Federal

The Obama Administration should transform Fannie Mae into an industrial bank.

Former Intel CEO Andy Grove notably has called for a “scaling bank” to help scale innovations to production in the United States. To do this, the Obama administration should call for repurposing Fannie Mae into an industrial financing organization. The very existence of Fannie Mae reflects the fact that America has put more emphasis on consumption (housing) than on production (manufacturing). The new Fannie Mae (perhaps called the Federal National Industrial Mortgage Association) would buy and resell loans made to traded sector firms from banks and other lenders.

The FCC should carefully examine “network neutrality” complaints.

No formal complaints of the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet (“network neutrality”) rules have been lodged, although a number of firms complain about unfair conduct. In the event that an actual Open Internet complaint is made to the FCC, it should be carefully examined by an expert panel such as the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group before the FCC takes action.

Congress should Reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to ensure that citizens have a right to privacy for their electronic data whether it is stored at home on a device or remotely in the cloud.

ECPA was enacted in 1986 and has not kept pace with the advancement of technology. For example, there are different levels of protection afforded to the privacy of an individual’s data based on where the data is stored and how long the data has been stored. Where possible, the privacy of an individual’s communication should be the same regardless of the type of technology that is used to facilitate this communication.

Congress should legislate the collaboration between the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy on energy innovation.

DOD and DOE signed a memorandum of understanding in the summer of 2010 that laid the groundwork for cooperation on the development of an array of clean energy technologies, including advanced batteries. Firming up this collaboration would be a simple way to ensure both departments’ efforts are productive and aligned. So Congress should officially legislate the collaboration between DOD and DOE so additional funds could be appropriated for their efforts.

The Department of Energy should create a “BatteryShot” Initiative modeled after the successful SunShot program to align battery innovation programs.

The Secretary of Energy should create a BatteryShot Initiative that coordinates government battery RD&D efforts and establishes clear metrics for success, such as ARPA-E’s goal of producing a battery with a total system cost of less than $250/kWh and a range of at least 300 miles per charge. The new Initiative should be even more ambitious and set more aggressive goals to make EVs more competitive than gasoline cars.

Congress should increase funds for the United States Trade Representative to step up enforcement of clean energy trade issues.

To facilitate increased funding, Congress should create a new office of Globalization Strategies within USTR. Within this new office a special unit to address green mercantilist trade practices should be formed so that the U.S. can bring cases whenever its clean energy interests are being hurt through trade rule violations.

Congress should amend the Internal Revenue Code such that statistical agencies such as the BEA and BLS gain access to the Census Bureau’s Business Register for more accurate reporting.

U.S. statistical agencies are barred by law from sharing important microdata with one another, and this leads to statistics on the U.S. economy that are badly inaccurate. These accuracy problems affect everything from the BEA’s national and state GDP statistics, to the BLS’s and the Census Bureau’s (separate) employment, payroll and establishment statistics, to statistics on the productivity growth and trade balances in strategic sectors such as manufacturing. And because these statistics are used by the federal government to make fiscal and monetary policy decisions, this data sharing problem leads to misdiagnosis of economic problems and ineffective policies. Moreover, the lack of data sharing leads to work redundancy (many agencies procuring their own data to produce similar statistics), increasing budget costs while also increasing the reporting burden on private businesses. Congress should amend the Internal Revenue Code such that statistical agencies such as the BEA and BLS gain access to the Census Bureau’s Business Register (which is derived from IRS data).

The WTO should prosecute a proactive trade policy that fights foreign mercantilist actions, including currency manipulation, closed markets, high tariffs, and forced offsets for market access.

When a country like China is committed to winning in key innovation-based industry and is willing and able to engage in a wide array of mercantilist practices, some of which violate various global trading agreements, no matter how good the innovation policies of places are, they will not lead to innovation activity. Only if the federal government takes aggressive and sustained action to combat innovation mercantilism will sub-national places stand a fighting chance. Helping places win the race for global innovation advantage will require action directed abroad to dramatically reduce unfair and protectionist foreign trade practices.

Congress should simplify the corporate tax code while expanding provisions that incentivize investments in R&D, workforce training, and capital equipment and machinery.

Congress should simplify the corporate tax code while expanding provisions that incentivize investments in R&D, workforce training, and capital equipment and machinery. In particular, Congress should transform the Alternative Simplified Credit for R&D into an American Investment Tax Credit that allows expenditures in excess of 50 percent of base calculation on R&D, workforce training, and capital expenditures to qualify for a tax credit of 20 percent. However, Congress should make companies’ ability to receive the full 20 percent credit contingent on some portion of resulting production occurring in the United States. In addition, Congress should expand the collaborative R&D tax credit to cover more sectors beyond energy.

The FCC should expand the scope of its broadband performance study to wireless networks.

The current study, "Measuring Broadband America," is wireline only, but fixed wireless broadband and mobile broadband should also be measured.