JOBS/ECONOMY

Investing in America to Face the Challenges of a Changing World
America faces challenging new realities in a changing world.  The economy is faster, it’s smarter, more competitive and more global.  And our federal budget is upside down because our Congressional representatives are more focused on holding on to problems for political gain than solving them.  Balancing the budget over time will require sensible tax policy and smart cuts.  At the same time, our economic future depends on making smart investments.  Here are three investments we must make to compete in the 21st Century.

Invest in our Infrastructure
Our parents, Republicans and Democrats, made the national public investments that made our country an economic engine.  A national system of highways, railways, bridges.  A power transmission grid.  A network of phone lines for communications.  We need to make the same investments today, in rebuilding our roads and bridges, making our power grid smarter and more efficient, and supporting new means of communication for all Americans, through broadband and wireless.

A local illustration is at the Port of San Diego, where I serve as a Port Commissioner.  We provide maritime jobs that pay $10,000 more annually than the average San Diego job.  But one of our biggest challenges in growing that job base is our limited connection to the national highways and rail system.  We don’t have the ability to fund those connections by ourselves, but with a national strategy for ports, we could identify and make the investments that will help us increase trade and efficiency.  That could put a lot of San Diegans back to work right away. 

The rest of the world is not sitting around.  China invests 9% of its gross domestic product in infrastructure investment. Europe is investing 5%.  In America, we invest 2.5%, and Congress is trying to cut that.  In Congress, I will fight for infrastructure so we increase our competitiveness in a global economy.

Invest in our Children
The economy, in San Diego in particular, runs on brainpower.  If we don’t educate our children, our nation won’t be able to compete.  We need to make sure college is affordable for those who qualify.

America has always stood behind middle class kids who wanted to get an education and make a living.  I know because I was one of those kids.  My family could not have afforded college for me and my three sisters on the minister’s salary my father earned.  We got help from financial aid, including loans and work-study.  So did thousands of other kids, as well as veterans who had the GI Bill. 

And it’s harder for students and families today than when I went to college 30 years ago.  In that time, the cost of a public college education has gone up 350%, adjusted for inflation!  At the same time, the federal government is cutting back on Pell Grants and other financial aid.  That’s backwards.  As a member of Congress, I will fight to ensure that every student has the opportunity I had to get an education and to get ahead.  That’s the only way for us to compete in this global economy and to give our kids a shot at the American Dream. 

Invest in Research
San Diego knows the transformative economic power of scientific research.  The wireless technologies invented here spawned QUALCOMM, our largest private employer, created thousands of high wage jobs, and changed the way the world communicates.  SPAWAR supports jobs and investment in basic research for military applications -- the kind of research that led to the development of the internet and GPS.  And every day on Torrey Pines Mesa, researchers at Salk, Scripps Research, Sanford Burnham, UCSD and elsewhere use grants from the National Institutes of Health to find cures to Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.  Not only do those basic science investments create great jobs, but they have transformed our world and raised the quality of life for millions. 

But Congress is backsliding on these investments too.  Scientific research funding is not keeping pace with inflation, and it is being cut.  The money that is budgeted is increasingly allocated to serve politics or bureaucracy, and not to support the most rigorous and promising science.  At a recent visit to the Salk Institute, I heard that our best students are now looking at the future for science and wondering whether science in America is the best bet for them.  Other countries are committing to scientific investment in an aggressive way.  We face the prospect that the next Google or Qualcomm will be created by a UCSD graduate, but in China or in England instead of in San Diego or California. 

As a member of Congress, I will fight for adequate and consistent funding for scientific research.  That’s one of the best ways we can drive American competitiveness and job creation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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