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Obama's Metro Presidency


  • This article draws on research undertaken by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program for its Blueprint for American Prosperity initiative, MetroNation report (Berube, 2007), and MetroPolicy report (Muro et al., 2008).

*Correspondence should be addressed to Bruce Katz, Brookings, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036;


Metropolitan areas are the unequivocal engines of the US economy and our prosperity because they spatially concentrate at an unprecedented level the assets that matter, assets like innovation, human capital, and infrastructure. The national government must pursue a Metro Policy to help cities and metropolitan areas leverage these critical assets in the service of productive, sustainable, and inclusive growth. There are early signs that the Obama Administration embraces this new vision of Metro Policy. The President's rhetoric recognizes the critical role cities and metropolitan areas play in the national economy and the need for a new generation of federal policies that leverage this economic primacy. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and FY 2010 budget invest directly in the assets that drive prosperity. But President Obama inherits a federal government replete with legacy programs, diminished in capacity, and without a coherent federalist philosophy, which will be obstacles for the structural reform necessary for Metro Policy.