07/01/2011 12:31 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2011

Clinton Global Initiative America: Problem-Solvers Not Provocateurs

There's plenty of money eager to find ways of investing in America's resurgence. However, we suffer from a bad case of provocateurship -- we have too many Attention Entrepreneurs who judge an argument's value by whether Fox News, MSNBC, or others looking for waste/fraud/abuse in government or the commercial world pick up the story. Washington is clogged up with bills that recast public-private-partnerships as privatization or else seek to take the 'public' out of the partnership. As Americans sit in unemployment lines or give up on work altogether, these Attention Entrepreneurs revel in their fifteen seconds of fame. They are crowding out our need to focus on real public issues of national importance.

Over the last two days, a group of businesses, non-profits, and public officials came together in Chicago at the Clinton Global Initiative to find ways putting Americans back to work in a way that contributes to everyone's bottom line.

It was refreshing to have focused public-private problem-solving discussions. To the benefit of all, the convening sponsor, the J. B. & M. K. Pritzker Family Foundation, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel demonstrated the value of holding this event in the the capital of the Heartland not in the Beltway. Everyone wanted to commit to action. President Clinton, Berkeley Professor Laura Tyson, Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin, and many others kept us focused on the business case for our reinvestment, for how leveraging the ingenuity of underemployed and out-of-work Americans can drive us out of our economic malaise. Many executives agreed and committed to financing jobs that would create value, grow our economic pie.

How lucky we would be if successfully working together to solve problems was how we judged success. Maybe we can start by finding ways of talking about good public-private-partnerships financed in partnership with a National Infrastructure Bank. A bipartisan bill is on the table sponsored by Senators Kerry, Hutchison, Graham, and Warner. The President has made the strongest case of anyone for using a National Infrastructure Bank to create a platform of competitiveness which will leverage American ingenuity. Now it's time to see problems as challenges not excuses to put a stick in the spokes of job-producing proposals.