Last Tuesday, after business groups came out in force to support the legitimacy of the November election, I wrote in this space: “Can we just move on now?” It was not to be. The insurrection at the Capitol on Wednesday has kept Donald Trump where he always wants to be, at the center of national attention.
But nine days from now, one way or another, there will be a new president. And there is much to do if the U.S. is going to “build back better.” My priority list:
—Accelerate the roll out of vaccines, so the nation can get back to business as quickly as possible.
—Provide additional, but targeted, financial support to those who desperately need it.
—Launch a bipartisan infrastructure effort, defined broadly enough to include measures that would move the country toward universal broadband and better green energy infrastructure.
—Launch a nationwide education and training effort, designed to ensure expanded opportunities for those at risk of being left behind by the technological transformation that accelerated during the pandemic.
—Craft a coherent national climate policy around the ambitious goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
—And finally, do all of the above with some degree of bipartisan support, to ensure the solutions are stable, and aren’t reversed as soon as the political winds change.
That’s an agenda that much—perhaps most—of the business community could support and help implement. In extensive conversations with business leaders in our CEO Initiative last year, Fortune learned it’s an agenda many of them crave. (See more on that 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 willing to serve. By avoiding them, he has followed the path of Barrack Obama, not Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, and John Kennedy—in other words, every other Democratic president in recent history. That’s too bad.
But he has stuck to the center, choosing pragmatic and business-minded economic appointees like Janet Yellen, Brian Deese, Pete Buttigieg and, last week’s new addition, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. (See this smart piece Fortune did on the governor last June, and this report on her comments to the CEO Initiative in October). The opportunity still exists for a new era of business and government collaboration to address pressing needs. Let’s get on with it.
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