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If readers of The New Republic’s website will let their eyes stroll down the right side of the page, they’ll discover a blog called “The Avenue.” It’s not the sexiest title, and it’s not about the latest White House rumors, but it’s one of the best running commentaries on how the federal government, and state and local governments are trying, or failing, to rebuild the economy. 

I’d point to a comment by Mark Muro and Sarah Rahman on the occasion of the Nobel Prize for Physics about how the corporate labs where breakthrough research was nurtured have largely been shut down. And how the Obama administration through the Energy Department is trying to revive these kind of labs.  Sadly, though, Muro reports in a followup, Congress has slashed spending for these new research hubs while adding money for all kinds of pork, including a Sen. Robert Byrd special for studying coal liquefaction in China. 

In addition to these two reports, have a look at what Howard Wial says about how the decline of the U.S. auto industry is affecting more than just Michigan.  These kind of stories tell you a lot about where the country is heading.