The biggest national policy discussions today are around how to get our economy moving again. In order to do this, we need to focus on two elements: regulatory reform and infrastructure investment.
Regulatory reform is a competitiveness issue. Burdensome regulatory requirements have become a tax on businesses and their employees. Our regulatory process now is mature, as are many of the valuable benefits of health, welfare and environmental protection. We must have a sensible approach to additional regulation that better reflects actual risks and economic reality. In addition, regulatory innovation would provide the necessary certainty that businesses require for long-term investment and employment decisions.
We also need to examine reform for project permitting. Public, private and federal stakeholders need to be able to work together to get necessary projects approved and into development faster.
The other key issue will be infrastructure investment and its impact on competitiveness and job creation.
Our highway/port/water and rail networks have served our economy well, but will not keep pace with projected demographic and economic growth. If this doesn’t begin to change, it will become another jobs issue harming US workers. The solutions are fairly straightforward. The nation’s freight railroads continue to invest record amounts of private capital into their rail networks. National policy needs to do the same by collecting more money from users of publicly-owned infrastructure and it needs to incent private money coming into the equation.
There is no magic solution. No one thing will solve this. The basic question our nation faces is whether we are going to maintain and build on the infrastructure advantage that helped the U.S. become the world’s most successful economy with proactive, pro-growth policies or allow it to become just another reason why the economy isn’t performing better.