In 1980, John Kemeny, Chairman of the President’s “Three-Mile Island Commission,” after studying that disaster, was forced to the conclusion that the fault lay more with obsolescence of U.S. institutions than with the reactor operators. As noted earlier in this document, Kemeny wrote:
“The present system does not work. It was designed for a much earlier and simpler age. The only way to save American democracy is to change the fundamental decision-making process at the Federal level, so it can come to grips with the enormous and complex issues that face the nation.”
Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. introduced before the Congress a bipartisan initiative, The National Policy and Technology Foundation Act of 1987, to rectify the fatal legislative deficiencies that Kemeny had identified. A number of Congressional hearings generated industry, labor, government, academic and professions’ support.
Unfortunately, momentum was lost with Congressman Brown’s unexpected death and the change in administrations. The promise of HR 2165 still burns brightly, but remains unfulfilled. The need for a modern National Policy and Technology Foundation Act is greater than ever.
Twenty-one years later, Harvard’s Professor Michael F. Porter, member of the Council on Competitiveness, was moved to write in “Business Week,” November 10, 2008:
“. . . the U.S. has no long-term economic strategy. . . no coherent set of policies to ensure competitiveness over the long haul . . . America’s political system almost guarantees an absence of strategic planning at the federal level.”
When the current banking, unemployment and health crises are finally contained, the nation will still face uncontrolled deficits, towering foreign debt, and a damaged uncompetitive industrial plant. These can be managed, but not with our present archaic legislative process.
The Kemeny and Porter observations still stand and remain unanswered. Both the public and Congress agree that the U.S. health delivery system is in dire need of improvement. Yet, months of partisan wrangling have compromised the resolution.
With the National Policy and Technology Foundation Act, a bipartisan Council solution, similar to the Social Security agreement of 1983, would have realized a better, more efficient process. The National Policy and Technology Foundation Act must be re-introduced.