Stagnation, progress in Chicago trigger ideas for President Obama’s second term

By MarySue Barrett

In the weeks since the election, I’ve been pondering how the outcome will affect my world. On a personal level, will I ever again experience the pride of a U.S. president who hails from Chicago and who I have the pleasure of knowing? Doubtful.

Professionally, I heave a sigh of relief that the combativeness of election season is behind us, but brace myself for the year-end fiscal cliff debate in Washington and the pension fix that absolutely must be brokered in Springfield in January. These issues are critical to resolve, both for metropolitan Chicago’s immediate and long-term fiscal health, but also because their shadows cast a gloomy pall over every future-focused initiative in which MPC and our partners in policy change are engaged.

To further underscore the severity of these challenges, due in large part to Illinois’ reckless fiscal actions, our state is at the bottom of the heap on economic indicators. Among the nation’s 15 largest metropolitan areas, we rank 14th for growth in gross regional product, only beating out Detroit. And in a similar ranking among states, Illinois rates 47th, barely ahead of Missouri, Ohio, and Michigan. This stagnation is a pivotal problem — both for our region, which is hungry for growth, and for MPC, which is in the business of changing policies to unleash that growth.