Democratic presidential candidate Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) yesterday called for the creation of an "American Reindustrialization Corporation," funded by government and private sources, to stimulate investment that would help U.S. firms compete in international markets.
Campaigning in Newark, N.J., Kennedy told a group of lawyers that the proposed corporation would be example of a "new economic partnership" involving government, business, and labor that he would try to forge to revitalize the nation's economy.
Borrowing a concept and a phrase from the defunct presidential campaign of California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown, Jr., Kennedy said, "our goal must be nothing less than the reindustrialization of America.
"We can plan coherently for the rapid modernization of the steel and auto industries . . . Above all else, we must reach agreement on the wisest possibilities of growth in the next decade -- on the industries which offer the best promise of new jobs, technologies, and markets at home and abroad."
Kennedy's comments came in an extended discussion of economic policy designed to explain the long-range plans. Kennedy as president would pursue to fight inflation to complement his short-term solution, imposition of mandatory controls on prices and wages.
Kennedy said yesterday that wage price controls had worked well during the Korean war era because President Truman had employed "a careful balance of fiscal, monetary, and price-wage restraint.
In a similar sense, he said, wage-price controls in the 1980's must be accompanied by "a redefinition of our economic system."
"Our task in the 1980s is to rebuild the American economy on the basis of cooperation," he said. "We need a Marshall Plan for America . . . a relationship among government, labor and industry that recognizes their common interest." He cited Germany and Japan as two nations that had achieved such a "social consensus" on economic issues.
Kennedy said these economic steps, including formation of the reindustrialization corporation, would be "the first priority" of a Kennedy administration. A campaign aide said the candidate contemplated $1 billion in federal "seed money" for the new corporation, which would thereafter rely on private bond and equity markets for funding.