimpse into the economic thinking that has helped shape the candidates’ very different policies.
The joint appearance of Summers and Mankiw, both Harvard professors, came less than week after a disappointing employment report showed slow job growth in August and a US unemployment rate holding above 8 percent.
The Federal Reserve, citing its concern over continued high unemployment, on Thursday said it would inject more stimulus into the economy by pushing down long-term interest rates and holding its key short-term interest rate near zero through mid-2015.
Summers and Mankiw did not address the central bank and its policies but focused on measures available to the White House and Congress. They aired competing views about stimulus spending, taxes, and the deficit.
Summers cited the need for a combination of targeted tax cuts and government spending to fuel a recovery when the private sector is “unwilling or unable” to do it.
“How many of you have been to Kennedy Airport? How many of you are proud of Kennedy Airport?” Summers asked. “Government [could be] borrowing money in a currency we print at a time when interest rates are below 3 percent and unemployment in the construction sector is high. Could there be a better time to fix Kennedy Airport?”
Summers said offering a tax break for middle-class Americans would be better for the economy than a tax break that benefits the wealthiest, because middle-class families tend to spend extra money quickly, putting it back into the economy, while those earning $250,000 or more a year tend to save it.
And he speculated Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who attended Harvard, would probably accept a tax increase.
“I suspect Greg Mankiw will disagree with me on that point,” he added.
Mankiw, who described Summers as a mentor while he was a graduate student at MIT, said the question of whether the richest should pay more is a “political question and a question of values” about the role of government. Like other conservative economists, he said he was more concerned about the long-term outlook and unchecked government borrowing that could lead to crippling debt. “Borrowing without repaying, that’s when we become like Greece,” he said.
Greece, with unemployment above 20 percent, is struggling under crushing debt and has teetered on the brink of default, threatening the stability of the euro currency.
Mankiw offered no new insights into Romney’s proposal to lower tax rates while eliminating various breaks or “loopholes.” Romney has been criticized for being short on specifics about which breaks would be scrapped and how the plan would avoid adding to the nation’s debt or increasing taxes for the middle class.
Mankiw, who teaches one of the most popular courses at Harvard, questioned whether the sick economy needs another dose of big-government stimulus when the medicine failed to significantly lower the unemployment rate.
“There’s no easy answer” to that question, Mankiw said. “But I think if a Republican was in charge [at the White House], we would have seen more attention to tax policy.”
Mankiw, describing his views as his own and not those of the Romney campaign, said he thinks popular tax deductions should be reevaluated and eliminated or streamlined. Describing the mortgage interest deduction, for example, he questioned why renters, who are typically poorer than homeowners, should subsidize homeowners.
“I like it personally,” he said of the mortgage interest deduction, “but it fails the test of efficiency.”
Artur Mas, the 129th president of the government of Catalonia, Spain, said on Wednesday morning at Northeastern University that his community of roughly 7 million people strives to emulate Massachusetts’ economic success.
“We can learn from each other,” Mas said. “Of course we would love to have your [gross domestic product] and are envious of your universities and research centers.”
Mas addressed more than two dozen members of the Northeastern community and a contingent of reporters who gathered in the Raytheon Amphitheater for a transportation seminar with Catalonian experts from government and the private sector. Later in the afternoon at the BIO International Convention in Boston, Mas signed an agreement with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to expand Catalonia’s innovation partnership with the state.
The World Class Cities Partnership, an initiative of Northeastern’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, hosted the event. The goal of the WCCP is to bring together civic, business and academic leaders from cities throughout the globe for the purpose of creating sustainable social change through policy research, and the development and implementation of best-practice solutions to common challenges.
The all-day program featured panel discussions on the expansion of Barcelona’s public transit system and the organization and financing of public transportation infrastructure.
Catalonia, an autonomous community in northeast Spain, has become a world leader in sustainable and economically efficient transportation infrastructure, due in large part to its high-speed railway service to Paris.
Mas said Catalonia has developed one of the most-used metro systems in world, eclipsing more than 1 billion passenger rides in 2011. Children under 12 ride for free and low-income residents receive an 80 percent discount. Handicapped metro users have easy access to elevators and escalators.
“Our transportation system is truly for everyone,” Mas explained.
Catalonia, he said, must often do more with less. The Spanish community lacks natural resources and land, but makes up for its shortcomings with intellectual capital.
As Mas put it, “We have created a wealth of knowledge and technology.”
Northeastern’s Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Michael Dukakis, who has long advocated for a national network of high-speed rail lines, expressed disappointment with our country’s mass-transit system.
“We are not exceptional when it comes to transportation infrastructure,” he said in his welcoming remarks, noting the dichotomy between the transportation systems in the United States and South Korea, which he called “one of the finest” in the world.
Alan Solomont, the United States ambassador to Spain and Andorra, praised Catalonia’s high-speed rail in his introduction of Mas, saying, “It’s never been late, it’s smooth and it’s quick.”
He highlighted the close relationship between the U.S. and Spain, pointing to his political strategy of “putting economic policy at the forefront of foreign policy.”
“We have helped American companies in Spain compete on a level playing field,” Solomont explained. “Spain has more assets and the economy has more strengths” than the country gets credit for, he added.
The World Class Cities Partnership and School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs cordially invite you to join us
Remarks by the honorable President Artur Mas of Catalonia
June 20, 2012
8:30 am — 12:30 pm
RSVP BY JUNE 15th
President Artur Mas, elected President in 2010, presides over the regional government of Catalonia in Northeast Spain. Prior to his election as President, he served as the Minister for Public Works and later as the Minister for Economy and Finance.
Welcome by Michael Dukakis
Moderated by Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey
- Exploring lessons learned from the expansion of Barcelona’s TMB transit system and the impact it has had on land use in the city
- Discussing the opportunities for public-private partnerships as an investment model for public transportation developments.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Sargent Hall, Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont Street, Boston
Economic growth in greater Boston depends heavily on the region’s transit system but the age of the MBTA’s system, combined with its growing ridership, is straining the capacity of the system to meet both current and future demand creating bottlenecks that could hinder regional economic growth. The Infrastructure Council of ULI Boston and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council will release two complementary reports:
- Urban Land Institute (ULI) Boston’s “Hub and Spoke:The Future of Transit and Development in Greater Boston” focuses on the need to invest in public transit infrastructure so that the MBTA can serve its growing transit ridership including future trips generated by the pipeline of planned developments in greater Boston. This report is underwritten by the ULI Urban Innovation Fund, with additional support from A Better City, The Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, MAPC, MASCO, and Our Transportation Future.
- Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s “Sizing up the Development Potential of MBTA Station Areas: A Regional Assessment.” The MAPC study documents the significant potential for growth near MBTA subway and commuter rail stations throughout Greater Boston and identifies the types of stations that present the best opportunities for substantial new residential and commercial development. This report was supported by the Metro Boston Sustainable Communities Consortium and the Boston MPO with additional support from the Dukakis Center at Northeastern University.
The reports will be preceded by remarks from Transportation Secretary Davey, and followed by a response panel of real estate leaders.
- Opening Remarks by Richard A. Davey, Secretary of Transportation
- ULI Boston Hub & Spoke Report Release – Stephanie Pollack, Northeastern University, Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy, Co-Chair of the ULI Boston Infrastructure Council
- Sizing up the Development Potential of MBTA Station Areas: A Regional Assessment – Tim Reardon, MAPC
- Response Panel with Jim Keefe, Trinity Financial and Anthony Pangaro, Millennium Partners. Moderated by Barbara Boylan, Skanska
- Private Sector: $30
- Public/Non Profit Sector: $20
- Young Leader: $30
- Full Time Student: $20
- Private Sector $40
- Public/Non Profit Sector $20
- Young Leader $40
- Full Time Student: $20
Online Registration Deadline: 6/12/2012
Registration Fees increase by $10 after 6/12/2012