CAN WASHINGTON JUMPSTART ENTREPRENEURSHIP?…. When the economic recovery finally comes (and it will soon, we hope) will it be a jobs-producing, income-boosting boom like the 1990s, or a relative dud like the Bush years? The answer will largely come down to the state of small business, source of nearly all net job growth in the U.S. economy for decades.

So what can Washington do now to open up new opportunities for America’s cutting-edge entrepreneurs? We take on this vital — and largely unasked — question in a special report in the latest issue of the Washington Monthly. We think you’ll find our answers illuminating and surprising.

Investor and blogger Paul Kedrosky explains that Lincoln and FDR both took advantage of crises to create new economic platforms on which entrepreneurs could generate growth, and Obama has the opportunity to do likewise.

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber argues than universal health care, if done right, could be a boon to entrepreneurship.

Washington Monthly editor Mariah Blake reports that creating a so-called “smart grid” could yield not only vast energy efficiency gains but a new wave of high-tech ventures — if Washington gets the regulations right.

Wired magazine senior editor Nicholas Thompson warns that America is falling behind in the global race to provide high-speed broadband, but that we can regain our momentum — and economic edge — if Washington chooses wisely.

New America Foundation fellow T.A. Frank bemoans the fact that the U.S. educates brilliant students from around the world, then sends them home to work for our competitors.

Finally, in Paul Glastris’ Editors Note, the Monthly‘s editor-in-chief wonders how different the world might be today if the trillions of dollars that the Bush administration helped direct into real estate and its attendant Wall Street exotica had instead been invested in the new platforms for entrepreneurs that technologists were talking about eight years ago? It’s a depressing thought, but it’s not too late for America to reach the next stage of capitalism that can benefit us all.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.