Our economy has the potential to grow at a real rate of 3% or more. For eight years after 2008 we grew at a slower rate (sub 2%) and were stuck in a deflationary environment. We need to promote policies which will incentivize business formation and increase investment and productivity. Increased productivity in turn will lead to wage growth, better jobs and economic prosperity. Two of the most controlled sectors – education and healthcare have seen slow productivity growth and increased prices. We need a redesign of our policy framework for both these sectors to jump start innovation and growth.
TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
We need a modern transportation system for the 21st century. We need to prepare for the ride-sharing economy, self-driving vehicles and work mobility. This requires investing to maintain our highways and transit system but also leveraging technology to contain congestion and improve usage and efficiency. Our policy mix needs to recognize that our roads and trains will have a larger technological and software component and the specifications and adoption of that software will have to be driven by the government.
We need to make healthcare affordable for every American. Healthcare is the most regulated sector of our economy and as a result the prices for healthcare services and drugs have grown uncontrollably. There are those who are asking for more government control of our system when the facts clearly ask for a changed course of action. The current design of our system has no incentive for efficiency or cost control but incentivizes all providers to game the payment system. Even for those who have insurance, deductible, copays and out of pocket costs have become unreasonable. The way to change this is to increase price transparency of all healthcare services (physicians, hospitals and drugs), create incentives for cost innovation (versus mandates from CMS) , ensure seamless portability of medical records. Our system spends significant resources on treatments and drugs with marginal benefit. We need objective ratings and rankings of treatment efficacies which will lead to prioritization of higher efficacy treatments.
We need to make sure that every child has access to a good k-12 school system ensuring their proficiency in reading, math and other subjects. There are many failing schools which need reform. We need increased access to preschools so that every family has the option of sending their child to pre-school. High school is no longer sufficient for success in today’s economy and we need to invest in better vocational training and two year degree options. At the same time college needs to be made affordable for those who choose to pursue four year degrees and graduate school.
Our immigration system is broken – it encourages those who break the law and makes it difficult for immigrants who are law abiding. Our immigration has been and should continue to be based on three pillars – family reunification, merit (education or work) and refuge. We need to end the visa lottery and simplify the process of obtaining immigration under each of these categories. At the same time, illegal immigration needs to be curtailed. For those who have been in this country illegally for a long time (ten years or more), we need a compromise solution. No one should live in fear if they follow the process but there should be serious repercussions for those who break the immigration law. We need more merit-based immigration under the law. A system which allows illegal immigration allows human trafficking and exploitation.
We need to reduce human impact on climate. At the current trajectory of global emissions our planet will see unprecedented global warming and rising sea levels. We need to put in place policies which create a carbon less economy through electrification of our transportation, through increased renewables and through energy efficiency. The developed world will not be able to change the trajectory if we cannot get the developing nations to agree to a real plan to tackle this challenge. That requires a honest discussion among top polluting countries to device credible measures to reduce emissions. We have to pursue fair and honest agreements which promote equality in carbon intensity across all countries and not engage in cosmetic deals (like Paris Agreement).
FOREIGN POLICY AND DEFENSE
We should promote peace through strength. Our foreign policy should be driven by our values, our interests and a pragmatic understanding of the facts on the ground and our ability to influence them. While we should avoid naïve idealism, we still need to be a force for change and promote peace, harmony and human rights around the world. We should be laser focused on our homeland security – both physical and cyber - with zero tolerance for extremist propaganda and proliferation of WMD. We should reform the institutional framework which allows others to take advantage of us and promote fair and free trade with respect for intellectual property rights.