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Archive for April, 2010

House Panel Puts in Motion Reauthorization of COMPETES Act

The House Science Committee took an all-too-unheralded step toward bolstering U.S. competitiveness in the years ahead with its bipartisan approval April 28 of a five-year reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act.  That is welcome news.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has been a leading advocate for the COMPETES Act since it was enacted in 2007 and has helped shape the legislation.  The COMPETES Act broke new ground in addressing America’s growing national innovation deficit and aimed to marshal the country’s abundant talent and resources more efficiently toward meeting rising global challenges.  The $82 billion measure that came out of the Science Committee on a 29-8 vote is a solid measure that would be made even stronger with recommendations ITIF put forward in a report in March, “Eight Ideas for Improving the America COMPETES Act,” and more robust funding in the energy area.

It is great that lawmakers are giving thoughtful consideration to the importance of innovation at this time.  As ITIF has documented the United States is slipping when it comes to innovation.  The House Science Committee bill recognizes that investing in key areas such as a nanotechnology,

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For Once and for All, Let’s Agree the Government Can and Should Pick Winners

Notwithstanding the Tea Party fear mongering, there is a lot of trepidation these days about America drifting toward socialism and the growth of government. (Put aside the fact that it is not true. Aside from health care, the huge government interventions over the last 18 months were isolated emergency actions that most economists credit with keeping us out of an epic Depression. What’s more, most Americans actually got a tax cut this year.)

It’s not just conservatives who worry about government being too active, many moderates and liberals who abide by the so-called Washington Consensus hold as an article of faith that while it’s okay for the government to do things like fund basic research and improve education, by all means it should not “pick winners.” On this matter (as on many), the Washington Consensus is wrong.

Let’s be clear about what “picking winners” means. It means government identifying industries and technologies where the country needs to be competitive globally, (i.e. health IT, nanotechnology, green energy, biotech, robotics, broadband) and then developing and implementing policies to work with the private sector to ensure that we grow and retain

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