What will it take to get the economy—and the housing industry—back on track? Employment growth. That was the message from Joe Scarborough, former Congressman and current host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, during the opening keynote of the 2009 Multifamily Executive Conference in Las Vegas this week. 

“The President should have three priorities—jobs, jobs, jobs,” Scarborough said, during a luncheon to more than 600 executives in the multifamily real estate industry. “We don’t need to be distracted by cap-and-trade, by health care. We need employment growth.”

Scarborough pointed to innovation in technology as a potential source of new job creation. “No country in the world is better positioned to lead the growth of the 21st century than this one,” he said. “But where are the ideas? Where are the leaders who will step forward and tell us how to get up and get out of this?”

For this to happen, however, Democrats and Republicans should stop playing along party lines. Scarborough pointed to President Reagan’s leadership skills, particularly his ability to ignore the noise and bickering and focus on action. “That spirit needs to be reinstated in Washington.”

Ultimately, America can succeed if this kind of bipartisanship is achieved. “I’m rooting for Obama because, if the President fails, then America fails.”

Scarborough served as a Congressman (R-Fla.) from 1994 to 2001. In addition to Morning Joe, he hosts The Joe Scarborough Show on ABC radio and is the author of two books—The Last Best Hope (Crown Forum, 2009) and Rome Wasn’t Burnt in a Day (HarperCollins, 2004).