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Trump on Trial: A Guide to the January 6 Hearings and the Question of Criminality

June 6, 2022

President Joe Biden legitimately won a fair and secure 2020 presidential election--and Donald Trump lost. This historical fact has been uncontroverted by any evidence since at least November 7, 2020, when major news outlets projected Biden's victory. But Trump never conceded. Instead, both before and after Election Day, he tried to delegitimize the election results by disseminating a series of far-fetched and evidence-free claims of fraud. Meanwhile, with a ring of close confidants, Trump conceived and implemented unprecedented schemes to--in his own words--"overturn" the election outcome. Among the results of this "Big Lie" campaign were the terrible events of January 6, 2021--an inflection point in what we now understand was nothing less than an attempted coup.With Congress undertaking landmark hearings on all of that, this report is a comprehensive guide to the proceedings. It covers the Committee's work to date, the key players in the attempt to overturn the election, the known facts regarding their conduct that are expected to be covered at the hearings, and the criminal law applicable to their actions. The report is intended to help readers evaluate all those proceedings going forward.

Can child care and pre-K help reduce inflation?

June 2, 2022

Inflation has recently emerged as the top economic concern in the U.S. The Federal Reserve is now raising interest rates in an attempt to curb inflation, but their job would be easier, and the risk of a recession reduced, if we could directly address some of the job market bottlenecks that are contributing to inflation. This phenomenon has been called "the Great Resignation" – where there are too few workers to fill currently available jobs – because some have left the labor market, while others are reluctant to accept or keep jobs there. The aging of the U.S. population and a recent decline in immigration compound these effects.In his Wall Street Journal op-ed on May 31, President Biden listed a number of ways to reduce inflation – and one of them was cutting the cost of child care to families, so that the parents of small children could more easily enter the workforce. Indeed, his Build Back Better (BBB) agenda included policies such as greater access to child care and universal pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds, policies with the potential to boost labor supply and potentially reduce inflation. That legislation remains in limbo because of the opposition of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). But if it had been enacted a year ago, it could have made a difference – not just to the well-being of families and children but even to the inflationary pressures that have now emerged, pressures fueled in part by a lack of workers to produce the products and services people want.

Winning the Web: How Beijing Exploits Search Results to Shape Views of Xinjiang and COVID-19

May 27, 2022

As the war in Ukraine unfolds, Russian propaganda about the conflict has gotten a boost from a friendly source: government officials and state media out of Beijing. In multiple languages and regions around the world, China's "wolf warrior" diplomats and state media routinely amplify Kremlin conspiracy theories rationalizing President Vladimir Putin's invasion, and undermining the credibility and appeal of the United States, NATO, and independent media — even as China declines to endorse the Kremlin's adventurism wholesale. This spring, for example, China's messengers promoted the baseless Russian claim that the United States has been supporting a biological weapons program in Ukraine -- at times, more aggressively than Russia itself.Because Russian state media have been deamplified or banned by multiple Western social media platforms, Beijing's messaging could play an outsized role in channeling Kremlin talking points to audiences around the world. These narratives do not just spread on social media. Beijing's state-funded publishers have considerable success in a domain that has received comparatively little attention: search results.For months, our team has been tracking how China has exploited search engine results on Xinjiang and COVID-19, two subjects that are geopolitically salient to Beijing — Xinjiang, because the Chinese government seeks to push back on condemnation of its rights record; COVID-19, because it seeks to deflect criticism for its early mishandling of the pandemic. In both cases, Beijing is quite focused on positioning itself as a responsible global leader and softening perceptions to the contrary. To evaluate these concerns, we compiled daily data over a 120-day period on 12 terms related to Xinjiang and COVID-19 from five different sources: (1) Google Search; (2) Google News; (3) Bing Search; (4) Bing News; and (5) YouTube.

Interim security insights and implications from the first two months of the Russia-Ukraine war

May 12, 2022

Russia's ongoing struggles during its invasion of Ukraine have led some to suggest that the Russian military lacks the capability to credibly threaten the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its member states. However, narrowly focusing on Russia's tactical and operational struggles, while omitting the flawed Russian strategic decisionmaking which underpinned the invasion, is a dangerous approach. While Russia's significant losses in this war will clearly degrade its ability to conduct large scale offensive operations against NATO in the short term, it is too soon to write off the medium to long-term threat posed by Russia. Therefore, as the Russian invasion enters a new phase, it is useful to determine what lessons should and should not be derived from this conflict. In our subsequent analysis, we analyze these initial insights and provide policy recommendations for NATO to enhance its conventional capability and strengthen its ability to credibly deter future Russian aggression.

The State of the Sustainable Development Goals in the United States

March 17, 2022

President Biden entered office in January 2021 with the promise to end the COVID-19 pandemic and facilitate an economic transformation to "build a better America." But what, exactly, does "better" mean? Answering that question in specific ways means establishing explicit benchmarks for progress, analyzing current trends, and identifying their impact and on whom.The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can help with the answer. These 17 comprehensive, interconnected goals offer a set of metrics and evidence to better understand where the U.S. is on a set of critical economic, social, and environmental dimensions, and how far it needs to go in its quest to build a better America.

The Brookings Sanctions Tracker

March 14, 2022

The world's democracies are employing financial and economic countermeasures in the fight against Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. The extent of these sanctions is staggering. To analyze the scope and potential impact of these sanctions, it is essential to systematically monitor and track them—which is why we are launching the Brookings Sanctions Tracker.  Our goal is for this tracker to serve as a timely and user-friendly tool for civil society organizations, policymakers, and others who seek to analyze the current landscape of specific restrictive measures imposed against Russia (both on an individual nation basis and across the international community), generate analysis on trends and gaps, and inform recommendations on how to combat corruption, advance accountability, and defend democracy.  

Feasible US steps to strengthen NATO deterrence in the Baltics and Poland

March 10, 2022

With Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a renewed assessment of efforts by the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to deter Russia from taking military action on NATO's eastern flank has become particularly salient. In the coming weeks, NATO leadership will meet to discuss what longer term force posture adjustments are required to create such a deterrent. This paper proposes several modest policy recommendations which will help inform the discussion and ultimately strengthen NATO's conventional deterrence posture

Rebalancing Children First: A Report of the AEI-Brookings Working Group on Childhood in the United States

February 8, 2022

The future of America rests in part on how the country prepares the next generation to live and to lead. Childhood is a consequential and cost-effective time to make investments that last a lifetime. Yet, many children in the United States do not have the resources or relationships they need to build a strong foundation for their future.Since 2019, scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution have convened a working group of leading experts to study the challenges and opportunities facing children in America. The members of this working group represent a wide range of academic disciplines, views on the proper roles and effectiveness of government programs, understanding of the current condition of American life, and opinions on how public policy should properly weight competing goods, such as personal responsibility and economic security.Yet, one area of resounding agreement among this diverse group is the need to rebalance national investments toward children. What follows is a consensus report on our conclusions, laying out actionable policies across a range of policy areas to improve the life of every child in the United States.The working group was guided by expertise, evidence, and values, and arrived at consensus through constructive dialogue. While there is broad agreement across academic disciplines and the political spectrum on the need to invest in children, there are substantial tensions resting just beneath the surface. The research base for some policies is mixed and reasonable people disagree about how to interpret and act on the evidence. These disagreements, as well as philosophical differences in how to set priorities, generate division. Through work in consensus-building and compromise, and based on both evidence and shared values, the working group has helped to clarify areas that can garner widespread support.The working group focused its attention on children ages 12 and younger. Across critical domains—household resources, family structure and stability, early development, health, education, and the teenage years—the report presents key facts about the state of childhood in the United States, assembles evidence on policy effectiveness, and establishes a set of priorities for progress.

Is democracy failing and putting our economic system at risk?

January 4, 2022

The rule of law and democracy are crucial to capital markets. A free market balanced by a democratically elected, transparent and capable government, and a strong civil society ("an inclusive regime") yield stable growth rates and greater social welfare. Conversely, threats to democracy are threats to the private sector, which is why business leaders and institutional investors cannot afford to remain on the sidelines when such threats emerge.This paper explores the state of American democracy and whether it constitutes a systemic risk that impacts fiduciary duties. The paper proceeds in three parts. In the first, we assess the question of whether American democracy is backsliding towards failure, and argue that it is. In the second, we will examine whether democratic failure represents a systemic risk, and conclude that it does. In the third part, we offer some preliminary thoughts about what steps major private sector actors may undertake as part of their fiduciary responsibilities given the threats to U.S. democracy and markets.

City playbook for advancing the SDGs: A collection of how-to briefs on advancing the Sustainable Development Goals locally

December 9, 2021

This "City Playbook for Advancing the SDGs" compiles a series of how-to briefs and case studies on advancing sustainable development and social progress locally. These short, digestible, and practical briefs are written by city government officials for other city officials, based on their direct experience.This playbook responds to significant appetite expressed by city leaders for capturing and sharing the "how" of innovations and practices to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) locally. These briefs come from cities participating in the Brookings SDG Leadership Cities community of practice and others to elevate innovations or processes with concrete positive outcomes for equity and sustainability. These best practices and tools help disseminate recommendations to a wider range of communities and stakeholders eager to play a pivotal role in achieving the 2030 Agenda.Co-edited by Anthony F. Pipa and Max Bouchet, these briefs are published in collaboration with the global learning platform for government innovators apolitical.co. We intend to add content to this collection on a rolling basis throughout 2021 and 2022.

Democracy Playbook 2021: 10 Commitments for Advancing Democracy

December 6, 2021

This special edition of our Democracy Playbook updates our 2019 compendium of evidence-based democracy best practices with the research and developments of the eventful past two years. Most importantly, we here extract from that rich body of knowledge ten proposed pro-democracy commitments for consideration by participants in the upcoming first Summit for Democracy on December 9–10, 2021, and the subsequent year of action. We break down each of the ten commitments into a series of specific and measurable steps that all stakeholders can undertake to renew and strengthen democracy, fight democratic backsliding, and usher in an era of improved governance. After the Summit, we will update the Playbook again with the best of the learnings from that gathering for use as we build towards the 2022 follow-up event a year from now.

What can economic research tell us about the effect of abortion access on women’s lives?

November 30, 2021

Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization considers the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law that prohibits women from accessing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This case is widely expected to determine the fate of Roe v. Wade as Mississippi is directly challenging the precedent set by the Supreme Court's decisions in Roe, which protects abortion access before fetal viability (typically between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy). On December 1, 2021, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson. In asking the Court to overturn Roe, the state of Mississippi offers reassurances that "there is simply no causal link between the availability of abortion and the capacity of women to act in society" and hence no reason to believe that abortion access has shaped "the ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation" as the Court had previously held.While the debate over abortion often centers on largely intractable subjective questions of ethics and morality, in this instance the Court is being asked to consider an objective question about the causal effects of abortion access on the lives of women and their families. The field of economics affords insights into these objective questions through the application of sophisticated methodological approaches that can be used to isolate and measure the causal effects of abortion access on reproductive, social, and economic outcomes for women and their families.