Science, Innovation & Jobs

American economic growth and its ability to produce new, high-wage jobs depends upon maintaining America's leadership in innovation - and the science and engineering discoveries that pave the way for innovation. The individual scientists, engineers, and inventors in universities and business research labs around the country drive the process of exploration and discovery. But they depend on a President in Washington who understands how to support them with competent federal research and fiscal policies that encourage rather than discourage investments in new ideas. Their work is hindered when ideologues instead of experts are put in control of technical issues.

A March, 2004 report by the American Electronics Association points out that: "Much of America's technological preeminence in the 1990s was attributable to R&D investments made by the Federal government in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Past technology advancements stimulated by Federal R&D include integrated circuits, the Internet, personal computers, jet aircraft, and supercomputers. While federally funded R&D has increased slightly, virtually all of that increase was in the life sciences. University-based R&D in the physical sciences MUST be increased."

Kerry Proposals:

John Kerry has outlined detailed and specific programs to advance US leadership in all areas of science and engineering essential to the future of America's economy. He has clear positions for strengthening support for basic science in the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and other agencies. He has made it clear that he will not allow ideologues distort the role of science in areas such as embryonic stem cell research. He emphasizes that he "will increase our funding to the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and other important agencies and initiatives that promote crucial research."

He also has a farsighted program to ensure that investors have the incentives they need to create new, well paid jobs in the US. And he has an ambitious plan to ensure that all Americans have the education and training resources they need to take advantage of growing opportunities. John Kerry proposes to:

  • Eliminate capital gains for long-term investments in small businesses. ($6B over 10 years)
  • Extend the Research & Experimentation tax credit.
  • Create a business environment in which the innovative and competitive efforts can flourish
  • Create high-tech, high-wage jobs
  • Invest in Research for the Industries of the Future
  • Provide substantial research increases for clean energy, medicine, advanced manufacturing, information technology, nanotechnology, and other priorities.
  • Provide tax credits and other measures to ensure that broadband access is universal and affordable. Read more

Since many innovations appear first in small businesses, John Kerry has designed a range of programs designed specifically to encourage greater small business innovation. Read more.

The Bush Record

The Bush administration seems to have only a single idea on the economy: cutting taxes for the wealthy. The Administration appears more interested in protecting the fortunes of favored firms than planning for the jobs and industries of the future. Over 2.7 million jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector alone since the Bush administration took office, with signs that things could get even worse with four more years of the same programs in place.

Slashing Science and Technology Funding. The Bush administration plans to cut overall national spending in research in nearly every non-defense agency. In DoD major cuts are planned in basic research and development at the expense of advanced demonstration projects such as missile defense. The administration's 2005 proposal contains a cut in science and technology funding by 1.6%, the first overall cut since the National Academy of Science began tracking aggregate science and technology budgets. Over the next five years the administration plans to cut research in the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, NASA, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, and USDA. All of these agencies underwrite significant amounts of research in university and government labs. Under current plans, the NSF would lose $85 million in FY2006, DOE's Office of Science $81 million, and NIH a whopping $600 million.1 Science budgets would also suffer at the Department of Agriculture (down 8.3% over two years), EPA (down 11.6%), NOAA (down 6.2%), NIST (down 13.8%) and the Department of the Interior (down 8.4%).

Slashing Funding for Innovation. The Bush Administration plans to slash or eliminate programs that have a strong record of driving innovation.

The two single best government programs that help U.S. manufacturers exploit cutting edge manufacturing technology - NIST's Advanced Technology Program and Manufacturing Extension Partnership - sit on the budget chopping block. The Advanced Technology Program partners government and Fortune 500 firms to bridge the gap between the research lab and marketplace. Despite achieving nearly 1,000 commercial successes, the Advanced Technology Program stands to be eliminated. The Manufacturing Extension Program links small and medium-sized manufactures with a nationwide network of not-for-profit innovation centers. Under the Bush budget it will be severely curtailed, to the detriment of the 149,000 firms it has thus far serviced. In addition, technology transfer programs at NASA and DOE are to be cut, and no new ideas or initiatives exist for moving Federal technologies into the private sector.

1. AAAS Analysis of Outyear Projection for R&D in the FY 2005 Budget, May 28, 2004. http://www.aaas.org/ssp/rd/proj05u.htm
The Science Vote 2004
The Bush Record
Kerry and Bush on the Issues
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