The language of Brookings Institution scholar Bruce Katz (no relation), whom Gov. Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island Foundation have invited into the state to offer consultation on economic development, might seem so close to some on the political right that casual news consumers would get the impression of substantial common ground.
In a short YouTube video, Katz says modern America needs a “pragmatic, collaborative federalism,” and federalism — the idea that power should be dispersed across the nation at the lowest level of authority possible — is a cornerstone of conservative philosophy. Katz sounds like a free-marketer when he exclaims, “Let’s free up the states and cities and metros!” They “should be empowered to innovate.” The federal government will back off to give them “room.”
But for those willing to listen, Katz points to the critical distinction that makes all the difference. Under his vision, “the federal government would lead on what matters,” by “providing incentives” that would guide the “transition to a different kind of American economy.” He doesn’t mean an economy in which we all pursue our dreams, but rather one in which experts in Washington have figured out what our dreams should be.