Evidence Based Policy and an Obama Administration

That I’m a fan of Barack Obama is not a surprise to anyone who knows me. One of the things that appeals to me most about him is that he seems to be evidence based rather than ideology based. He is clearly very smart and secure enough in that intelligence that he can surround himself with other very smart people and actually listen to them. The thoughtful, nuanced positions he comes up with as a result may not play as well in a debate as pithy ideology, but they leave me with much more confidence that they are closer to “right” policy wise.

The outcome of the election is now looking likely enough that it’s not unreasonable to think about how the world might change under an Obama administration. NY Magazine just ran a lengthy, fascinating article on Obama’s transition planning process. Leading the process is John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Clinton and the guy who expected to be doing transition planning for Hillary Clinton. That Obama would tap a Clinton ally for the job (and that Podesta would take it) is refreshing compared to the political score-settling we have gotten used to over the last 8 years.

The article goes on at some length as to what the staffing and policy priorities of a hypothetical Obama administration might be and towards the end contains the following rather interesting quote:

Obama now informs Time’s Joe Klein that endeavoring to spark “a new energy economy [is] going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office.”

Wondering what that may look like, I did a little Googling and came across the Center for American Progress, a think-tank helmed by the very same John Podesta. Front and center on the site is a link to “Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy”. There, Podesta outlines a $100B stimulus package that would invest in the following six things:

  • Retrofitting buildings to improve energy efficiency
  • Expanding mass transit and freight rail
  • Constructing “smart” electrical grid transmission systems
  • Wind power
  • Solar power
  • Next-generation biofuels

As a second year business-school student with strong entrepreneurial leanings and about to graduate into a rather rough job and capital market, understanding ahead of time where $100B in new spending is about to occur is welcome information indeed. More thoughts on the opportunities this presents shortly.