decorative nodes

Washington Post Letter to the Editor: Response to Senator Marco Rubio’s April 8 Op-Ed


Senator Marco Rubio penned an op-ed published in the Washington Post about the need to boost the United States’ manufacturing sector. In a response written by Bill Novelli and Mary Woolley, the STAC co-chairs argue that investment in scientific and technological innovation is needed to keep U.S. manufacturing and its economy competitive globally.

Sen. Rubio’s op ed on U.S. industrial policy raised the specter of our nation falling behind our competitors, namely China, in scientific innovation. But the issue is not just one of industrial policy – it is our nation’s history of investing in scientific and technological innovation.

For decades, federal funding of science and technology drove U.S. innovation and, by extension, the economy, which, as Sen. Rubio points out, led to thousands of spinoff technologies that we still use every day. Despite these successes, federal spending on R&D has decreased to just under 0.7% of US. GDP today compared to 1.9% during the space race in 1964.

The bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act represents an important turnabout in that trend, but Congress has failed to fully fund the legislation at the levels it authorized.  While China announced it would increase its R&D investment by 10% in 2024, the U.S. cut the budget for the National Science Foundation by 8.5%. The discoveries and advances in science and technology that the U.S. is so well known for simply can’t occur without increased federal funding, let alone such drastic cuts.

Our inability to develop and implement a plan to fund science and technology at the levels needed to unlock the breakthroughs that will power the future is holding us back. We can’t let that happen.

The Science & Technology Action Committee (STAC) is a group of 25 non-profit, academic, foundation, and corporate leaders working to dramatically strengthen U.S. science and technology. The Committee is co-chaired by: Bill Novelli, Professor Emeritus and founder of Business for Impact at Georgetown University and former CEO of AARP, Sudip Parikh, CEO, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Executive Publisher of the Science Family of Journals, Mary Woolley, President & CEO of Research!America, and Keith Yamamoto, Vice Chancellor for Science Policy and Strategy at UCSF and President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).