Why America needs a national plan
March 21st, 2014
10:41 AM ET

Why America needs a national plan

By Jon Huntsman, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Jon Huntsman is a former Republican governor of Utah and former U.S. ambassador to China and Singapore. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

The February jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offered a sliver of good news:  an estimated 175,000 jobs were created last month, substantially exceeding the forecast of 149,000. And for the first time in nearly four years – in 46 months, to be exact – more unemployed Americans found jobs than got discouraged, stopped looking, and left the labor market, according to economists.

Encouraging as that news is, we still have a long way to go to reach the level of job growth that will return our economy and workforce to full health and we can’t afford to sit by, keep our fingers crossed that such progress continues, and wait. Instead, we need to come together as a nation, as we’ve done before during times of crisis, and rally around the critical goal of accelerating job growth. The problem is that while Americans broadly agree on what our priorities as a nation should be, Washington is as divided as ever.

At No Labels, an organization devoted to the politics of problem solving and consensus building that I co-chair with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, we’re examining bipartisan-backed policies to promote job growth. It’s the first step in our campaign to forge a new governing process in America – a national strategic agenda based on goals that both sides of the political divide develop together.

You’d never know from the highly polarized political discourse today that on the big goals and priorities for this country, the American people, if not their elected officials, are fairly united. In a poll No Labels conducted late last year, we asked registered voters what our government should be focused on right now. Majorities from both parties pointed to priorities such as creating 25 million jobs in the next 10 years and securing Social Security and Medicare for the next 75 years. Goals such as a balanced budget and energy self-sufficiency were also important to both sides.

We’re starting with the most urgent need – jobs – and bringing together the best minds in economics and business, policy and politics, to seek common-sense policy prescriptions that both parties can embrace.

This campaign for a national strategic agenda, a shared vision for this country built around common goals such as job growth and entitlement reform, is not only doable, but absolutely necessary if we want to break the cycle of fighting and gridlock that has stifled our progress for too long.

During my career, I’ve lived overseas four times and traveled to numerous foreign countries. Most of them have had national strategies, clear ideas about where they need to go as a country and how they want to get there. Today, they are taking steps to strengthen their economies and their nations as a whole.

The United States is competing with these nations. But instead of pursuing clear goals to strengthen our future, we move from political crisis to political showdown with no overall game plan for our future prosperity.

On issue after issue, too many of our leaders retreat to their partisan corners before there’s any clear sense of where we’re headed. If members of both parties first came together to agree on overall goals and destinations, then the road to getting there – the hard work of developing policy to promote job growth and meet other challenges – would be smoother.

I know this is a process that works – and not just from my years abroad.

When I ran for governor of Utah, I brought together experts and stakeholders from across our state, listened to citizens and small business leaders, and ultimately put together a 10-point plan for the state. Once in office, I enlisted both Democrats and Republicans to help implement the plan, and eventually every goal was achieved.

We reformed Utah’s tax code. We improved primary education and the colleges in our state, as well as our infrastructure. We had the lowest unemployment and the highest rates of economic growth in the nation. The Pew Foundation named Utah the best managed state in the nation.

It all starts with a plan. More than 75 members of Congress have already endorsed this campaign for a national strategic agenda. The No Labels poll suggests the public is on board – 80 percent of those surveyed said there should be a single unified agenda for the country that reflects the goals of both parties by the time the next president takes office.

Throughout the last century, we’ve seen the nation rally around big, bold agendas such as universal public education, the interstate highway system, sending a man to the moon. These goals mobilized the political will of all our leaders and led to landmark achievements.

It’s time to harness that same political will and national energy, so February’s sunny jobs report is a harbinger of brighter days ahead for the labor market and economy, and not just a ray of false hope.

Post by:
Topics: Politics • United States

soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. GK

    Jon, I wanted to vote for you. I'm sorry I didn't get that chance. We need more grounded, experienced politicians like yourself. It's sad, but your field has went the way of TMZ and the biggest buck – talking heads that pander to valence emotions rather than rational arguments – just as Fareed's employer has went the way of following missing planes over intelligent analysis of global affairs (aside from its regular Sunday blocks, which I'm grateful for). But you gentlemen, please stay classy.

    March 25, 2014 at 9:33 am |
  2. chrissy

    @ The Mayor of Medinah, what kind plan do you think was used when the free trade act came into play? Do you think it was in that "plan" that american citizens would end up with no jobs and other countries would wind up owning more of the US than the citizens who live, work and die here? Some of them have never even entered this country! Well i gotta say THAT WAS ONE HELLUVA PLAN!

    March 25, 2014 at 10:54 am |
  3. ks

    lets shake something...claim CUBA now

    March 26, 2014 at 7:16 pm |
  4. Tom

    By the way. Please run for president again.

    March 26, 2014 at 9:06 pm |
    • Ferathka

      I agree. I am a liberal at heart but I supported this guy, I even donated to his campaign because he was the only sane and true one in that bunch that ran last time. Jon please run again, we need your common sense to lead our nation.

      April 20, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
  5. The sanctions are really working

    You mean our National Plan for the last 50 years of "Greed, greed and more greed" isn't working????????

    March 28, 2014 at 11:28 am |
  6. Aces

    Obama administration plans?!! LMFAO!!!!

    March 29, 2014 at 9:16 pm |
  7. Yeah yeah yeah

    If this guy runs for president I will definitely vote for him. Unfortunately he will try running as a Republican which means all the party's typical voters will not want him as the Republican candidate because he is not "conservative enough" We really need more than two political parties.

    March 29, 2014 at 11:19 pm |
  8. borisroberts

    What about the illegal aliens? We've got an estimated 11-20 million illegal aliens here, that seem to be working. I hear they do the jobs that Americans won't do. I don't buy that. I know plenty of carpenters that used to make a real good living, $30/hour or so, not rich, but comfortable, but are now making $15/hour, because an illegal alien will do that job for $12. The jobs that most of us (I mean Americans over 30 or 35 years old) started out doing, are now filled by illegal aliens. Can any of your kids find a job as a dishwasher or busboy? Mine can't. I did both. I also sanded cars at a body shop, did gardening in the neighborhood, and cleaned up at a construction site.

    I realize that the illegals aren't a 100% source of our employment issue, but they are a factor in it. And in our quest for cheap labor, and possible votes (I can almost guarantee that they will give them citizenship), both sides of the aisle have sold us out. I'm shocked that the Repubs have rolled over on this one. But big money it taking advantage of them, to the detriment of our country.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't hate them, my mother is an immigrant, so is my wife. But they did it the legal way, they didn't sneak across the borders and just squat until they were legalized. They weren't rewarded for being here illegally.

    I hate to see it, but it appears that the powers that be, are giving away our country.

    April 1, 2014 at 12:47 am |
    • The sanctions are really working

      You do realize that you might be the great grand son of an Anglo American that, in 1847, marched troops westwards, into California, Arizona, Texas & New Mexico, and committing a brutal act of murder followed by thieving, STOLE millions of square miles of land from the Mexicans, just like the US Cavalry, from 1800-1900, murdered over 2 million Native Americans and shoved over 6 million onto reservations! So calling anybody "illegal" and crying that they have taken your job, causes the rest of us to say: "Yeah right". Let's see if you can pick fruit, for 2 dollars an hour, like they do......... 🙂

      April 1, 2014 at 7:49 pm |
    • The sanctions are really working

      Taking a closer look at what has happened to America over the last 30 years, one does understand that over 50 million jobs have been "outsourced" to Asia, and this has shoved many a middle-class American towards the poor-class. But let's look at WHO gave those jobs away??? Of the 7500 CEO's that forked our superb high-paying jobs over to Asia, fully 95% of them are Anglo Americans!!! Their convenient excuse was EPA and other US Government regulations. But, the huge factor was cheaper labor costs, which allowed them to make twice as much money for themselves, creating a class of super-rich Americans, very few in number, that live in gated mansions atop hills, all across America. So, my friend, the awful greed of your own people have done ya in..........

      April 1, 2014 at 9:50 pm |
    • The sanctions are really working

      And while we are on the subject of greed being man's downfall, let me enlighten you about CEO Roy Blankfein and his buddies at Goldman Sachs. While the biggest crash of Wall Street since the Great Depression was happening, for 3 weeks in September of 2008, Blankfein and his cohorts were actually "shorting" options on housing stocks!!!!!! They were actually trying to amass huge fortunes for themselves right at the very moment that their own country was dying before their eyes!!!!!!!!!! And the SEC has credible evidence that this is exactly what was happening, and yet, not one single person from Wall Street has been sent to jail for this horribly greedy behavior........ such is the sick nature of human greed........... and is the primary reason that America is sinking..........

      April 2, 2014 at 12:53 am |
  9. greed is not good

    Remember Michael Douglas saying "Greed, is good", in the Hollywood film "Wall Street"??? Well, it turns out that Michael Douglas was lying, but the greedy pigs that run Wall Street took his comment seriously!!! btw, heard what has happened to Mike recently??? His son in in jail for drugs, his wife has left him, and he has throat cancer........ yes, the truth of the matter is: Greed, is NOT good. It is not good for the individual, and it is terrible for any society of humans. And yet, greed is what has motivated the Western World in most of it's behavior since 1491 AD......... don't you think it's time we re-calibrated our thinking in this regard????????

    April 3, 2014 at 11:48 am |
    • Brent

      ummm...Micheal Douglas was playing a character...in a movie. and the entire point of the film was to show that, contrary to what HIS CHARACTER said, greed is NOT a good basis for a life or a career.

      April 3, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
      • greed is not good

        Thank you Brent, for agreeing that Greed is NOT good. I was just being facetious about Michael Douglas, because of his comment in that movie, and because, amazingly, what has happened to him since that movie was made! Now, if only we can spread the word, to every single person in the Western World, that Greed is NOT Good, that would be a HUGE step in the right direction, for humanity......... 🙂

        April 3, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
  10. NAPOLEON Bonaparte - or 0 (zero) success

    The problem is USA does not have a successful general, the French have, such as Bonaparte NAPOLEON. Now, also FRANCE is more influential and more successful than USA. The jobs to Asia were not 'outsourced', but stolen from USA. The Finance Lobby (GS, MS, ...) lost not only jobs to Chinese, but did also not defend with the wright lobbying in The White House the loss from HONG KONG to Chinese. Now, a Lenovo PC manufactured in China is worth pennys, but HONG KONG is worth Trillions. In this sense, all the US bankers (WallStreet, Investment Banks, ...) are not worth anything (zero=0). STOP paying them.

    April 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
    • greed is not good

      My dear Napoleon, are you kidding??? Do you think us Americans do not know history??? Napoleon Bonaparte, circa 1800 AD, was the worst thing that ever happened to France!!! They were just recovering from beheading their KIng and his family, and then this upstart soldier, Napoleon, decides to step into leadership, and "conquer" the world, only to find out that over half the French Military got killed in the process, and Napoleon, who had the audacity to crown himself "Emperor", had to be exiled to the Isle of Elba....... 🙂 And let's talk about France today: You guys are in big trouble and your "socialist" infrastructure is in disarray! Many French people, used to getting 2 months vacation, and unbelievable retirement benefits, are finding out, very painfully, that the French "party" is over......... 🙂

      April 3, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
  11. Mark Martin

    Thank you Jon Huntsman. A very sensible proposal, yet almost no one commented on it. Instead, they blogged about their favorite special topics. Americans need to grow up.

    April 4, 2014 at 5:27 am |
    • Rob S

      A little short on ideas though, he really said nothing, like a typical GOP politician. Next, he'll try to sell (as evidenced by his referral to tax reform in Utah) tax cuts. If tax cuts created jobs, we'd be hip deep in them. We had a demand-side issue with the economy after the financial industry collapsed – sure there was cheap money, but very few people wanted to take the risk of more debt in the economic environment we found ourselves in. Instead, they stopped spending for a few years and cut down their debt (the ones with jobs, anyway, many of the other lost their homes). That's now changing, but slowly, because many people were hurt by the last great recession. It's not the goals that politicians are confused, or disagreeing, about – everyone wants to create jobs and economic growth, lower deficits and debt, and save social security and medicare. The way we go about it (and, most unfortunately, who gets credit for it) is where both parties disagree. The fact that the Democrats cannot get a jobs bill through Congress, and the only example Huntsman cites is more 'tax reform', speaks volumes.

      April 4, 2014 at 11:14 am |
  12. Chris Asking Question

    Karl Marx, Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Kadafi, Mubarick, UBL, Saddam Huessin, Chavez, etc., etc, etc, all had "national" or "world" plans. A Democratic/liberal or Republican/conservative national plan would be a disaster. Why can't we have a compromised plan?

    April 5, 2014 at 7:19 am |
    • greed is not good

      Good comment! The problem is that humans seem to prefer to be "polarized" instead of "compromised" (fight and be right, instead of trying to see what the other guy is trying to say!) ........ it comes from the fact that we are merely evolved primates (gorillas!), who have a genetic predisposition towards controlling the "clearing in the forest". The greed gene and the territorial gene seem to have "stuck" within us, and flourished.......... and history shows us the outcome......... 🙁

      April 5, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
      • Antoinette

        Bonobo's are too controversial?

        April 20, 2014 at 8:04 am |
    • Antoinette

      They all fail as they are all afraid to improvise on stage

      April 20, 2014 at 8:05 am |
  13. Leftcoastrocky

    And the plan is major investments in repairing and upgrading our infrastructure.

    April 8, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
  14. GOP Prayer - GOPers, Read Together and Out Loud With Me

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...Help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!

    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    April 11, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
    • Antoinette

      I love this one, specially because G(eneral) O(pinion) of the P(ublic) is a hijack from some house republicans that decided to fill in for the statistics.

      April 20, 2014 at 8:04 am |
  15. Leftcoastrocky

    Upgrading and repair of our infrastructure is the key not only for present jobs but more importantly future jobs.

    April 15, 2014 at 10:44 pm |
  16. David

    Notice the countries at top have higher tax rates.

    April 20, 2014 at 11:15 am |
  17. Vance

    No planned economy has every succeeded in out performing a free economy.

    There are no set of government bureaucrats that is smart enough or can gather and analyze the data fast enough to beat the free market.

    Planned economies are guarantors of shortage and deprivation. That is a fact.

    The Government needs to promote honest disclosure of the facts, then get out of the way. If Bernie Madhoff had told the truth about how he was dealing with his client's funds, there would not have been a problem.

    April 20, 2014 at 11:48 am |
  18. ELMO

    There are 50 economic plans in the United States not one. Our states have individual autonomy. We are not a nation state like others. Fareed should have learned this in his immigration classes. He frequently makes this misconception about the US. Its the same reason you can't have national gun control.

    April 20, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
    • skytag

      The article is by Republican Jon Huntsman, not Fareed, dimwit. And your devotion to having us compete in a global economy as 50 mini nations is just stupid.

      April 20, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
  19. blakenaustin

    Wrong again Mr. Huntsman. Far left nonsense masquerading under the guise of the GOP. Just another RINO perspective on life promoted by the far left media. The last thing we need is a national plan. Uncle Sam screws up virtually everything he touches. If the federal government would get out of the way and let the private sector do what comes naturally to it, we would see rapid economic recovery and job creation (good jobs).

    April 20, 2014 at 6:59 pm |
  20. alexander hamilton

    The hindu zacharia is dettached from reality. People on the ground is running to save their lives, people do not want this disaster call obamacare and the government continue asfixiate the people with taxes. Many americans are getting r eady for the end of the dollar and we all wonder if obama is doing that in purpose. Is that because he is a angry muslim "blame America first"? thing? on his mind the USA is the elefant in the room impeding a global brotherhood ....with a president like that, who need enemies? and then we have to read this zacharia obama's cheer leader STUFF.....get a life

    April 20, 2014 at 9:40 pm |
  21. Marty

    I simply do not trust the Federal Government. Far to often once Washington gets involved the program becomes corrupt and unmanageable. I say reduce the Federal involvement remove federal regulations and allow the States to prosper. Stales that prosper will attract people States that don't will shrink.

    May 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
1 2

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.