If you haven’t checked out ScienceDebate2000.com, you probably should. A group of ordinary Americans got together last fall and called for a presidential debate about the future of science and technology. On September 5, Barack Obama answered the 14 questions that scientists collectively came up with. Although John McCain has not answered the questions yet, the Web site said he will.
I come away impressed with Obama’s policy positions, which was a bit of a surprise. I’m definitely ready for regime change in America, but when I listen to Obama it’s not clear to me that he understands the genius of the American economy–which is our entrepreneurial spirit.
Sometimes, Obama sounds so populist and anti-corporation that it worries me. I fear that he’ll fall back on the same old tired Democratic ideas of worrying more about redistributing wealth than creating new wealth. But having read Obama’s detailed answers to these important questions, I feel as if his real policies are more pro-growth and pro-entrepreneur than the change-centric rhetoric found in his spellbinding speeches.
Among the highlights in his answers:
* Ensuring that the U.S. continues to lead the world in science and technology will be a central priority for my administration
* My administration will increase funding for basic research in physical and life sciences, mathematics, and engineering at a rate that would double basic research budgets over the next decade.
* As president, I will launch a Service Scholarship program that pays undergraduate or graduate teaching education costs for those who commit to teaching in a high-need school, and I will prioritize math and science teachers. Additionally, my proposal to create Teacher Residency Academies will also add 30,000 new teachers to high-need schools – training thousands of science and math teachers.
* My proposals for providing broadband Internet connections for all Americans across the country will help ensure that more students are able to
bolster their STEM achievement.
* Specifically, I will implement a market-based cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary: 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. I will start reducing emissions immediately by establishing strong annual reduction targets with an intermediate goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. A cap- and-trade program draws on the power of the marketplace to reduce emissions in a cost- effective and flexible way. I will require all pollution credits to be auctioned
* First, I have proposed programs that, taken together, will increase federal investment in the clean energy research, development, and deployment by $150 billion over ten years. This research will cover:
• Basic research to develop alternative fuels and chemicals;
• Equipment and designs that can greatly reduce energy use in residential and commercial buildings – both new and existing;
• New vehicle technologies capable of significantly reducing our oil consumption;
• Advanced energy storage and transmission that would greatly help the economics of new electric-generating technologies and plug-in hybrids;
• Technologies for capturing and sequestering greenhouse gases produced by coal plants; and
• A new generation of nuclear electric technologies that address cost, safety, waste disposal, and proliferation risks.
* Overseas, I will launch a Shared Security Partnership that invests $5 billion over 3 years to forge an international intelligence and law enforcement infrastructure to take down terrorist networks.
* I strongly support expanding research on stem cells. I believe that the restrictions that President Bush has placed on funding of human embryonic stem cell research have handcuffed our scientists and hindered our ability to compete with other nations. As president, I will lift the current administration’s ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001 through executive order, and I will ensure that all research on stem cells is conducted ethically and with rigorous oversight