A Crisis Wasted: A Book Discussion with the Honorable Reed Hundt
- Reed Hundt, Former Chairman, Federal Communications Commission and Chairman and CEO, Making Every Vote Count
- Karen Kornbluh, Director and Senior Fellow, Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
As Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission during the early days of what was then called the “Information Superhighway,” Reed Hundt oversaw key regulatory decisions resulting in the widespread deployment of mobile phones, broadband, and the Internet, creating a model for countries around the world. The productivity this unleashed helped explain the boom of the late 1990s in which incomes rose across the board. A member of President Barack Obama’s transition (as he had been for President Bill Clinton’s transition), Hundt championed an agenda to unleash a second enabling technology – green energy.
A Crisis Wasted describes decisions made in response to the financial crisis in the final days of the George W. Bush Administration and the early days of the Obama Administration that, Hundt argues, determined the fate of Obama’s presidency before he took office, and precluded investments of the magnitude required to create a new enabling technology. These momentous decisions led to the election eight years later of a President not only determined to dismantle Obama’s policy achievements but opposed to renewable energy technology and a champion of fossil fuel.
Based on dozens of interviews with the key decisionmakers, as well as the author’s personal observations, this book provides unique commentary on those defining decisions of winter 2008–2009. A decade later, understanding both the ramifications of the Great Recession and the steps government took – and didn’t take – in addressing the crisis is essential to the debates that will drive the election of 2020 and the decisions that policymakers will make in the coming years. This book aims to provide the guidance of history.
This book talk is the first in a series run by the Digital Innovation & Democracy Initiative. The initiative leverages GMF’s extensive networks to develop strategies that advance innovation and strengthen democratic values.