Created: 12 December 2011
The New Policy Institute
(NPI) is a non-partisan think tank based in Washington D.C. Its mission is to imagine and build a 21st century America capable of meeting the challenges of our time.
The New Policy Institute is an affiliate of the advocacy organization NDN and a project of theTides Center.
NPI’s work with Surdna Foundation focuses on the Next Economy Partnership Project
, a program devoted to advancing an economy based on bottom-up development and low-carbon outcomes. There is one clear idea that currently unites everyday Americans, business leaders and elected officials like no other: America needs a plan to accelerate job creation and raise our game in the more competitive 21st Century energy economy. This plan needs to be national in scale, but skeptical Americans have lost faith in top-down mandates and empty promises from Washington. Instead, they want to see a national plan implemented bottom-up to maximize local strengths and assets across the country.
Beyond that, there is little agreement among the American public or policy elites about how we meet the challenge. It is clear that there are no silver bullets or quick fixes. So figuring out what works, what doesn’t, what’s missing and what unites us must be a collaborative project linking many actors, institutions and geographies. Enter the Next Economy Partnership Project.
The Next Economy Partnership Project was launched to: build a common language for bottom up innovation; lift up success stories in the near term; and accelerate long-term, bi-partisan policy breakthroughs and bottom up outcomes. NPI’s research into voter attitudes on the economy over the last year has revealed a great deal not only about the depth of voter discontent and uncertainty but also identified messaging that allows us to break through the pessimism and lay out a progressive economic vision that resonates with voters.
The research revealed a clear consensus that the fundamental nature of this economy has changed, that America is falling behind countries such as China and India, and that America must raise its game or risk falling even further behind. Voters recognize the new economic realities we face but believe there is simply no other way to create long-term economic growth and rebuild the American middle class than to reduce our dependence on other countries. Above all else, this means a renewed emphasis on ensuring that the products created by American innovation are also manufactured here and an urgent focus on energy independence. The tremendous potential of clean energy, particularly renewable energy and the promise it holds for the future of American manufacturing, was central to these discussions and dominated much of our research into specific policy ideas that promise the job creation and economic growth these voters demand.
But even the most compelling policy ideas run into a wall of cynicism from voters who have heard plenty of rhetoric from both parties but seen no results. Voters are tired of the same old slogans from politicians of both parties and desperate for solutions and strategies that recognize the new economic realities we face. They hold it as an article of faith that jobs will not and cannot be created by Washington. Sustainable job growth of the scale required to shift our economy must come from the state and local level, driven by small businesses and the private sector.
NPI’s work to date has already had measurable impact. Through over a year of briefings and convenings, it has gathered together a growing community of formerly “silo-ed” groups around a new, bottom-up narrative for regional innovation, jobs and low-carbon outcomes. NPI's research has have confirmed that voters see an indispensable role for highly focused efforts on local partnerships, local job creation councils and new, flexible approaches that give clean economy entrepreneurs and citizens a greater voice in how federal money is spent. NDI has successfully engaged key federal and state officials around the high-impact potential of regional innovation, and in the coming year, hopes to further accelerate development and deployment of the missing message and policy mechanisms identified by the research.