Thursday, February 02, 2006

Clearly, lobbying isn't always bad.

Finally, something to make me think that President Bush's State of the Union may have been more than just talk, at least as far as his new found interest in spending on science is concerned. An article in today's New York Times reports that there was industry lobbying behind the President's announcement that funding science would now be a priority. This lobbying pressure was in response to a National Academy of Sciences report warning of the U.S. losing its position as the pre-eminent innovator in science and technology.

It was a bit surreal to hear the President echo the sentiments of Tom Friedman (see The World is Flat, at right, for more elaboration) and as Chris Mooney has pointed out here and in The Republican War on Science (again see right) Bush isn't the most credible messenger for responsible science policy. However, if there really is industry pressure (i.e. campaign contributions) behind his new "American Competitiveness Initiative", it may have a chance.

Ironically enough, despite Republicans being scared to increase spending in an election year where they may already be in trouble, the prospect of campaign contributions from Intel or Cisco may be enough to force them into action. Here's hoping. Let's also hope the Democrats don't stand in the way just because the President said he is in favor of it. Ultimately, the devil will always be in the details when dealing with politics. If the Republican Congress takes this opportunity to load up this initiative with their own personal agendas (pork or mandating the teaching of intelligent design, as soon to be ex-Senator Rick Santorum tried with "No Child Left Behind") it will be hamstrung and may outright fail, a prospect that probably doesn't scare too many Republicans.

[P.S. I'm pretty proud of this post. If I had just found a way to work Fareed Zakaria in I would have hit all the authors on my 'Recommended Reading' list.]

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