Democrat Chris Murphy, Connecticut’s junior senator and the youngest member of the U.S. Senate, highlighted his four keys to returning America to its former — and future — greatness in a recent talk at Y’s Men of Westport-Weston, then opened the floor to questions from this organization of retired men.
Mr. Murphy began by telling his audience that his former U.S. House district included Newtown, that what happened there was “ten minutes of mental illness masquerading as evil.” He received a call immediately following the massacre, went directly to Newtown and spent the day at the firehouse. Since then he has been “engulfed by thousands of acts of humanity” as the community came together.
Mr. Murphy’s prepared remarks addressed his four must dos to return to prosperity: the need to “get serious about our national indebtedness;” “invest in infrastructure, education and science;” create jobs and markets for renewable energy;” and “take advantage of our flexible work force.”
He stressed the importance of getting to a balanced budget. Today our government spends 24 percent of GDP, but takes in only 16 percent. Balance, Mr. Murphy said, means bringing both to 20 percent.
He said we must “tell the world and the capital markets we will get our house in order,” and that we have the ability to get there within six months.
In response to a question about real spending cuts rather than reducing the rate of growth, Mr. Murphy called Medicare spending, currently at four percent annually, “the elephant in the room.” Cutting it to two and one-half percent will keep it solvent well out into the future he believes. He added that “sequestration is a real cut.”
Asked whether the issue is really one of too few jobs, that government pump priming as Keynes prescribed it, to expand economic activity — put people to work, put money in their pockets so they spend, and, ultimately grow GDP — Mr. Murphy responded that “even Keynesians say you can overspend.”
“Yet we underspend on infrastructure, three percent of GDP, one-half of what Europe spends and one-quarter that of China. He said “we didn’t grow by small government.” Congress must “do the big deal” to upgrade the nation’s roads and bridges and strengthen education and science facilities and programs.
Third, the nation must invest in “future economies,” he said. He cited Germany, saying it has a renewable energy policy, the U.S. does not. This country needs to “develop government policies to create jobs and market places for solar panels, wind turbines” and similar technologies.
Mr. Murphy also supports cap and trade legislation to mitigate global warming, revitalize industry and provide good jobs in growth markets.
Lastly, he defined a flexible workforce as pro-immigration, and added that we have the “most flexible immigration policy in the world.” This, he said will transform the country.
The nation’s population today averages 43 years of age, four years older than China’s. Over the next 18 years immigration will enable the U.S. to reduce this to 39, while China’s will grow to 43, Europe to the 40s and Japan into the 50s, he noted.
All of this matters to Connecticut because the state has an old population and a large immigrant population, it is heavily invested in technology, and it has high energy costs.
Looking forward, Mr. Murphy said “greatness lies ahead,” but achieving it will require Democratic and Republican support.” At the same time, he defined himself as an “optimist to the core,” particularly that “Washington will get its head around the issues,” and “make the country an economic powerhouse once again.”