It's almost like a stress test. You know how they stress-test the banks? Let's stress-test the area.
There's direct [impact and] there's indirect. Does Starbucks do better because we have defense contractors? The ripple effect is huge. … The report is more about why this is important; it's less about the solutions.
Who do you see as the stakeholders here?
I think the stakeholders are most importantly employees. I think employers are secondary. Companies can do well even when there's high unemployment. … Whatever percentage of the Maryland population is seeking a job at any period in time, this is actually about them. Because they're the ones who benefit if we have a better employment picture.
What do you think Maryland's chances are of developing a more robust private sector with fewer government ties?
I think they're very high. Because the flip side is we've got a lot of assets. It's a great place to live, we have a very well-educated population, we have terrific schools and we're kind of well-located from the perspective of where people want to live.
The question is, what set of policies allow us to get those assets in the mix in the best way to produce the most employment outcomes? There's a lot of ways to win here.
Do you see specific sectors Maryland could be pursuing, could be competitive in?
I think we're in some really good areas — information technology, biotech — that you want to make sure we're as competitive as possible in. You'd like to see … alternative energy. That's clearly going to be a big employer across, I think, the next 50 years.
Some critics of Maryland's business climate say we should aim to be more like Virginia, [which is] seen as more business-friendly. Does that make sense?
It's not unreasonable, but I don't think these things are always that simplistic. Maryland's different than Virginia. Maryland has certain advantages that Virginia doesn't have and certain disadvantages. … We should just worry about ourselves and not worry about comparisons.
Maryland is never going to be the low-cost place to live and work, and we shouldn't try to be because we have a lot of other stuff we bring to the table. And you get what you pay for. … I think we just want to do better with what we have.
You've noted that Blueprint Maryland isn't advocating for deficit reduction, just trying to prepare for it. How do you feel personally about deficit-reduction efforts?
I think it's the No. 1 issue facing the economy long-term. I mean, various estimates out there predict that unless we change things, by 2025, 100 percent of the federal budget will be toward entitlements and interest. Clearly, that's not going to happen. Clearly, we're going to make changes before then. … The reason the deficit being big is a problem is because it may affect our long-term interest rates in this country and it may affect our ability to invest in the things we need to invest in.