More of the same from Brookings

A new report from the Brookings Institution Restoring Prosperity: The State Role in Revitalizing America’s Older Industrial Cities repeats many of the same recommendations from multiple earlier reports (including their PA-specific Back to Prosperity Report): more state spending, more taxes, and more powers to local governments (and fewer, larger, local/regional governments).

Once again they miss the mark. First, they define “older industrial cities” as those that rank low in both “City Economic Condition” and “Residential Economic Well-Being” – having nothing to do with age or industrial history of the city – so obviously all “older industrial” cities are struggling, by definition. Thus Los Angeles, Miami, and Odessa, TX are older industrial cities, but Chicago, New York, and Atlanta are not.

Following that, their recommendations don’t solve the problems they identify:

  • The report does not emphasize lowering the state and local tax burden, though the struggling cities are disproportionately located in states with areas with high taxes.
  • The report emphasizes state aid for economic development, even though the distressed cities are predominantly in states that spend the most on eco devo.
  • The report emphasizes the importance of education, but refuses to identify school choice as a policy – even though choice would make troubled cities more attractive for families, and would remove the link between the quality of education and one’s zip code.