The testimony of Texas Instruments’ (TI) CEO, Richard Templeton at the House Science and Technology Committee 2/6 hearing on “American Competitiveness: The Role of Research and Development,” endorsed key principles of NAM’s Innovation Policy Agenda with laser precision. His support of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education; reversing the growing skills gap in the United State; boosting underfunded federal, basic research spending; fixing the high skilled immigration system; and providing robust, competitive R&D tax incentives are all smart policies that will drive future innovation and job growth in our country.
Templeton got it right about the role research plays in advancing America’s competitiveness: “…federal funding of fundamental scientific research is critical to our nation’s continued competitiveness, economic growth and workforce development” as basic research is the key to unlocking future innovation in the United States. This is important because innovation has a proven track record in helping manufacturers companies to grow. Manufacturers lead all industries in innovation investments, accounting for 70 percent of all private sector research and development spending. This investment results in new product development, increased productivity, and job creation, not to mention the societal spillover benefits that improve our country’s standard of living.
Other countries recognize the exponential value of being home to world class innovation and have enacted attractive innovation policies to lure future R&D activity outside the United States. Templeton’s testimony gives credence to this global competition by citing a disturbing trend — OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) data showing a decline in the U.S. share of global R&D as a percent of GDP from 39 percent to 34 percent from 1999-2010. He cites other stark statistics such as our current skills gap that “…for every unemployed person in the United States, there are two STEM job postings,” which should be a wakeup call for policymakers.
The NAM joins Mr. Templeton in urging lawmakers to enact smart policies that will reverse this trend and drive future innovation in the United States. A first step would be to avert the across-the- board spending cuts from the sequester set to occur March 1. These arbitrary cuts will foolishly cut federal funding of basic research programs and STEM education. An op-ed coauthored by Mr. Templeton appearing 2/6 in Politico sums up the expected negative impact on innovation from sequestration: “…there will be a significant, long-term irreparable price to pay if the U.S. government slashes its support for science and engineering and for those who pursue those fields.”
Doesn’t this impending sequester of federal programs that spur innovation reflect the old adage “penny wise, pound foolish”? These imprudent budget cuts if allowed to occur will be a direct hit at future innovation and economic growth that will reverberate for years to come.
NAM applauds Mr. Templeton’s voice for pro-innovation policy that will result in unleashing future American innovation and create a 21st century workforce to meet the needs of manufacturing. Lawmakers would be prudent to act on his recommendations.