The only president who has balanced the U.S. federal budget since 1960 expressed cautious optimism about economic recovery in California during his speech in Silicon Valley Thursday.
"California will come roaring back," former President Bill Clinton said. "It will come back sooner if we work together."
Clinton received a standing ovation when he appeared at the Outlook Conference organized by the Bay Area Council. Forum moderator George Marcus, chairman of Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, said he first met Clinton in Cupertino in 1990, and they have been good friends since.
Clinton said he's also good friends with Gov. Jerry Brown, who had earlier advocated his proposal of a tax increase as another speaker at the Outlook Conference. Clinton voiced his support for Brown's solutions to the California budget crisis.
Based on his own track record, Clinton said it takes approximating the spending level, approximating a revenue stream and a growth strategy to balance the budget. He said the growth strategy is especially important to ensure the increase of revenue.
Despite the currently slow economy, Clinton said he sees a lot of growth potential in California as well as the entire country.
"We have a younger workforce than Japan and Europe. We'll have a younger workforce than China in 20 years," Clinton said. "It's easier to start a business here. And we're still the center of (research and development) in the world."
To sustain a strong workforce, Clinton said the government should take the lid off H1B visas.
To revive the economy, Clinton suggested lowering the mortgages that are worth more than the homes to their current price points and letting the home owners pay back the differences after the market recovery. He also recommended lowering corporate taxes as an incentive to businesses.
For competiveness, Clinton said America should improve the broadband infrustracture to increase productivity, and retrofit all public buildings to save energy.
When Clinton was asked to predict the outcome of this year's presidential election, he said it's going to be a close race, but President Barack Obama will win by five to six percent of the vote.
Another speaker at the conference, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, was asked about the possibility of her becoming a candidate for vice president. She said she doesn't see herself cut out for compaigning.
In her speech, Rice portrayed K-12 education in America as a "national security problem." Then she provided three solutions: higher pay for good teaching; setting higher expectations for students; lengthening the school day.
Rice said the United States has the shortest school day among industrialized countires. There used to be a need to let students out early to help their families with farm work, she said, but that's no longer the case today.
Another conference speaker Jeff Weiner, chief executive officer of Linkedin, shares Rice's view on education and Clinton's view on H1B visas. Weiner brought up the two issues when naming ways of closing the gap between unemployment and required skills of jobs available.
Weiner added that America needs to invest more in a digital infrastructure, which informs job seekers of their dream jobs' skill requirements and helps employers find the most suitable job candidates. He said Linkedin is working on building such an infrastructure.