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Such movements would certainly meet resistance from the lobbies. Achieving the policy change would require decisive legislation and stringent compliance requirements, as well as phased implementation so that U.S. manufacturers can absorb the expense, build more capacity, and hire more workers at good wages – all while avoiding inflation-inducing bottlenecks or prolonged shortages.

Despite generally high comparable labor costs here in America, a modern and expanded manufacturing base could make our products more competitive both at home and abroad. There are many higher wage labor markets in Europe and Asia that produce the goods desired around the world.

There is another, more punitive, way of trying to restore American competitiveness. During the last administration America attempted to use the brutal instrument of protectionism – tariffs and related policies – in the pursuit of restoration, but without significant success.

In May 1932, another time when the economy was shaken, the American people divided and democracy threatened, Franklin Roosevelt appealed. “The country needs and, unless I am mistaken, the country demands bold and persistent experimentation. It makes sense to take one method and try it: if it fails, frankly admit it and try another, ”he said. “The millions of people in need will not remain silent forever as long as the things to meet their needs are at hand.”

Today, a long-term program to rebuild, expand and maintain public infrastructure, in the broadest sense of the term, is within reach. This could fuel the competitiveness of the United States and improve household living standards for decades to come.

And the side of Wall Street that really matters is the one that is looking forward to it.

Mr. Alpert is a senior researcher in macroeconomics and finance and an assistant professor at Cornell Law School. He is the founding managing partner of Westwood Capital and the author of “The Age of overproduction: overcoming the world’s greatest challenge. “

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