Snow Defends U.S. Economic Policy
Q & A
The former CSX CEO says market oriented strategies are working.
What should the U.S be doing to maintain its competitiveness?
The key there is maintaining the basic free-market orientation of the American economy-maintaining our innovativeness, our entrepreneurship, our spirit of enterprise. So maximizing the role of free market forces is the priority and using governmental powers to eliminate the impediments that get in the way of the good performance of the economy. [This involves] things like reducing the cost of litigation in the U.S., frivolous lawsuits, which we're trying to do, and things like maintaining open trade - the Central American Free Trade Agreement is very important to America. Putting in place an energy policy is awfully important.
So maintaining the fundamental structure of an open, resilient, innovative, enterprise-driven, market-based economy lies at the heart of our success. And, of course, you can't be successful unless you have a good education system, involving things like the No Child Left Behind policy from the President. A good immigration policy is so important, [as is] keeping our great academic centers strong and well-funded.
What can be done to get energy prices, including natural gas, in line?
We suffer from the fact that we haven't had a real focus on energy policy for a long time. And the neglect of energy policy-the fact that we haven't had one -has put us in a difficult position today. The best thing we can do, it seems to me, is adopt the sort of proposals that the President sent to Congress, such as modernizing our infrastructure, creating more incentives, developing our own resources and moving into the oil alternatives and making greater use of nuclear. The administration has sent all of those ideas to Congress, but I think we have to recognize that we are paying the price for a long period of time when the country didn't take the steps that should have been taken.
Critics say the U.S. has lost the competitive edge it once held in the Internet and broadband and that the Bush Administration is mostly ignoring this issue. What is your view?
The President has called for broad access to broadband, to deregulation of our telecommunications markets and the policies that would provide for innovation in the telecommunications space. It is one of the most important sources of innovation in the American economy. Wc need to get serious about moving towards a market-based telecommunications system because a market-based system is the only way to assure us that we are adapting in response to the best innovative technologies that are available.
In our survey, respondents said President Bush appears to be spending too much time on Social security and not enough time on other issues, including health care costs, budget deficits and trade issues, as well as our deficit with China. Are we putting our focus on the right things?
Oh, absolutely. There's no doubt about that. Social security is the issue the President is taking to the American people at this time because it's much better understood. It's been studied even,- which way to Sunday. It's all about demographics, about the changing nature of the American work force and it's pretty straightforward.
Medicare and Mcdicaid arc more complicated. They reflect incredibly complex issues, such as rising health care costs and the forces behind that, deep-seated political, moral, ethical and philosophical questions about die health care system. I suggest to your readers, if we can't solve Social security, which is much more straightforward, if we can't find the political will to deal with that one, it's going to be nigh on impossible to find the political will to deal with the much more complicated issues of Medicare and Medicaid. …