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National security starts at home
Taking care of our own is essential for America to compete in the world
With less than ten more days left until President Donald Trump leaves office, the country is fixated on the debate over another possible impeachment and others measures to signal disapproval and impose a cost for Trump’s incitement of last Wednesday’s insurrection. Those measures – as well as any other unexpected moves Trump might make before January 20 – are likely to remain in the spotlight.
Flash forward a few weeks – to just after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration – and the discussion is likely to re-focus on national recovery. The situation in America is dire for tens of millions of Americans – more than 4,000 people dying a day, economic pain including the worst job losses the country has seen since 1939, a growing hunger crisis, and millions facing the threat of evictions when the national moratorium expires in a few short weeks.
The central focus of the debate will be on what it will take to get our country back on its feet again – as it should be. But there is also an international dimension to the recovery at home – if America remains wobbly, it won’t be able to compete with global economic forces and competitors like China. The overwhelming problems at home will weigh us down and take up a lot of bandwidth of the new U.S. administration.
When the debate shifts back to the next fiscal stimulus, it’s likely to fixate on bright shiny objects like whether another $2000 check Biden promised while stumping for Senate candidates in Georgia last week will pass. That’s an important question but reflective of the Beltway’s tendency these days to focus on tactics and advocacy talking points while avoiding the bigger picture.
The bigger picture is the need to make large public investments in order to revive the country's economy, create jobs, and rebuild the social safety net in a way that creates opportunity for all. For the second half of 2020, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell repeatedly urged for a stronger fiscal policy response to match what the central bank was doing on monetary policy. Congress – distracted by its own divisions and dysfunction – failed to act for nearly nine months in 2020 between the first and second stimulus. This fiscal policy paralysis happened at the same time that the pandemic spiked again – and perfect storm that is hitting millions of American hard.
Justice and accountability are needed to strengthen America’s democracy – building back better needs to have a democratic political reform component.
Equally important is putting America’s economy on a more stable foundation. This will require emergency actions in the first few weeks of the new administration. These steps will be the first of many needed to rewire America’s economy so that it can compete more effectively in the world.