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R&D... the day after

So there are a number of second day stories about the Bush administration's SOTU R&D plan, the American Competitiveness Initiative.

Here is how the WSJ.com reported it in their morning e-mail newsletter:

The Government's Role in R&D

By calling for the government to promote the competitiveness of American business in his State of the Union speech, President Bush was embracing a popular and unassailable goal, The Wall Street Journal says. But some precedents for such efforts are discouraging, the politics can be treacherous and the technology often unpredictable and sometimes disappointing, the Journal notes. Mr. Bush said he wants to reduce appropriated spending outside of defense and homeland security but will seek to increase spending for scientific research and development and for math and science education. He proposes an increase of about $910 million, or about 9.3 percent, for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy's Office of Science and the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology, a step toward doubling their budgets over 10 years. The president's initiative, and its prominent mention in the speech, drew quick applause from the business community, especially backers of the R&D tax credit. But the effort is unlikely to assuage executives' continuing concerns about whether the government is doing enough to secure the country's economic future, the Journal says.

Executives involved in Mr. Bush's proposal to accelerate spending on basic scientific research tell the New York Times it came after technology-industry executives made the case for such a move in a series of meetings with White House officials. Computer scientists have expressed alarm that federal support for basic research is being eroded by shifts toward applied research and shorter-term financing. But in his speech, Mr. Bush pointed to work in supercomputing, nanotechnology and alternative energy sources -- subjects that were favorites in the Clinton administration but had not been priorities for the current White House. What was different this year, a number of Capitol Hill lobbyists and Silicon Valley executives tell the Times, was support on the issue by Republican corporate executives like Craig R. Barrett, the chairman of Intel, and John Chambers, the chief executive of Cisco Systems.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has also been arguing that the U.S. is losing its scientific edge and needs billions of extra dollars to rekindle innovation, Nature reports. After years of growth in areas such as biomedical research, funding at U.S. science agencies is now mostly flat or decreasing, and critics charge that the nation's competitiveness will soon suffer. The senators' solution consists of three new bills that would dramatically increase the number of science teachers nationwide, boost funding for research, and increase tax breaks for industrial research and development. Mr. Bush's proposal to increase the ranks of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate teachers in math and science by 70,000 over four years would nearly triple the number of such teachers, the Times notes. But it doesn't envision hiring new teachers. Rather, it proposes to retrain the math and science teachers on hand.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Feb 02, 2006 at 12:15 PM


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