2. A New G.I. Bill
Over the past decade, millions of Americans have lost jobs as a result of globalization. Because of competition from abroad, their skills no longer command a living wage. They still can and want to work but are ill prepared for the labor market. In other words, they are a huge untapped and underdeveloped resource.
The United States faced this situation once before, in 1945. In the 12 years of the original G.I. Bill, about half of the nation's 16 million veterans used it for college or training, leading to substantial gains in educational attainment. Today, the United States has a much bigger higher education system that is ready to receive globalization's veterans, who are in just as much need of reintegration into the labor force. Call it the Globalization and Integration Bill.
3. A New Sputnik Moment
The launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union in 1957 led the federal government to double funding for science as a share of the economy within only six years. There may be no satellite to prove American inferiority in science today, but there is a particle accelerator: the Large Hadron Collider in Europe, which might have been surpassed by the Superconducting Super Collider in Texas had Congress not canceled it in 1993.
Putting such iconic projects aside, the American lag in science is visible in other important ways. Korea's National Research Foundation spends $55 per person, compared with $22 for the U.S. National Science Foundation, even after recent budget increases. The U.S. economy produces fewer patents per dollar of GDP than Korea, Japan, and China. The unfortunate fact that millions of Americans -- and even some top politicians -- reject scientific evidence for evolution and global warming doesn't help, either. Right now, federal funding for science as a share of the economy is back where it was in the 1950s. Another big boost would be a powerful signal of the economy's potential for future growth.
President Obama named all three of these investment priorities in his 2011 State of the Union address, and even Republican leaders have admitted in private that this kind of government spending can create jobs. Yet in their actions, they haven't shown the level of ambition needed to push the U.S. economy onto a higher growth path. It's time to stop messing around and start thinking big. The time for a true supply-side stimulus is now.