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Some Words to the Wise...

February 13, 2013 3 minute Read by John Prestbo

Dear Mr. President: Congratulations on your reelection. Getting the economy growing again — we have laid down the challenge of reaching 4% annual growth — ought to be at the top of your administration’s agenda. Herewith is my wish list for your second term.

  1. Please nullify the stupid “fiscal cliff” response to our serious fiscal problems — and make it retroactive to January 1, 2013. Yes, I know Congress has to do it, but you should supply the leadership. Then get going on reforming the tax code. Your opponent had some proposals worth considering.
  2. Please get the ball rolling on Social Security and Medicare reform. If you create bipartisan “blue-ribbon” committees, make damn sure you accept their proposals and pass them along to Congress. You can add some ideas of your own if you like, but don’t lose sight of the objective: Fix these programs without screwing current recipients.
  3. Similarly, initiate a comprehensive reform of our immigration laws and regulations. Pay particular attention to putting out the welcome mat for foreign students in U.S. universities and post-graduate programs, and for foreign entrepreneurs. Our economy needs them.
  4. Impose an economic growth-rate mandate on your administration. Among other things, that would mean prioritizing initiatives and rule making according to their estimated contribution to growth. There are many considerations to take into account, sure, but make growth one of the crucial ones.
  5. Begin a program to reduce government spending and shrink the deficit, but be sure to make this a bipartisan effort. Here, too, economic growth ought to be the guiding principle in choosing where to trim first.

May I also suggest you and your closest aides read “The 4% Solution,” a book filled with well-reasoned suggestions about accelerating U.S. economic growth. And the book’s authors could become your unofficial brain trust for extending the momentum beyond your term in office. Sincerely, John Prestbo


Author

John Prestbo
John Prestbo

2012 Economic Growth Fellow

John Prestbo is retired as editor and executive director of Dow Jones Indexes. Previously he was markets editor at The Wall Street Journal. He has co-authored or edited several books over the past 30 years. The most recent is “The Market’s Measure: An Illustrated History of America Told Through the Dow Jones Industrial Average,” published in 1999 by Dow Jones Indexes. His column, Indexed Investor, appears on the highly regarded “MarketWatch” business and finance website. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University.

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