Dems plan to jump-start America's technological competitiveness

House Democrats have proposed a multiyear wish list of technological investments to rejuvenate the country’s competitiveness.

Lawmakers, industry leaders and academics have long warned that the country is in danger of losing jobs and money to rapidly advancing countries. Nov. 15, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi officially announced the plan, calling it the Innovation Agenda.

Key among the initiatives is doubling the National Science Foundation’s budget, creating a skilled workforce, funding public/private partnerships and permanently extending the research and development tax credit, said Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The Democrats' plan would educate 100,000 new scientists, engineers and mathematicians in the next four years by giving scholarships to students who promise to pursue such occupations. In addition, Democrats want a special visa for international doctoral and postdoctoral scholars of math, science, technology and engineering to keep talented individuals in America. The plan also pushes tax-deductible college tuition for undergraduates studying in those fields.

In the next five years, Democrats plan to double NSF’s funding and promote public/private collaboration to ensure that research develops into commercial technologies.

Notably, Democrats want to refocus the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on long-term basic research rather than advanced weapon systems, to which it has recently devoted many of its resources. DARPA created the earliest version of the Internet and used to focus on computer science research.

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