12/26/2011 - This is a moment when policymakers should be thinking big, not small. History will little note nor long remember that the payroll tax holiday was extended for two months rather than 12. The complex and difficult questions we’re avoiding, however, may haunt us through the century.
Let me be clear that I applaud President Obama and the Democrats for the political victory they won last week. The impact was to weaken the influence of the most reactionary and clueless faction in Congress — the Tea Party Republicans — and strengthen the hand of both progressives and pragmatic conservatives. This can only be a good thing.
Our systems seem to have become sclerotic. The United States still has the finest colleges and universities in the world, but it now ranks no higher than fifth among 36 industrialized countries in the percentage of working-age adults who have at least an associate degree, according to a 2011 report by the College Board. We have the most expensive medical care in the world, yet rank 50th in life expectancy, behind such nations as Jordan and Greece, according to the CIA Factbook. Our society now features less economic mobility than is found in Canada and much of Europe, according to the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Read the full editorial, A Brainpower Revolution, on The Washington Post's Web site.