The technology community is eager to exploit its entrepreneurial spirit, and Bradford Brown says the president must lead the way.
It's not lost on anyone in Washington power circles that "Happy Days Are Here Again" makes a better campaign theme than "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" On that note, the entire Bush administration economic team was recently replaced. Insiders thought former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was a lousy communicator, and as a result it appeared the administration, while highly engaged in the war on terrorism, wasn't focused enough on economic issues.
The administration, in fact, isn't ignoring the economy, but the war on terrorism is creating an emotional climate that regularly tests our confidence in ourselves and, ultimately, in our president. Things will get better. The political question is, how long will it take? The truth is, monetary policy alone won't be enough to jump-start this economy, and the Bush tax cut that's being implemented over time needs to be accelerated and supplemented with an additional stimulus package. The administration has proposed such a plan, and O'Neill's proposed replacement, John Snow, the former CEO of rail operator CSX, will be one of the people responsible for selling it, assuming he's confirmed by the Senate.
President Bush has been reassuring about our national and economic security, but that can only go so far politically--reassurance is about the present, elections are about the future. The technology community embraces the future with a focus on economic growth, grounded in the very essence of the free market: create, invest, build, market, sell, prosper. That entrepreneurial spirit has created a lot of jobs and a lot of wealth.
There's entrepreneurial capital sitting on the sideline waiting for the right economic climate to emerge. The challenge for the new Bush economic team will be to convince the financial community that the administration understands the problem, has a proposal that makes sense, and is prepared to do what it takes to get that proposal implemented.
The president is a strong and trustworthy leader, and in times of crisis Americans will stand by him. But when we move beyond the crisis, we'll want to hear the good news. And if there isn't any, we'll want to know why.
Bradford Brown is chairman of the National Center for Technology & Law at George Mason University School of Law. During the administration of George H.W. Bush, Brown served as the chief counsel for technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce. (Any opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the George Mason University School of Law.)
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