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Mr. GARAMENDI. So share with us your thoughts about how we can grow the economy, and maybe share some of your own experiences, because you've employed many, many people during your tenure in business.
Mr. DELANEY. That's right. I appreciate my friend from California for providing me with this opportunity to talk about what I think is important for our economy, to get our economy going to create jobs.
We spend a lot of time, both in this Congress and in Washington generally, talking about the economic challenges that this country faces and about the employment challenges this country faces, and those conversations often evolve into conversations about our tax policy and about the size of our government--two very important things for us to be spending time on as we talk about the fiscal trajectory of the country.
They are two things that actually have very little to do with what is important for creating jobs in this country, because what has really caused the employment challenges that we face today, what has really caused the economic challenges that this country faces are two things: globalization and technology. They are two trends that are gripping our society and really started about 20 or 25 years ago, and these trends are accelerating.
Many people have been benefited by these trends. Americans with great education have been blessed by these trends. Americans with access to capital have benefited because of these trends. And hundreds of millions of citizens around the world have benefited from these trends because they move from formerly not being in a modern economy to being in a modern economy.
The problem is that the average American has been negatively affected by these trends. It happened too quickly. We weren't quite prepared for it. We didn't invest in our future the way we need to to prepare a broader number of Americans for a world that is fundamentally changed because of these trends.
To me, this is the central issue we face as a country if we want to reverse the employment trends. By the employment trends, I don't just mean the headline unemployment number, which is tragic. I mean what happens if you look behind those numbers, if you look at the standard of living of the average American, which has consistently gone down now for two decades.
In order to reverse these trends, in order to take these trends--globalization and technology--and bend them to benefit a broader number of Americans, we fundamentally have to do things here in our country that involve investment.
We have to improve our educational system and invest in education. There has never been a stronger correlation in the history of this country between having a good education and one's ability to get a job.
We need a national energy policy that can lead us to the advanced energy economy which will be cleaner and more efficient and more economical. If you look back over the history of modern economies, the two most important numbers for an economy to be successful is the cost of money and the cost of energy. We have an opportunity if we lead in advanced energy to keep the cost of energy down.
We need to reform our immigration system. Half of the Fortune 500 companies in this country were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. Immigrants fundamentally create jobs in this country.
And we need to invest in our infrastructure. We need to build a modern infrastructure for the future: transportation, communication, energy, educational facilities, all of the things that we need to do to be competitive. This will create jobs in the short term, and it will lay the groundwork for a more competitive America across the long term.
These are the things that we need to do to make our country more competitive so that we can create and attract and sustain jobs that have a high standard of living. That's the sacred trust we've been given as Members of Congress. And to do these things and to make the investments that are important in energy and education and infrastructure and in our immigration system, we need to be in a position fiscally to make investments, and that's a role of government that I strongly believe in.
To do that, we do have to change our fiscal trajectory, but we have to be honest about the drivers of our fiscal condition. We have to acknowledge that we do need comprehensive entitlement reform in this country so that our important entitlement programs don't crowd out all the other priorities we have in the Nation. And we also have to acknowledge that we need to reform our tax system, implement proposals like the Buffett rule that level the playing field and create more revenues. Our revenue as a percentage of our economy has never been lower.
If we do these two things, we create an opportunity for us to invest in our future. We create an opportunity to do the things that we need to do to make this country more competitive.
As someone who was the son of a union electrician, whose parents never went to college, who had the blessing of a good education and started two businesses from scratch that both became New York Stock Exchange companies and created thousands of jobs, I have an appreciation of what's important in terms of entrepreneurship in this country. These are the things that we need to do if we want to make a difference, and these are the things that I care about as we try to work against these important trends.
Mr. GARAMENDI. Thank you very much, Mr. Delaney. Well, you hit it right on the head: education, the technology issues that we have before us, the issue of globalization and how we deal with it here, and our energy policy. We are really blessed in the United States with energy that has suddenly come back to blossom, and that's natural gas. What an enormous asset for this country, and we need to really push that further along. And the immigration issue, all of these things are before us right now.
If we move forward aggressively with the kinds of things that you talked about, and we're spending time here on the floor, we can really move this country. And with the energy that businesses have and the experience that you know from your own experience in business, there is a pent-up demand. There's a lot of cash in the businesses of the Nation. We need the policies laid out there.
Perhaps you can take up the energy piece and elaborate a little more on how you see the use of natural gas as a bridge as you get to those clean energy issues that you talked about.
Mr. DELANEY. I think you made a very good point about the amount of cash in our private sector. There is more cash in U.S. corporations than there's ever been, and there's more cash in our banks than there's ever been.
I believe the private sector creates the jobs, but there is a clear and distinct role for government to level the playing field and make the investments that are needed for the private sector to thrive. The energy industry is a terrific example of that. If we had a national energy policy that pointed us in a common direction where we could say this is where we want our energy production and utilization to be in the future, it would benefit Americans so much in the short term because of the quality of their life in terms of making us more competitive.
If you look back over the history of this country, it takes us about 50 years to change energy sources. It took about 50 years to go from wood to coal; it took about 50 years to go from coal to oil and natural gas; and it will take about 50 years to truly have this advanced, clean, efficient energy economy that we know we should have as a country. We should have policies in place that encourage that. And natural gas can be a fabulous bridge to that future.
There has to be accountability. We need to ensure that it is done in an environmentally sensitive way. I believe there is a role for the Federal Government to do that, and we should be embracing it because it can clearly bridge us in a cleaner way and in a cost-effective and competitive way to the future we all imagine for clean and advanced energy.
It will take time to get there. It is a massive investment to transform our energy infrastructure, and we can do that, which, by the way, will create a lot of jobs while we do it, but we can get there. And natural gas can be a terrific bridge.
Mr. GARAMENDI. I really agree with all you said. And as we make that bridge to that clean energy future--you talked about those 50-year increments as we change from one source of energy to another. In that process, we, American taxpayers, seriously subsidized each and every one of those transitions. We now have to shift, it seems to me, shift some of those subsidies from the old energy sources, specifically oil, and shift that into long-term subsidies, encouragement to those clean energy issues. If we do that, I think we'll see that kind of growth that you're talking about.
Mr. DELANEY. I absolutely agree with you.
Mr. GARAMENDI. Mr. Delaney, I know you have to leave, but thank you so very much for joining us.
Mr. DELANEY. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
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