Biden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security

Biden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security
© Getty Images

One of the most important long-term issues facing the United States was barely discussed during the presidential campaign: How do we insure the nation’s long-term growth and prosperity?

Neither candidate defined their visions for creating a vibrant, resilient, innovative economy that provides fair economic benefits and a decent standard of living for all Americans as the core of a strong nation. Indeed, the economy is the primary issue of our future, as economic strength is necessary for a capable national security.

Moreover, during the campaign, neither candidate presented a comprehensive, coherent strategy about how business, government and the nonprofit sector should cooperate to insure our growth prospects. To be sure, this long-term strategy is a necessary aspect of our future if we are to compete in the world economy.


For too long, government and business have treated each other as enemies; yet, that model is outdated because it cannot lead to a better future for all people. Simply put, we are at a critical juncture and we ignore this at our peril. We need to compete in the world as it is, not how we would like it to be.

We believe that President-elect BidenJoe BidenTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Biden, first lady send 'warmest greetings' to Muslims for Ramadan The business case for child care reform MORE ought to appoint a national bipartisan commission whose mandate will be to analyze the economic forces and trends in the world and offer policy options where government, business and the nonprofit sector ought to work together more closely.

The commission would in no way be a call for government control, nor for laissez-faire market dominance. Such a commission should be composed of people with experience, judgment and an understanding of business, government and the world, as well as an ability to set aside ideology and, above all, the desire to put the country first.

Their mandate should be to deliver the most effective strategic options possible within our value system and with no consideration for politics. The president’s responsibility will be to hold a national conversation, to focus on the best elements, to build coalitions and to compromise, and then to build a new working model for the country. The prescriptions will require flexibility as world and economic matters evolve.

We would suggest that the commission not address the necessary fiscal stimulus but focus instead on the long-term structural questions. The questions to be addressed are many, complex, and all interrelated.


Some of these are: How should these three sectors cooperate and support each other for the national good? What traditional industries do we need to protect, and what are the future industries we need to support? How do we secure natural resources which we lack domestically? Should we promote onshore manufacturing to secure our supply chains? How do we think about antitrust laws, which were designed for a domestic economy? Are there more effective ways to ensure a basic standard of living?

We should recognize that the end goal is a better life for our citizens and security for our country. Business relies on the market, but the market is a means to the goal, not a goal in itself. Government provides certain services and functions — but government is not the end-goal. Neither government nor the market alone can realize the country’s potential.

President-elect Biden will need to act boldly, not incrementally. The pandemic has accelerated a hopeful trend of government and business collaboration, especially in health care and financial-aid initiatives. Our foreign competition is relentless, and some countries have the resources, willpower and state/business partnerships which could severely endanger our standard of living over time. President-elect Biden needs to show the U.S. and the world that he is not trapped in antiquated thinking but is fully prepared to meet the challenges going forward.

China is a prime example of the new order. The Chinese state and Chinese corporations are partners, either explicitly or de facto, to buy and control strategic assets such as natural resources, ports and technology. They lend to other countries so as to exercise influence over those countries’ resources and geography. China’s “Belt and Road” plan is a perfect example: It uses China’s economic prowess to further the country’s strategic interests, all through this symbiotic relationship between government and corporations. The U.S. will never operate in the same way that the Chinese do, but we must use all of our tools for self-protection so long as those comport with our values.

Most presidents come into office with one or maybe two pressing problems. President-elect Biden will face a multitude. But while addressing our current crises, he also must plan for continuing threats to our long-term growth.

The president-elect should give the commission one year to issue its report. It will then be his task to build a national consensus, take the actions he can, and persuade others of the actions they must take.

To paraphrase the words of Huey Long — this matter is so important that we must rise above principle.

Elliot Stein is the chairman of Acertas and Senturion Forecasting.

Douglas E. Schoen is a political consultant and served as an adviser to President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonA leadership menagerie of metaphorical scapegoats How Democrats can defy the odds in 2022 Biden is thinking about building that wall — and that's a good thing MORE and to the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign of former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergThe truth behind companies' 'net zero' climate commitments The strategy Biden needs to pass his infrastructure plan Bloomberg, former RNC chair Steele back Biden pick for civil rights division MORE. His latest book is “Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership.”