“Despite occupying just 12 percent of U.S. land mass, the nation’s 100 largest metro areas account for 65 percent of its people and 75 percent of its economic output. They hold the keys to America’s future prosperity…”
As a nation where economic success or failure hinges firmly on the backs of our largest metropolitan areas, Bruce Katz, Robert Puentes, and others in Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program are doing yeoman’s work in shining the spotlight on the connections between the housing and infrastructure crises, economic woes, energy dependence, and climate concerns and well-being of our metro areas — while also articulating clear, ready-to-go solutions for anyone who would start advocating for them.
Considering this, it makes the day-to-day silence on the issue in stump speeches and interviews all the more puzzling. You would think that the presidential candidates and political parties would be falling all over themselves to cast a 21st century vision for metropolitan prosperity. During a week when the eyes of the nation — especially on the Democratic side — were on Texas and Ohio, Brookings had op-eds in the Dallas Morning News and the Cleveland Plain Dealer calling for a true metropolitan agenda. They also articulated the bigger vision in the Guardian Unlimited:
Despite the pivotal and historic openness of the race, candidates of both parties have largely stuck to a script that is nearly 20 years old. The candidates’ economic proposals are largely traditional (make the Bush tax cut permanent) or defensive (stop jobs from going overseas). All remain silent on a positive vision that leverages the economic strengths of America’s metropolitan areas and also how to address their challenges — overstretched transport systems, a lack of affordable housing and a changing workforce that remains unprepared for the 21st century global economy. This silence is all the more stunning as US urban areas, or ‘metros’, are the backbone of its economy.