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These principles influenced Herbert Hoover, who before he was president was regarded as a great commerce secretary and provided financial support for the aviation industry. Later, President Ronald Reagan supported Sematech to help our semiconductor industry.
Of course, America's free-enterprise system is what enables our manufacturers to be the most innovative. No one is suggesting that the government pick winners or losers. Some bets on new companies, such as Solyndra, are bound to fail.
But such failures should not deter the government from investing in DARPA, a strategic agency at the Defense Department, or ARPA-E, a strategic agency at the Energy Department, which can propel innovation, new technologies and new industries.
We also must help keep manufacturers at home through tax incentives, attract immigrants and better prepare a skilled workforce. And we must continue the collaboration between government and business that helped make America an economic superpower.
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Ro Khanna, a deputy assistant secretary of commerce from 2009 to 2011, is the author of "Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing Is Still Key to America's Future." He has created an exploratory committee for a possible congressional candidacy in Northern California