Back in August, the four primary candidates for President were asked a series of questions concerning science, engineering, technology, health & the environment (see 20 Questions for the Presidential Candidates). What I propose to do is look at the answers for each of the 20 questions. This, then, will be the first of 20 posts.
Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Jill Stein have answered the questions and their answers can be found at “Trump, Clinton, and Stein answer 20 questions on science”. At the time this was released, Gary Johnson had not returned his answers.
Science and engineering have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII. But some reports question America’s continued leadership in these areas. What policies will best ensure that America remains at the forefront of innovation?
Hillary Clinton (D)
Since World War II, America’s leadership in science- and engineering-based innovation has provided economic benefits along with major advances in health, safety, security, and quality of life. Education, research, and commercialization are all key to America’s success. As President, I will work to strengthen each of these core elements of the ecosystem and facilitate public-private partnerships between them to ensure that America remains at the forefront of innovation.
Advances in science and engineering start with education. We need universal preschool, to get our kids off to a good start; good K-12 schools and teachers in every ZIP code; and to put higher education in reach for everyone with debt-free college and support for high-quality apprenticeships and training programs. We need strong STEM programming in every school, and we need to provide every public school student with access to education in computer science.
Both basic and applied research are major drivers of innovation. As President, I will work with Congress to ensure that government funding of research is sufficient to allow for multi-year planning, exploration of emerging research areas, and inflation-adjusted costs. Funding is needed not only for the basic science research agencies and the large science and engineering mission agencies but also for the broader universe of agencies that are increasingly dependent on STEM for their missions.
The innovation payoff comes from the commercialization of research results. The first step is what universities call “technology transfer” and the medical community calls “translation” – demonstrating the use of research results in practice and sharing the knowledge with the business community. The government has a critical role to play at this stage by opening access to and sharing government-funded research results. I will support the development of collaborative consortia that accelerate the creation of new industries while providing valuable feedback to researchers. As part of my plan to create more good-paying jobs, I will also invest in “Make it in America” partnerships that will make America the first choice for manufacturing by harnessing regional strengths, supporting manufacturers up and down the supply chain, and ensuring international competitiveness by improving industrial energy efficiency by one-third within a decade.
Donald Trump (R)
Innovation has always been one of the great by-products of free market systems. Entrepreneurs have always found entries into markets by giving consumers more options for the products they desire. The government should do all it can to reduce barriers to entry into markets and should work at creating a business environment where fair trade is as important as free trade. Similarly, the federal government should encourage innovation in the areas of space exploration and investment in research and development across the broad landscape of academia. Though there are increasing demands to curtail spending and to balance the federal budget, we must make the commitment to invest in science, engineering, healthcare and other areas that will make the lives of Americans better, safer and more prosperous.
Jill Stein (G)
Virtually every component of our 2016 Platform contains elements likely to have positive effects on innovation. These include our climate action plan, our free public education and cancellation of student debt proposals, and our Medicare for All plank. Vast resources will be freed for investment in public R&D by reduced Pentagon spending. Millions of people currently hobbled by poverty and underperforming schools will be able for the first time in American history to bring their talents to bear on the problems of the 21st century. A just economy, with living wages and paid sick leave, can be far more innovative than one where innovation is determined by a relative handful of corporate executives and Pentagon planners.
Clinton’s response was more extensive than the responses from either Trump or Stein. This may be indicative of who each person is, though I would have expected a little more depth in Dr. Stein’s response.
Both Clinton and Stein offered a vision of innovation through education. Trump’s response was a purely, in my mind, business response that ignored how people are prepared for innovation.
Stein’s response assumed that one is familiar with the Green party platform. Also, there is an assumption in her statement that offers a more draconian view of society than may actually exist.
Neither Clinton nor Trump offered ideas about how they were going to pay for their plans; Stein suggested reduced Pentagon spending.
I truly believe that the key to innovation is an environment that supports the process. This begins with education. There must also be processes that allow businesses to be innovative. I am in agreement with the idea Stein the dominance of the Pentagon in the budget has to end and our budget priorities have to change.