A Report Card for President Bush’s Science Policies

October 28th, 2004

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Earlier this week Democrats on the House Science Committee issued a “report card” on President Bush’s and the Republican-controlled Congress’ science policies. Not surprisingly, the Democrats give the President a “D.” A passing grade, but not by much. Here is how the report card looks:

“The report, entitled Science and Technology: The Untapped American Resource, describes Democratic priorities in these areas, as well as how Republicans in the Administration and Congress have undercut scientific integrity, starved scientific funding, and failed to create effective S&T policy in eight key areas:

*Supporting Technological Innovation to Create Good-Paying Jobs – Republicans have cut key programs which assist small businesses in meeting today’s technological challenges. Grade: F

*Leadership in Manufacturing – The nation’s manufacturers have no effective advocate in the Bush Administration. Grade: F

*Being Good Stewards of the Nation’s Space Program – The civilian space program has been dogged by indecision, false starts, and financial mismanagement. Grade: C-

*The Lack of Scientific Integrity – The use of science in setting health and environmental policy has been corrupted. Grade: D

*Reducing our Dependence on Foreign Oil – Republicans have failed to enact meaningful legislation to deal with energy dependence and record oil prices. Grade: C-

*Securing Cyberspace – There is no effective advocate in the Bush Administration for securing the computer networks which are the backbone of much of our Nation’s economy and safety. Grade: D

*Protecting the Right to Vote: Standards for Voting Technologies – The Administration has ignored a 2002 law insuring the reliability of voting machines. Grade: F

*The Future of American Science and Technology – Because of Republicans’ fiscal irresponsibility, funding prospects for science and technology programs over the next five years looks bleak. Grade: D”

You can access the whole report here (in PDF).

Two quick comments on the report:

1) A “C-”on space policy? Grade inflation at work here it seems. Undoubtedly this is not an “F” because the Congressional Democrats are as wrapped up in responsibility as Congressional Republicans for NASA’s recent failures and current predicament.

2) The grade of “D” on “The Future of American Science and Technology” and accompanying explanation does a better job than most partisan analyses of placing responsibility for the relatively dismal projections of future funding for science and technology with larger decisions made about the federal budget, and not with decisions made specifically about research and development. However, if the report were to have given the Bush Administration a grade simply for the amount of past funding, it would have had to be an “A” given the enormous growth in federal resources devoted to science and technology. Of course an “A” in the magnitude of expenditures is not the same as an “A” in the substance of those expenditures!

Read the whole report here (in PDF).

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