Jobs and Economy:
Science and Technology is the present AND the future. It is time to usher in the 21st Century, and the best way to do so is to embrace the advancement of humanity in every way possible.
1. A REAL Infrastructure Project: First figure out where the top 20 cities in the nation are that export the greatest amount of goods to the rest of the nation, our nations top 20 producing cities. This is a national distribution thing, not an international shipping thing. Now, make every one of those cities a hub for a major MagLev Rail Station and connect all of those cities with each other by building an advanced MagLev High Speed Rail system.
To do this, LOAN...not give, but LOAN money to the private sector to facilitate the construction of the system in 20 years or less. Get it done fast. Those companies have to pay back the loan at a very mild interest rate. This is exactly what the government did for the construction of the intercontinental railroad, so let's employ it again. The government will take the money gained and ONLY use it to buy down the national debt, and the nation establishes a major high-tech, low pollution, reliable and advanced transportation system that travels nearly as fast as an airplane (~300mph), but at a far less operational cost. It's also quiet, requires no gas or oil, and can run constantly 24/7/365.
Nuclear power facilities would be appropriately built to cover the energy requirements of the system so as not to strain the existing grid. The design, construction and operation of this system would employ vast numbers of people immediately in a variety of well paying jobs and help drastically reduce domestic shipping costs. It's also a long term project, stimulating employment over a long period of time.
2. NASA and NewSpace: Have NASA, its research partners and its international partners focus on building the Moon Base (and invite CHINA and INDIA to help!), establishing the Lunar living facilities, water reclamation and distribution system, transportation system and a fuel manufacturing, storing and distribution system. Rely heavily on robotic construction practices as much as possible before sending humans to tidy up the place.
As its envisioned now, have NewSpace assume LEO operations to and from the ISS and any other orbiting platform (Bigelow Hotel, etc) in a LEO orbit, but also have them work on building all the spacecraft to get to the Moon, but don't design them for just a Moon trip. Design them as if they were going to Mars.
This would be funded by 50/50 LOANS that the companies would pay back over time, much like how we'd establish the MagLev Transportation System. What I mean by 50/50 is that the government would match every dollar the private industry would raise, assuring the companies have a vested interest is not blowing government money, because they'd be out a lot as well. The companies can use those rockets for whatever they want, but they must give free rides to the government to bring all the Lunar Infrastructure items to the Moon, and provide a certain number of initial NASA Astronaut trips. After that, NASA maintains an operational, science and research division on the base while NewSpace is the taxi paid to get them there, as well as other paying customers who wish to go, NOT just NASA.
Additionally, reform ITAR so that private space companies can work with international partners in the same way the governments work with each other. The peaceful commercialization, exploration and development of space is NOT a national defense issue. Missiles, bombs and guns belong on ITAR, not peaceful space transportation systems. Also ensure that there are reasonable regulations in place that govern the commercial space industry responsibly, but that aren't overtly restrictive.
These two things will not only upgrade America to the 21st Century in a hurry, but employ tens of thousands of people in the process, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, pushing our youth to embrace those fields. As the nation goes, so go our youth.
Environment and Energy:
Stop cutting down trees to build houses! How stupid is that in today's technologically advanced world? You want to help the environment, start by replacing 19th Century methods with 21st Century ones. Part of the Lunar Base program is to develop advanced construction techniques WITHOUT the use of wood, in faster amounts of time, and with less waste! This would be employed on Earth to drastically reduce construction costs, improve living conditions and help under developed nations to develop.
Also, as noted earlier, build Nuclear Power Plants to reduce our dependence on oil, domestic AND foreign oil, and put serious focus into all forms of renewable energy (solar, space based solar, wind, tidal, wave, geothermal, etc). Require that every major city be 25% (or more) powered by renewable energy by 2030. Use colleges, universities, private industry and part of the military budget to facilitate this endeavor. After all, everyone says energy is a national defense issue, so use national defense money to help get it done.
4 simple bills with absolutely NO additions, attachments, pork or ANYTHING added to them, at all. Short, simple and to the point legislation. I know, hard to fathom these days, but possible if the public is involved and eyeballing the process, especially if this is stated publicly right off the bat so that everyone knows what's expected.
1. Tort Reform Bill, fixing all the legal garbage that financially inflates the health care industry.
2. Insurance Portability Bill, allowing health insurance to be just like car insurance, where you can get and use your coverage in any state.
3. Pre-existing Condition Bill, preventing insurance companies for being bastards and denying people who need coverage, or drastically inflating their costs after they get sick. The purpose of insurance is to protect you when you get sick, not screw you after you've gotten sick.
4. Medical Record Digitization Bill, using the internet and proper military style security to completely digitize all medical records, saving a load of paper, and allowing any doctor anywhere to bring up your medical records from a database. Never again would you have to fill out any forms whatsoever when visiting any doctor, anywhere. They can bring you up in the system in seconds. And if the military can protect its digital infrastructure, then they can help create a protected health care records digital infrastructure.
There...done. Now watch the costs drop!
Well, there you go. This should stir up some conversation. :)