America faces challenging new realities in a changing world. The economy is faster, smarter, more competitive and more global. But our federal budget is upside down because too many in Congress are more focused on holding onto problems for political gain than solving them. Balancing the budget over time requires sensible tax policy and smart cuts. At the same time, our economic future depends on making smart investments. Below are four of my priorities to compete in the 21st Century:
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. Similarly, 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. These scientific investments have transformed our world and raised the quality of life for millions; equally important, they've also created good-paying jobs for San Diegans.
In fact, according to a recent study, San Diego’s innovation technology sector accounted for more than 141,000 jobs in 2013 – about 10% of the region’s total workforce. Notably, the average wage in this sector is more than $100,000 (more than double the region’s average salary), and each support an additional 1.6 local jobs. These industries are critical to our local economy, and San Diego deserves a representative who recognizes the importance of ensuring that they continue to thrive.
But Congress is wavering on these investments. Scientific research funding is not keeping pace with inflation, and is even being cut. Disappointingly, the funding budgeted for research is increasingly allocated to serve politics or bureaucracy, and not to support the most rigorous and promising scientific advances. Combined with draconian sequestration cuts, investment in San Diego's research and innovation economy has been in decline. We want the next Google or Qualcomm or the next medical breakthrough to happen in San Diego, but without serious commitment to maintain and aggressively increase investment, that next innovation could be created by a UCSD graduate ... in China or England rather than San Diego, or California.
In Congress, I'm fighting alongside other San Diego representatives for adequate and consistent funding for scientific research. Investing in research is one of the best ways we can drive American competitiveness and job creation while improving San Diego’s international profile as a growing innovation hub.
Invest in our Green Economy
As a member of Congress, I consider the development of a sustainable energy policy a top priority.
I serve as the Chair of the Climate Task Force for the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, working to create green collar jobs by advancing policies that promote clean energy, domestic manufacturing, and the development of renewable energy resources.
As a nation, we must work toward a long-term energy policy that: 1) creates new American jobs; 2) emphasizes greater energy independence; 3) invests in the development of alternative fuels; 4) promotes clean energy technology like wind and solar; and 5) ensures greater national security.
Invest in our Children
The economy, especially in San Diego, runs on brainpower. If we don’t educate our children, our nation won’t be able to compete. We need to make sure our K-12 education system is preparing our kids for college and ensure that any student who qualifies and wants to go to college can afford to do so. For those who do not choose a four-year degree, we must work toward establishing our community colleges as centers for job training and placement.
Reform our Tax Code and Balance the Budget
We saw the dangers presented by the partisan gridlock in Congress when we repeatedly went down to the last moment to raise the country's debt limit and even shut down the federal government because we couldn't reach a compromise. We can't continue to consider not paying our country's bills and risking the basic function of our nation's finances because extreme members of Congress can't play well with others. I introduced the Protect America's Credit Act to tie the debt limit increase to the nation's GDP growth, and the Pay Down Our Debt Act to require a negotiated budget compromise if the debt starts growing faster than the nation’s economy. Combined, these reforms will help keep our credit safe around the world while still allowing for tough fiscal discipline at home.
We must also reform the nation’s tax code so American companies are encouraged to create jobs in America. We should work to incentivize companies that build and expand here at home, rather than abroad. That’s why I’ve supported measures to support and expand R&D tax incentives and to strengthen the competitiveness of American small businesses in our economy.
And we must immediately end subsidies to oil companies that are among the most profitable companies ever. The fact that oil companies are subsidized by the taxpayers while making record profits – and while middle-class Americans are struggling – makes absolutely no sense. Keeping the earnings and jobs created by American companies at home and ending subsidies will help get us back on the road toward a balanced budget.
We must balance the budget, but we've got to do it the right way. And it shouldn't be on the backs of seniors and the middle class. I only support a budget that simultaneously cuts wasteful spending, tackles our long-term debt, preserves a safety net, reforms the tax code to encourage competitiveness abroad and job creation at home, supports a strong military and makes the investments in infrastructure, education and basic scientific research that will support our country and our children into the next century.