Monday, January 18, 2021

Priorities for the new president

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Hello.

Last Tuesday, after corporate groups came out in force to support the legitimacy of the November elections, I wrote in this space: “Can we just move on now?” It was not to be. The insurgency on Capitol Hill on Wednesday kept Donald Trump where he always wanted to be, the center of national attention.

But in nine days, one way or another, there will be a new president. And there is much to be done if America is to “build back better.” My priority list:

—Accelerate the deployment of vaccines, so that the country can resume its activities as quickly as possible.

—Provide additional, but targeted, financial support to those in desperate need.

—Start a bipartisan infrastructure effort, defined broadly enough to include measures that would lead the country towards universal broadband and better green energy infrastructure.

—Launch a national education and training effort, designed to provide expanded opportunities for those at risk of being left behind by the technological transformation that accelerated during the pandemic.

—Develop a coherent national climate policy around the ambitious goal of achieving zero net emissions by 2050.

– And finally, do all of the above with some degree of bipartisan support, to make sure the solutions are stable and are not reversed as soon as the political winds change.

It is a program that most – perhaps most – of the business community could support and help implement. In in-depth discussions with business leaders as part of our CEO initiative last year, Fortune learned that this is a program that many want. (Learn more about this effort and its results, here.)

It would have helped if, in his studied effort to assemble a diverse cabinet, President-elect Biden had seen fit to find at least one experienced CEO to include in the mix. He had many who supported him and were ready to serve. In avoiding them, he followed the path of Barrack Obama, not of Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy – in other words, every other Democratic president in recent history. Too bad.

But he stayed at the center, choosing pragmatic, business-oriented economic nominations like Janet Yellen, Brian Deese, Pete Buttigieg and, last week’s new addition, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. (See this smart room Fortune made on the governor last June, and this report on his comments at the CEOs initiative in October). The opportunity still exists for a new era of collaboration between business and government to meet pressing needs. Let’s go.

More news below.

Alan murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com



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