John McCain Answers Science Debate 2008


On August 30, we reported that Senator Barack Obama responded to ScienceDebate2008 and this morning we can announce Senator John McCain has as well.

i-034ae41fa908f1cfe0b6f0b4a7f809af-mccainsd08.pngThe Senator from Arizona provided a glimpse into what the McCain-Palin administration would look like. Read his first answer below and all fourteen on our website. A side-by-side comparison of Obama and McCain is available here.

1. Innovation. Science and technology have been responsible for half of the growth of the American economy since WWII. But several recent reports question America's continued leadership in these vital areas. What policies will you support to ensure that America remains the world leader in innovation?

I have a broad and cohesive vision for the future of American innovation. My policies will provide broad pools of capital, low taxes and incentives for research in America, a commitment to a skilled and educated workforce, and a dedication to opening markets around the globe. I am committed to streamlining burdensome regulations and effectively protecting American intellectual property in the United States and around the globe.

Transformative information and communications technologies permeate every aspect of our daily lives. In the last decade, there has been an explosion in the ways Americans communicate with family, friends, and business partners; shop and connect with global markets; educate themselves; become more engaged politically; and consume and even create entertainment. America has led the world into this technology revolution because we have enabled innovation to take root, grow, and prosper. Nurturing technology and innovation is essential for solving the critical problems facing our country: developing alternative fuels, addressing climate change, encouraging commercialization of new technologies, deploying technology to manage cost and enable new jobs, stopping the spiraling expense of health care, and better educating our children and our workforce.

I am uniquely qualified to lead our nation during this technological revolution. While in the Navy, I depended upon the technologies and information provided by our nation's scientists and engineers with during each mission. I am the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The Committee plays a major role in the development of technology policy, specifically any legislation affecting communications services, the Internet, cable television and other technologies. Under my guiding hand, Congress developed a wireless spectrum policy that spurred the rapid rise of mobile phones and Wi-Fi technology that enables Americans to surf the web while sitting at a coffee shop, airport lounge, or public park.

Above all, my commitment to innovation is a commitment to the well-established entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of America's thinkers and tinkerers whose inventions have improved our lives and promoted prosperity. To maintain American leadership, I believe we must nurture the conditions under which entrepreneurs can continue to prosper by bringing new innovators to market and the American people can reap the rewards.

As President, I will ---

- Focus on addressing national needs to make the United States a leader in developing, deploying, and exporting new technologies;

- Utilize the nation's science and technology infrastructure to develop a framework for economic growth both domestically and globally;

- Appoint a Science and Technology Advisor within the White House to ensure that the role of science and technology in policies is fully recognized and leveraged, that policies will be based upon sound science, and that the scientific integrity of federal research is restored;

- Eliminate wasteful earmarks in order to allocate funds for science and technology investments;

- Fund basic and applied research in new and emerging fields such as nanotechnology and biotechnology, and in greater breakthroughs in information technology;

- Promote greater fiscal responsibility by improving the scientific and engineering management within the federal government;

- Encourage and facilitate commercialization of new innovations, especially those created from federally funded research;

- Ensure U.S. leadership in space by promoting an exploration agenda that will combine the discoveries of our unmanned probes with new technologies to take Americans to the Moon, Mars, and beyond;

- Grow public understanding and popularity of mathematics and science by reforming mathematics and science education in schools;

- Leverage technologies to create employment in rural areas and deploy the displaced workforce;

- Create greater transparency in government and encourage more citizens-government dialogs using current technology; and

- Develop and implement a global competitive agenda through a series of business roundtables with industry and academia leaders.

Read more.

More like this

"While in the Navy, I depended upon the technologies and information provided by our nation's scientists and engineers with during each mission."

And apparently his Navy days were the high water mark for McCain's relationship with technology. The man doesn't use a computer or the internet.

I'm relieved to read that John McCain states he is "uniquely qualified to lead our nation during this technological revolution" by virtue of his use of radar and short-wave radios, not to mention how surprised I was to find out that under his guiding hand, mobile phones and Wi-Fi became available. Thankfully he didn't say he invented them.

Beyond his cheeky political hyperbole though, Senator McCain's answers betray a fundamental misunderstanding of the government's role in science and technology. His view starts primarily at the point of commercialization, with very little time, effort or apparent thought given to the many years of work that goes into research prior to that step. It is exactly at these early stages where government funding is most efficiently deployed. These early years require sustained support--without which, we would have very little to commercialize. It is this support that has been horribly lacking through the latter part of the Bush administration and McCain's answers indicate a dangerous continuation of that policy. The Bush administration's decisions over the last 5 years to overlook this type of research has done much to restrict the science and technology pipeline of its greatest assets---its junior members and data that will, with the help of entrepreneurs and industry, go into commercial products. This policy must be changed if we are to move forward and regain our momentum.

Moreover, McCain's suggestion that significant savings can be found by imposing greater "fiscal responsibility by improving the scientific and engineering management within the federal government" is simply mystifying. Our federal science and technology funding agencies and research centers are some of the most efficient and transparent in the world and it is very disingenuous for the candidate to suggest our problems emanate from any direction other than from his own policy source--the Bush administration.

Lastly, and perhaps least important, is that Senator McCain appears slightly out of date---biotechnology is not precisely a "new and emerging" field. It contributes and has contributed for some time to significant economic activity. It can, however, be mismanaged like any other sector of the economy. We need a president that respects science and understands how it contributes to our countries prosperity and well being.

By genejockey (not verified) on 15 Sep 2008 #permalink

So studies of bear genetics in Montana -- a prime example of an earmark he says he wants to cut -- need to be curtailed fund science and technology research?

And, of course, this is the guy who talks about cap-and-trade without mandatory caps. So we get what, the ability to trade unlimited pollution credits? What good does this do.

Needless to say, I'm quite confused.

Really not surprising how vague he is for many of his answers.