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Beyond the Fiscal Cliff: Public Policy Experts Talk Issues for 2013

December 21, 2012

Jennifer Talhelm 301-405-4390

School of Public Policy LogoCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Will Congress and the president avoid the fiscal cliff?  What new or lingering problems will policy makers tackle in 2013?  Experts from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy say plenty of prickly issues are facing the nation’s policy leaders in the new year.  Concerns ranging from tax reform and government downsizing to U.S.-Iran relations and the drawdown from Afghanistan will take center-stage, they say.  Read on for a selection of their predictions.
The UMD School of Public Policy has access to an in-house facility for live or taped interviews via fiber-optic line for television or multimedia content. Contact Jennifer Talhelm at (202) 870-4465 or jtalhelm@umd.edu for more information.
Domestic Issues
MSPP Dean Don KettlDon Kettl: Government Downsizing
“The fiscal cliff negotiations are leading toward tough decisions on taxes and entitlements.  But underneath the surface is a thicket of tough questions on government’s size.  How many departments should we keep?  How many regulations can we cut?  Do we have too many government employees – or, more important, do we have a good plan for matching the skills if government with the job we want it to do?  No matter what happens with the cliff, these will be mega-problems for 2013.”
Kettl, dean of the UMD School of Public Policy, specializes in the management of public organizations.  His dozen books and monographs include: The Next Government of the United States: Why Our Institutions Fail Us and How to Fix Them; On Risk and Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina; The Global Public Management Revolution; and Leadership at the Fed.

Contact: 301-405-6356, kettl@umd.edu
Bio: http://publicpolicy.umd.edu/donald-kettl

Kettl: Plan C: 'All Roads Lead Back to Boehner'
Professor Jacques GanslerJacques Gansler: National Security Funding

“A top issue for 2013 will be successfully addressing the broad spectrum of national security challenges (pirates, terrorism, cyber-attacks, nuclear proliferation, regional instabilities, etc.) with what we know will be fewer available dollars.  This will require a paradigm shift from the current belief that you always ‘have to pay more to get more’ to a new culture, stressing the use of innovation to continuously improve performance while reducing cost.”
Professor Gansler, who served as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics from 1997-2001, is the first holder of the Roger C. Lipitz Chair in Public Policy and Private Enterprise.  He directs the School of Public Policy’s Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, and heads the school’s new acquisition specialization, dedicated to preparing the 21st century government acquisition leaders.

Contact: 301-405-4794, jgansler@umd.edu
Bio: http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/jacques-gansler
Professor Philip JoycePhilip Joyce: Tax Reform
“If there is a fiscal cliff agreement by the end of the year, it will be necessary to translate the path included in that plan into specific detailed legislation.  The need to do this will provide an opportunity to reform our complicated and inefficient tax code.  Virtually every tax economist agrees that a more simplified, straightforward tax system would be dividends in the form of greater economic growth and productivity.  The fact that there is general agreement on tax reform, however, should not lead anyone to conclude that it will be an easy thing to do.  Many thorny dilemmas await, including which tax preferences to eliminate, whether to make the rate structure more or less progressive, and more generally how the burden of financing government should be apportioned.  Any changes will create winners and losers, who will use their voices – and their wallets – to try and influence the debate.”
Professor Joyce is the author of The Congressional Budget Office: Honest Numbers, Power, and Policy Making.  Prior to his academic work, Joyce worked for 12 years in the public sector, including five years with the United States Congressional Budget Office.  

Contact: 301-405-4766, pgjoyce@umd.edu
Bio: http://publicpolicy.umd.edu/philip-joyce
Professor Robert GrimmRobert Grimm: Government Reform and Reductions in Spending on Nonprofits
“While there has been a good deal of concern in the nonprofit community about changes to the charitable deduction, the real 2013 story for the nonprofit and philanthropic sector will be how it deals with reductions in government spending that are coming in one way or another.  The recent focus on proposed reforms to the charitable deduction are important given the broader value philanthropy provides society as a driver of innovation and diversity, but government is by far the largest funder of the nonprofit sector and reductions in government spending will be something that nonprofit and philanthropic leaders will be confronting in the new year.”
Grimm is professor of the practice and director of the School of Public Policy’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, making him the first director and professor of a center focused on creating a new culture of philanthropy through developing more effective and innovative citizens and leaders committed to improving our world.  Grimm previously served as the Director of Research and Policy Development and Senior Counselor to the CEO at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Contact: 301-405-2186, rgrimm@umd.edu
Bio: http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/robert-grimm
Professor Chris ForemanChris Foreman: Immigration Reform
“Having been pivotal in the Obama re-election, Latinos will surely expect to see action, especially after having sat patiently through the first term and loyally delivered millions of votes.  Our challenge of millions of unauthorized residents continues, and I would predict considerable griping directed the president’s way unless we see concrete movement.”
Foreman is professor and director of the School of Public Policy’s social policy program where he teaches courses on political institutions and the politics of inequality.  His book, Signals from the Hill: Congressional Oversight and the Challenge of Social Regulation, won the 1989 D.B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress.

Contact: 301-405-0442, cforeman@umd.edu
Bio: http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/christopher-foreman
Professor Nate HultmanNathan Hultman: Climate Change and U.S. Security
“Hurricane Sandy underscored the fundamental link between our own national well-being and climate-related hazards.  In 2008, both presidential candidates agreed on the science of climate change and the need for some risk management actions.  While the salience of climate change receded in the polarized politics of the past few years, bipartisan interest is now re-emerging to address the real risks that we as a country are facing today from weather events and climate change.  Senator Boxer, for example, has called for a “climate change caucus” and notable Republicans have issued statements calling for a renewed evaluation of our own domestic climate risks and their relation to national security.  U.S. action on climate change is more likely in 2013 than any time in the past four years.”
Hultman is associate professor, director of the School of Public Policy’s environmental policy program, and associate director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a collaboration of UMD and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  His research focuses on international climate policy, decisions about climate risks in policy and investment, and the emerging markets for carbon and greenhouse gases.

Contact: 301-405-3429, hultman@umd.edu
Bio: http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/hultman
International Issues
Professor Phillip SwagelPhillip Swagel: U.S.-China relations
“For China, 2013 will be a year of small steps toward a needed large economic reform.  The agenda for China includes allowing more currency flexibility, increasing the openness of trade and financial flows, rescuing banks from problems with bad loans, strengthening pension and health care systems, tackling pollution, and dealing with endemic corruption.  Progress on these dimensions is vital for China and beneficial for the United States, since it would boost business and consumer spending in China and thereby support U.S. exports and economic recovery.”
Swagel is professor of international economic policy and co-author of the recent book, Awkward Embrace: The United States and China in the 21st Century.  He served as an assistant Treasury secretary in the George W. Bush administration. Before that, he served as chief of staff and senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and as an economist at the IMF and the Federal Reserve Board.

Contact: 301-405-1914, pswagel@umd.edu
Bio: http://publicpolicy.umd.edu/phillip-swagel
Professor I.M. "Mac" DestlerMac Destler: Iran
“I’m afraid the top international issue of 2013 will be Iran’s nuclear program and U.S. efforts to negotiate an understanding that will avoid either (1) Iran’s obtaining nuclear weapons or (2) a military attack, plausibly by Israel, to prevent (1) from taking place.  President Obama is likely to launch serious bilateral conversations, perhaps negotiations, with Iran.  He faces a daunting international challenge – winning binding Iranian commitments and managing the coalition of nations (U.N. Security Council members plus Germany) whose cooperation is essential.  He also faces serious challenge at home – any deal will involve easing of U.S. sanctions, but this will require action by a skeptical Congress.”
Professor Destler specializes in the politics and processes of U.S. foreign policymaking.  He is co-author of In the Shadow of the Oval Office, which analyzes the role of the President’s national security adviser from the Kennedy through the George W. Bush administration.  His American Trade Politics won the Gladys M. Kammerer Award of the American Political Science Association for the best book on U.S. national policy.

Contact: 301-405-6357, mdestler@umd.edu
Bio: http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/destlerm
rofessor John SteinbrunerJohn Steinbruner: Iran
“A range of international security issues will be important in 2013, including global climate change, managing the transition of security in Afghanistan, and resolving international tensions about Iran’s nuclear program.  It is hard to separate these issues from one another, but if I were to give immediate priority to one, it would be Iran.  Tensions about the Iranian nuclear program are bound to rise in the first part of the year and calls for military action will grow louder if the potential for a diplomatic solution doesn’t gain standing.  Regular negotiations between the United States, Europe, and Iran – without preconditions – would be the critical sign of the parties’ seriousness of purpose, but this has not yet occurred.  The broad outlines of a diplomatic solution are widely acknowledged, but the necessary specifications cannot be worked out under an imposed deadline.  Adequate time and sustained effort are necessary to work out the details and overcome belligerent political opposition on all sides.”
Professor Steinbruner directs the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland.  His work has focused on issues of international security and related problems of international policy, and he has authored and edited a number of professional books and monographs, including, The Cybernetic Theory of Decision: New Dimensions of Political Analysis; Principles of Global Security; and A New Concept of Cooperative Security.  In 2010, he chaired the Committee on Deterring Cyberattacks of the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council.

Contact: 301-405-4578, jsteinbr@umd.edu
Bio: http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/john-steinbruner
Assistant Professor Madiha AfzalMadiha Afzal: The U.S. and South Asia after Afghanistan
“The drawdown of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and its implications for the South Asian region – Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India – will be a top issue in 2013.  The U.S. will need to decide what kind of presence it wants to retain in Afghanistan, as both Pakistan and India vie for a role in the country.  The stability of both Pakistan and Afghanistan lie in the balance, given that the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban both remain significant threats.  All this will take place in the context of a fraught but necessary relationship with Pakistan, and a steadily growing strategic partnership with India.”
Afzal is an assistant professor.  She has been a consultant to the World Bank and conducted fieldwork and participated in survey design and analysis for a qualitative gender study in Pakistan.  Her research interests range from studying elections to the functioning of the bureaucracy, to examining ethnic violence, community participation, decentralization and corruption in South Asia.

Contact: 301-405-8676, mafzal@umd.edu
Bio: http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/madiha-afzal
About the UMD School of Public Policy
The School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland is an internationally renowned program dedicated to improving public policy and international affairs.  It is the only such school in the capital area embedded within a major public research institution.  The school prepares knowledgeable and innovative leaders to make an impact on the profound challenges of the 21st century.  Faculty include the 2005 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics; former officials who have held key positions in Democratic and Republican administrations, including U.S. trade representative, undersecretary of defense, commissioner of the Social Security Administration, and director of the U.S. National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect; and leading researchers in a host of public policy disciplines.