By Gary Shapiro
November 27, 2018 at 5:00 am ET
Preparing for January, President Donald Trump and House Democratic leaders confront a dilemma. Do they battle, get nothing done and see which side Americans choose at the polls in two years? Or do they find areas of agreement and try to move the nation forward and send bills to the Senate?
I am hopeful both will conclude that they can put the nation’s interests first. Trump, though unconventional, wants to get things done. Democrats know they need to build a resume of accomplishments. As a result, we have an opportunity for a strong, confident president and a newly elected majority of the “people’s House” to work together for our national success.
Here are five ways in which Trump can work with House Democrats to find areas of agreement. If they do, many House Republicans may add to a majority so the Senate will act on their ideas.
1) Lower Health Care Costs.
Medicare, Medicaid and insurance costs are growing faster than inflation, yet there is low-hanging fruit allowing for huge savings. On average, Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the developed world. Drug costs will be lowered if either of the Obama/Trump proposals to change physician incentives is adopted. And some opiate addiction can be avoided if physicians suggest pain easing technology, rather than addictive painkillers.
Further, encouraging remote monitoring, considering outpatient treatments such as focused ultrasound and requiring the federal government to consider cost, value and patient inconvenience in approving and reimbursing treatments would all help to lower health care costs. And allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices would free up billions of dollars for investment in other critical programs such as infrastructure and education.
2) Pass targeted privacy laws.
We are all concerned about privacy. But we must balance our natural desire to own and control our personal data with common sense, safety and health concerns. For example, if a car in front of you crashes in the fog and that information can be sent to your car, is that a privacy violation? In a natural disaster, shouldn’t first responders have access to tools that can scan for medical data such as vital signs so that they can find survivors? Research from the Consumer Technology Association found that 46 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to share personal information in exchange for access to support services like these.
The absence of a federal baseline privacy law has prompted a patchwork of state-level legislation, making it difficult for companies to comply. A bipartisan Congress can adopt federal privacy legislation that guarantees uniform national standards for consumer privacy and gives flexibility to companies to spur innovation.
3) Revamp our immigration policy.
There are one million more unfilled jobs in the U.S. than there are unemployed Americans. According to CTA research, three-quarters of business leaders say it is difficult to find candidates with the right skills and abilities. When there’s a shortage of qualified workers, we can use skilled immigrants to stay competitive with other global workforces.
Skilled, entrepreneurial and hardworking immigrants are vital to our economy, growth and competitiveness. So is controlling our borders. Most “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who have grown up in the U.S., are hardworking Americans who speak English and contribute to our nation. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients earn almost $20 billion in income annually, pay more than $3 billion in local, state and federal taxes and contribute almost $2.4 billion to entitlement programs. Merit-based immigrants have started many of today’s “unicorns,” startup companies now valued at $1 billion, which employ an estimated 1.7 million workers.
With a new balance of power, there is a deal to be made: Democrats should accept skilled immigration and a wall if the president accepts DACA. The last time Congress changed the basic structure of our immigration system was 1990 – long before the internet revolutionized the way we innovate, connect and hire. We need a flexible, nimble system that can evolve along with the changing needs of the job market.
4) Invest in our children and our infrastructure.
Every politician should be thinking of our generational obligation to give our children better lives. Yet, we have neglected and underinvested in infrastructure, our public roads and parks.
We have not trained our young people in the technical skills many employers are now looking for, like broadband installation and development. Trump knows how to build. Certainly, our politicians can agree to invest in our infrastructure, our teachers, and programs and skills training we need to be competitive. Yes, it will cost money. But if we don’t make these investments, our kids will have neither the skills nor the infrastructure – including broadband – we need to stay a first-tier nation.
5) Agree on a strategy on China and trade.
Trump is right that China has denied essential freedoms and contributed significantly to global pollution, while the U.S. and Europe value clean air and clean water and believe in citizen choice in politicians, religion and the media.
We need to rethink our relationship with China, but high tariffs on Chinese products are taxes hurting American businesses and jacking up consumer products. They are also burdening the stock market and undoing Trump’s economic successes. Already, 62 global companies have reported in corporate earnings the collateral damage of tariffs, which has caused the stock market to fall to pre-2018 levels. U.S. companies have already paid over 1,000 percent more than last year to import products from China. Instead, we need to gather like-minded countries who also uphold our values and leverage these values as strengths to compete globally.
The United States leads the world in creating new tech products and services that improve our lives. Other countries envy our innovation leadership. Policies that lower health care costs, promote innovation and invest in our children’s futures are neither Republican nor Democrat. They should be, and simply are, American.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, and a New York Times best-selling author. His upcoming book, “Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation,” will be released Dec. 31 and is available now for pre-order. His views are his own.
Morning Consult welcomes op-ed submissions on policy, politics and business strategy in our coverage areas. Updated submission guidelines can be found here.