- - Sunday, November 29, 2020

Voters have chosen the moderate Joe Biden who won the Democratic primaries, but by sending more Republicans to Congress and statehouses, they rejected the radical Joe Biden who embraced punitive taxes, racial and gender quotas and other socialist measures in the general election.

The majority may be weary of President Trump’s disdain for science but only gave the president-elect a mandate to work with moderate Republicans — a sacrilege to leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

The first order of business should be to enlist Republican leaders in selling reluctant Americans the necessity of vaccines. I’d like to see a White House photo-op with Messrs. Biden and Mitch McConnell taking their shots. And together encourage Americans to avoid crowded spaces, accept vigorous contact tracing and quarantining as necessary.

After a remarkable third quarter, the economic rebound is flailing, many of the unemployed are in places like New York, where enough jobs will simply not be available for many years or not re-employable at all. Many have skills and experience honed to a specific job like petroleum engineer that will not return.

Mr. Biden must broker a stimulus package with Republican leaders McConnell and McCarthy that provides at least $1 trillion to replace lost state revenues, cover COVID-19 costs, extend and supplement unemployment benefits, and offer grants to businesses for relocating and retraining workers.



Beyond that Americans have made clear they are sympathetic to the plight of immigrants but are not interested in open borders. They are sympathetic to the goals of Black Lives Matters but not replacing police with social workers and racial quotas. Mr. Biden should task Vice President-elect Kamala Harris with hammering out compromise legislation with moderate Republicans on immigration and police reform and demonstrating she has the skills to govern — not just to prosecute.

He can’t succeed by nominating radicals at odds with the thoughtful reforms the nation sorely needs at the Departments of Labor, Justice and elsewhere. America’s children deserve better than the head of the AFT or NEA as Secretary of Education.

Teachers’ unions that oppose keeping schools open when European nations have demonstrated that those can operate safely in the heat of the pandemic show as much respect for science as Mr. Biden railed Mr. Trump for abusing.

Beyond those, it gets tougher.

In so many ways, the easiest path to winning a national election is to pander to nostalgia for a lost industrial age and union jobs — complain China is stealing and robots are killing good jobs. The hard fact is, as we crack down on China, manufacturers are mostly moving elsewhere in Asia and Mexico.

American voters will support green industries. That’s why businesses everywhere court customers by boasting plans to reduce carbon footprints, and America’s largest electric utilities are aiming to become totally carbon free. All despite Mr. Trump’s climate change denial.

The Asians and Europeans are way ahead on electric cars, crafting national strategies to build out the next generation of portable energy — hydrogen — and robotics. But don’t believe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s narrative that subsidizing those industries can resurrect unions to their former glory.

EVs are simpler than gas-powered automobiles and require fewer workers to make and maintain. Solar and wind power are becoming competitive over the lifetime of equipment. Capacity may be expensive to install, but it needs a lot fewer workers to keep going — gas turbines require constant drilling, fracking and the laying of steel pipe to keep fuel flowing.

While we have been fighting among ourselves about the face of the future, China and others have been embracing it. Despite a cheap labor advantage, it has 50% more robots per dollar of factory output, and the Koreans, Japanese and even the Italians are ahead, too. Chinese drivers can choose among 138 EVs, the Europeans 68 but the Americans only 17.

Mr. Biden needs to give America an industrial policy because as in war, the Chinese, Japanese and Europeans have national strategies to supplement their private sectors.

China’s R&D efforts are growing faster than ours. Federal support for R&D has been falling for years, while whoever is president complains about Beijng’s subsidies for companies like Huawei.

An American industrial policy must be a competitiveness policy, and not impose rigid racial and gender goals. If it does, American businesses simply won’t find enough engineers and will fail.

It seems American university presidents are better at indoctrinating undergraduates with critical race theory and purging conservative faculty than enrolling minorities and women in STEM programs.

• Peter Morici, @pmorici1, is an economist and emeritus business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist.

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