The U.S economy is still in the doldrums. But former general and CIA director David Petraeus and Brookings scholar Michael O’Hanlon see the possibilities of a new economic boom on the horizon. IF the government doesn’t mess it up.
Here are the promising developments:
●An energy revolution. We are the world’s largest producer of natural gas, with a 100-year supply, and we are on track to become among the largest producers of crude oil.
●A manufacturing revolution. We are rapidly developing robotics and 3-D printing, areas in which the United States is among the world’s leaders.
●A revolution in life sciences.Genetics and stem-cell technology offer great potential in fields such as agriculture and pharmaceuticals and fundamentally new approaches in medicine.
●The IT revolution and the transition to cloud computing, in which we are also leading.
With all of these advantages, together with our North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, the energy-rich and economically dynamic Canada and Mexico, we could be on the threshold of the New North American Decades. The prospect is that North America — not China, Japan, Europe or India — will pull the world out of the global economic slowdown. But we will do so only if government gets the basics right.
But for these to come to fruition, Petraeus and O’Hanlon say, the government needs to cut the deficit and follow these policies:
●Regarding energy, agree on the Keystone XL pipeline while fostering partnerships between extraction companies and environmental groups; determine required regulatory rules; and grant a modest number of licenses to export natural gas.
●On infrastructure, drive the establishment of faster and cheaper Internet connections for most Americans to fully exploit the shift to cloud computing; and repair and rebuild roads, rail lines, ports, electricity grids and other assets that support our economic supply chains.
●On human capital, reform immigration policy; encourage science and technology study and research; and improve public schools while underwriting training in rigorous, relevant vocational skills.
●On finance, reform and simplify the tax code to stimulate savings; make health-care costs more visible; and help bring home the more than $2 trillion sitting offshore.
We see here an interesting blend of proposals from the left (raise revenue; more money for schools) and the right (balance the budget; approve the Keystone pipeline). They suggest a partisan balance: “We suggest that, for the good of the nation, each party agrees to achieve equal amounts of something neither wants to do: Republicans should produce, say, $500 billion in additional revenue over 10 years, and Democrats should identify $500 billion worth of reforms to entitlement programs over the same period.”
I wonder if the undoubtedly competent general may be positioning himself for higher office–despite his resigning in disgrace over an adulterous affair–as a post-partisan harbinger of hope.
At any rate, the optimism is refreshing.