The Making of United States International Economic Policy: Principles, Problems, and Proposals for Reform

By Stephen D. Cohen | Go to book overview

Economic Council or the National Security Council, mainly because enhancement of science and technology policy has not become a genuinely top-priority item with President Clinton. Nevertheless, the Advanced Technology Program's budget increased from $68 million in fiscal year 1993 to $218 million in fiscal 1997. The National Science Foundation's budget grew from $2.7 billion in fiscal 1993 to $3.4 billion in 1997. 16 In addition, the Clinton administration convinced Congress to continue co-funding such industry-specific projects as the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (to reduce emissions, increase fuel efficiency, and improve manufacturing techniques) and networking technologies for the "next generation Internet."


EPILOGUE

Overtaken by the extraordinarily good performance of the U.S. economy, the great debate in Washington over international competitiveness and enhanced science and technology policies did a quick fade in the late 1990s. American industry had largely downsized and restructured itself in response to intense competitive pressures from Japan and elsewhere. Silicon Valley became a metaphor for U.S. technological innovation and dominance of the fast-growing information technology sector. American companies in the services sector were world-class competitors in such growth fields as financial services, data transmission, retailing, and entertainment. Pessimists declaring the need for more government support of high-technology companies were in short supply. The net benefits of an expanded science and technology policy still have not been proven empirically and unambiguously. We do not know how much technological progress made possible by federal funding would still have been achieved if only private seed money had been available. In short, advocacy of expanded U.S. government financial support for a more competitive U.S. industrial sector is based on assumptions, not empirical data. Supporters still advocate an active role for the U.S. government in science and technology policy in the belief that more of a good thing is a good thing. Opponents remain adamant that the government should not waste taxpayers' money doing something that is properly left to the private sector.


NOTES
1.
For a detailed examination of the economic and methodological ambiguities in assessing competitiveness, see the author's "Does the United States Have an International Competitiveness Problem?" in National Competitiveness in a Global Economy, David P. Rapkin and William P. Avery, eds. ( Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1997).
2.
Reproduced in Powernomics--Economics and Strategy after the Cold War, Clyde V. Prestowitz Jr. , Ronald A. Morse, and Alan Tonelson, eds. ( Lanham, Md.: Madison Books, 1991), pp. 129, 134.

-237-

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