But Clinton envisions government's role extending beyond these investments, to the crafting of a "national economic strategy." Exactly what such a strategy would specifically entail isn't clear, but it is apparent that Clinton envisions a much more intimate relationship between government and business than now prevails.
Earlier this week, for example, he told the shipyard workers that government should move aggressively to steer defense contractors toward peacetime pursuits, such as construction of high-speed rail.
To get business where he wants it to go--and balance his promises of cooperation with populist notes of confrontation--Clinton has also brandished some sticks. He has called for the elimination of tax incentives for companies that move jobs overseas, and tougher tax treatment of lavish corporate salaries. He has suggested that any industry granted protection from foreign imports--such as the auto manufacturers--be required to reform their operations and increase investments in productivity.
Almost all of this is anathema to the free-market economists in the Bush Administration. Bush has also talked about government's ability to act as a "catalyst" for economic change--largely by reforming education and investing in infrastructure.