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The U.S. is on the precipice of a wildly competitive economic environment, already subjecting American workers and American businesses alike to the pressures of truly global competition. In this environment, the GOP's emphasis on the competitiveness of the American economy makes Republicans a natural fit for the role as the "party of jobs." But as per the usual in GOP politics, the good ideas the party has are upstaged by a few shockingly bad ones.
I recently published an article in The Atlantic about rising income disparities in the U.S. (and other developed nations) and the overall decline of labor relative capital. I recommend you read the article, but in short, the rise of digital communication and containerized shipping globalized supply chains and created a truly global market for labor. The familiar story is that these forces allowed jobs to be "outsourced" abroad. Though this is obviously true, the more interesting and profound story is that globalization exerted downward pressure on wages for low-skill labor, created a premium for high-skill labor, and created global competition for investment capital. These three interrelated consequences of globalization are game changers for developed economies like the U.S.
There are three things the U.S. needs to do if it's going to succeed in a truly globalized market for labor: (1) We need to attract and retain investment capital in order to create jobs; (2) We need to attract talent from abroad through immigration reform; and (3) We need to produce talent at home through education reform.
1. Attracting and Retaining Investment Capital
The GOP needs to shift its focus from battling for lower personal income taxes to dramatically lowering corporate tax rates. Literally every economist of note agrees that high corporate taxes are a losing policy, and the U.S. has the highest statutory corporate tax rate in the developed world. A lower corporate tax rate will encourage businesses to generate more of their profits in the U.S and allow investment capital to remain here, instead of fleeing overseas in search of a lower tax bill.
2. Attracting Talent From Abroad
Here, the GOP needs to marginalize and stop funding the anti-immigration elements of its party. High-skill workers earn more money, spend more money, and pay more taxes, and we should be doing everything we can to attract and retain the world's best and brightest to get them earning, spending, inventing and investing here. The personal freedoms and economic opportunities that America offers to its citizens are what attracted immigrants like Andrew Carnegie, Albert Einstein, and John Von Neumann. These immigrants contributed immeasurably to America's economic and military dominance, putting us decades ahead of our competition – e.g., the Chinese just celebrated successfully landing a plane on an aircraft carrier, more than 50 years after we successfully landed a man on the Moon. The lesson is obvious: We can run our talent bench with a winning strategy, stealing everyone's best and brightest, or we can cling to some fictional history of a "pure" America and ignore the obvious reality that unless you're a Native American, someone in your family immigrated here from somewhere else.
3. Producing Talent at Home
The GOP needs to brand itself as the party of education reform. In order to do that, Republicans needs to marginalize and stop funding fanatics pushing for intelligent design instruction in public schools. This, like many of the GOP's losing platforms, is both a branding liability and preposterous policy. The modern economy is dominated by science and technology, and if children growing up in U.S. public schools are going to have any chance of competing against the other 6.6 billion people on this planet, they can't be brought up on theology masquerading as science. Intelligent people know this, so the fringe elements in the GOP pushing for intelligent design make the GOP look ridiculous to intelligent people. If truly religious people are offended by science – and many have been since the days of Galileo – they can pull their kids from public schools, since they are fortunate enough to live in a nation that respects their right to raise their children however they see fit.
Winning the Job Vote
In the abstract, the GOP's focus on the competitiveness of the U.S. economy makes it the rational choice for voters facing ever dimmer prospects in the daily struggle of earning a living and providing for their families. But in order to win the job vote, the GOP needs to clean out its bench, ditch the losing policies that are offending and disenfranchising voters, and focus on policies that will serve the U.S. labor market and the GOP well in the globalized economy.
Weigh in below: What do you think of these suggestions for how the GOP can become the party to help create jobs? What would you add to (or subtract from) the list?