A Way Forward for the 21st Century GOP

Bob Patterson offers some thought-provoking ways forward for Pennsylvania's governing GOP in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

From building the "Main Line of Public Works" in the 19th century to the construction of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the 20th, Pennsylvania has been an infrastructure pacesetter. Just as the Depression-era toll highway paved the way for the interstate system, a comprehensive 21st-century initiative could transform the state's neglected network of highways, bridges, and mass-transit systems, and set an example for neighboring states.

By incorporating "smart" technology, an updated and expanded infrastructure would relieve highway congestion statewide, while enhancing public safety. The plan could also include projects to protect the Commonwealth and its electrical-power grid from storms like Hurricane Sandy, as well as expand access to broadband.

Yet infrastructure isn't enough. Pivoting off another Pennsylvania first - the development of the polio vaccine by Jonas Salk in 1955 - Corbett should collaborate with U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), who has called for an Apollo-style program to fight disease. The goal: Establish the Philadelphia area as a medical-research enterprise zone dedicated to finding cures for debilitating conditions including cell disorders or cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, autism, and all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's. A focus on cures rather than care would multiply the kind of breakthroughs achieved at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia last month when researchers used the virus that causes AIDS to cure a 6-year-old of leukemia.