Launched in 2006 as an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution, The Hamilton Project is guided by an Advisory Council of academics, business leaders, and former public policy makers. The Project provides a platform for a broad range of leading economic thinkers to inject innovative and pragmatic policy options into the national debate. The Project offers proposals rooted in evidence and experience, not doctrine and ideology, and brings those ideas to bear on policy debates in relevant and effective ways.
The Hamilton Project was launched in April 2006 as an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution by a unique combination of leading academics, business people, and public policy makers who wanted to develop a serious, systematic strategy to address the challenges that our economy faces. In support of this broad strategy, the Project puts forward innovative ideas from leading economic thinkers across the country to inject new, sometimes controversial policy options into the national economic debate. Then-Senator Barack Obama spoke at the launch and called the Project “the sort of breath of fresh air that I think this town needs.”
From its first strategy paper, the Project set forth a clear policy path to promote our nation’s economic health, a strategy based on three interrelated principles: that economic growth must be broad-based to be strong and sustainable over the long term; that economic security and economic growth can be mutually reinforcing; and that an effective government can improve economic performance. These ideas, especially in combination, offer a strikingly different vision from the economic policies that contributed to the alarming trends in rising income inequality and a mounting federal deficit.
Since its launch, the Hamilton Project has released dozens of papers, hosted events for thousands of attendees, and published two books — all on a wide range of issues, from economic security, to energy, to health care. With groundbreaking papers and thought-provoking public events, the Project continues to make an immediate impact in policy-making circles.
The Hamilton Project is led by Jay Shambaugh, who is also a professor of economics and international affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. Shambaugh follows a prestigious group of former directors, all of whom have played significant roles in public service. The founding director of The Hamilton Project was Peter R. Orszag, who went on to become director of the Congressional Budget Office and then director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. The following director was Jason Furman, who subsequently served as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and is now a professor of the practice of economic policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Douglas W. Elmendorf, who subsequently directed the Congressional Budget Office and is now Dean of the Kennedy School at Harvard University, was the third director. Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and a former chief economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Melissa S. Kearney, professor of Economics at the University of Maryland were the fourth and fifth directors, respectively. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach served as the sixth Hamilton Project director, and she is currently the Margaret Walker Alexander Professor of Human Development and Social Policy and director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.
The Project is named after Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first Treasury Secretary, who laid the foundation for the modern American economy. An immigrant born into poverty and self-schooled in his early years, Hamilton symbolizes the traditional American values of opportunity and upward mobility that motivate the Project’s work. He fostered the nation’s capital markets, encouraged commerce, and stood for sound fiscal policy.
The guiding principles of the Project are consistent with Hamilton’s belief that broad-based opportunity for advancement drives American economic growth. Furthermore, Hamilton recognized not only the substantial power of markets to deliver economic growth, but also the need for “prudent aids and encouragements on the part of government” to enhance and guide market forces. Hamilton was the first architect of American prosperity and is an apt symbol for what we are trying to do in our time.