Response to the 2014 State of the Union Address
Statement by Tom Barton, Ph.D.
President, American Chemical Society
Released Jan. 29, 2014
“The American Chemical Society (ACS) applauds President Barack Obama’s continued commitment to growing our economy and driving U.S. innovation, job creation, and global competitiveness through investments in education and in high-value, science and technology-based economic sectors.”
“The federal investments we make in scientific R&D at our nation’s excellent universities and the cutting edge innovations that our companies are able to scale-up, produce and market benefit us all. We urge the president and leaders from both parties in Congress to cooperatively work together to enact policies that will deliver the sustainable economic growth that is so vital to our country’s future.”
“In the past two years, President Obama has emphasized the need to stimulate American manufacturing to create jobs and a downstream delta of prosperity for communities across our nation. Tonight he said again, that we need the right fit of new training for jobs that our companies currently have open — and want to fill.”
“As the president of the world’s largest scientific society with over 163,000 members and as a scientist raised in a family of educators, I can assure you that the focus on STEM education is correct. This is where the opportunities lie for the future of our nation, but we need to sharpen our pencil.”
“Furthermore, to realize the innovation economy our nation’s leaders envision, there are several key policies still pending on the congressional agenda that, if enacted, will help provide components additive to our nation’s economic growth. They are:
Science and Technology Investment through the FY 2015 Budget: Science and technology are the economic workhorses that pull our nation forward, and over decades, they have driven the creation of countless high-skill, high-wage jobs and can once again propel a vigorous U.S. economy and a prosperous way of life for our citizens. The president and Congress should take advantage of the opportunity presented by the return to regular order and bipartisan cooperation in budgeting to establish a predictable and sustained investment strategy focused on research and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education funding at the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the National Institute for Standards and Technology and other key agencies.
America COMPETES Act: Originally passed in 2007 and reauthorized in 2010, the legislation has helped support the science, technology and innovation enterprise that underpins U.S. economic growth and job creation. COMPETES has authorized critical funding for basic scientific research through the federal agencies, fueling America’s research universities, developing discoveries and technological advances and leading to important new innovations. COMPETES has also provided the means to strengthen a wide range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs at all levels, from K-12 through graduate education. Sustained and predictable support for science, engineering and technology is essential for a healthy U.S. economy. It is important that Congress reauthorize COMPETES as soon as possible.
The Research and Development Tax Credit: The R&D tax credit is a crucial incentive for innovation, particularly in connection with fostering new technologies and expanding high-value manufacturing. Originally introduced in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, the credit has been allowed to expire eight times and has been extended 14 times. The current extension expired on December 31, 2013. A tax credit that is unpredictable is not nearly as beneficial in stimulating the economy. Most other nations have a permanent R&D tax credit; ACS believes strongly that the U.S. needs a permanent R&D tax credit in order to be globally competitive.
The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013: popularly known as the Shaheen-Portman bill, this legislation would rewrite national building codes – voluntary standards that are generally used by states and municipalities – with the aim of fostering great energy savings. The bill would also establish education programs to train workers in energy-efficient building design and installation of energy-efficient products and technologies. The bill provides incentives for using highly efficient motors, transformers, and sets goals for the federal government – the single largest consumer of energy.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Last reauthorized in 2001, ESEA or No Child Left Behind funds K-12 education and established standards of learning to shorten achievement gaps and promote equal access to education in the U.S. The ACS strongly encourages effective policies to promote STEM education as a national priority within the ESEA. We urge the Administration to work together with Congress in a bipartisan effort to ensure programs like the Math and Science Partnership retain funding to support teacher recruitment and retention efforts, inquiry based curriculum and definitions of critical subject areas for our future workforce.
“ACS advocates that our nation’s leadership prioritize continued and predictable investment in scientific research to identify and enable new opportunities for innovation. To complement this technological advancement, our nation’s business laws, tax code, trade policies and regulatory environment should work together to ensure that the products of U.S. science and technology companies can be introduced to the international marketplace competitively and without facing restrictive barriers. And a range of education and training opportunities must be implemented to prepare our people for new jobs and new opportunities.”
The American Chemical Society is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.