Press Releases

The Necessity of Economic Decision
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
September 17, 2019
Medium
 
A group of many of the nation’s top CEOs released a statement last month arguing that maximizing shareholders’ profits can no longer be the primary goal of America’s corporations. To some Americans, the message may come as a surprise; over the last several decades, shareholder primacy theory has fundamentally remade significant parts of our economy, shifting precedence from business development to enlarging short-term financial returns for stakeholders. The group, led by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, stressed the importance of capital investment, supporting local communities, and generating long-term value.
 
This is a start. American economic policy today suffers from an inability to identify a common good and set priorities required to realize it. The outcome is an active aimlessness, in which problems are often articulated without the intent or possibility of solving them. Absent the direction provided by priorities, we have no way to evaluate how the country is doing to begin with, nor can we identify related problems in a coherent way.
 

 
Conservatives like Ronald Reagan saw the incoherence of these goals when the liberalism of that time could not. Reagan noted in his first inaugural address that he was not elected to merely “preside over dissolution,” but to “reawaken the industrial giant” and remind the country of “our capacity to perform great deeds.” The Reagan legacy as we know it today set national priorities of making the American economy productive again and using American economic power to crush the Soviet Union. These priorities made the competing interests and ideologies that plagued the 1970s subordinate to national goals. Conservatism cut through tired debates to the core issues of American life, and was rewarded for it.
 
Ineffectual liberalism then has become incoherent neoliberalism today. The agenda pursued in recent years by President Obama and still proposed by policy elites of both parties is to import cheap labor and maintain standards of living through welfare income supports. It promotes financial services and digital technology as the core of the American economy, but allows our more productive manufacturing sector to evaporate away. It promotes an ever-increasing choice of social lifestyles, but refuses to make family formation — the foundation for our country’s continued existence — the basis for social policy. They want open borders but high domestic wages, and sustainable local economies without traditional families. It cannot achieve priorities because it does not actually set any to begin with.
 

 
The inability to set economic priorities in recent years helps create demand for things like socialism, however. As businesses spend less of their capital to improve the physical economy of equipment and skilled labor, Americans may increasingly look to government to pick up the slack to create good jobs, either by command-and-control regulation or through expanding the federal welfare state.
 
I believe we can do better than this. Instead of merely requiring artificial compensation to the “losers” of our current economic arrangement, we should work towards an economic system that creates fewer losers in the first place. But doing so will require being clear about what “winning” means, and setting clear priorities to advance it. In America, this has long been the dignity of work, strength of families, vibrancy of communities, and unity of nation. It is within our power to build an economy that promotes these values, and I believe we must.
 
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