The FCC is wrapping up the most complicated spectrum auction in history. Broadcast stations voluntarily sold airwaves. In return, they'll get $10 billion from wireless companies, who are buying those frequencies for more than $19 billion to provide more mobile broadband. And the Treasury will collect about $7 billion for deficit reduction.

This auction was the product of a multi-pronged government effort. The FCC conceived the plan in 2010. The Republican House wrote the legislation and a bipartisan Congress passed it in 2012. The FCC passed the necessary rules and executed to plan. Buyers and sellers made their bids. Everyone succeeded.

Now it's time to apply the same approach to other national challenges.

Healthcare: To lower costs, improve quality, and fairly pay doctors and hospitals everyone must participate in a market-based system of buying insurance. This is, like the spectrum auction, a two-sided, complex, and intricate process. On one side are human beings who do not know what care they will need or when, and on the other side are insurers and providers. Only government is in the position to figure out how to make a market where everyone buys and insurers sell to everyone.

Energy: The sun, wind, and hydro sources of power are cheaper than carbon fuels and do not depend on foreign-controlled resources. But between the point of generating electricity and its consumption in homes, offices, and factories is a complex distribution network. This too is a two-sided network: generation on one side, consumption on the other. Only government can organize this technically complex network so that it delivers the cheapest possible electricity to everyone, while opening the door to massive infrastructure investment.

Transportation: Hundreds of different regional, state and local government units own and control more than 90% of roads, bridges and tunnels. Since they all connect to each other, no business or government can throw money at transportation infrastructure without knowing each other's larger plan. States and local governments should collectively decide when to charge user fees and privatize when necessary. In other words, a government plan should help drive the process.

The goal in these areas is to lower costs and to expand quality of service — therefore increasing the standard of living for all Americans. This is what the FCC just did for wireless service, one of the most commonly used of all infrastructures in the economy today. The government has the potential to transform these other major building blocks of the economy.

Reed Hundt is CEO of the Coalition for Green Capital and former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Go deeper

The pandemic real estate market

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

It's not just emotional buying, real estate agents say: There are smart and strategic reasons that Americans of all ages, races and incomes are moving away from urban centers.

Why it matters: Bidding wars, frantic plays for a big suburban house with a pool, buying a property sight unseen — they're all part of Americans' calculus that our lives and lifestyles have been permanently changed by coronavirus and that we'll need more space (indoors and out) for the long term.

38 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus cases are falling, but don't get too comfortable

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Danielle Alberti, Sara Wise/Axios

America's coronavirus outbreak is slowing down after a summer of explosive growth.

By the numbers: The U.S. is averaging roughly 52,000 new cases per day — still a lot of cases, but about 10.5% fewer than it was averaging last week.

39 mins ago - Health

We're doing a lot less coronavirus testing

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. is cutting back on coronavirus testing. Nationally, the number of tests performed each day is about 17% lower than it was at the end of July, and testing is also declining in hard-hit states.

Why it matters: This big reduction in testing has helped clear away delays that undermined the response to the pandemic. But doing fewer tests can also undermine the response to the pandemic.