Mitt Romney strives to become the president of the USA for theRepublican party. His policy agenda differs from President Obama’sand he attacks the views and actions of his opponent with gusto inhis answers to the 14 key questions on science, HE and theknowledge economy. “President Obama’s misguided attempts to playthe role of venture capitalist, pick winners and losers, and spendtens of billions of dollars on politically-prioritized investmentshave been a disaster for the American taxpayer”.
As a follow up on the successfulScienceDebate 2008, the US presidential candidatesfor 2012 answered these 14 most pressing questions, put before themby ScienceDebate 2012. President Obama’s answersyou’ll read here. Here are former Governor Romney’s answerson such topics as ocean health, innovation, biosecurity, the futureof the internet and climate change as well as spaceprograms and his plans for higher education.
1.Innovation and the Economy
Science and technology have been responsible for over half ofthe growth of the U.S. economy since WWII, when the federalgovernment first prioritized peacetime science mobilization. Butseveral recent reports question America’s continued leadership inthese vital areas. What policies will best ensure that Americaremains a world leader in innovation?
Innovation is the key to economic growth and job creation, andincreasingly important to American competitiveness in the globaleconomy. Three-quarters of all U.S. economic growth, andthree-quarters of the U.S. productivity advantage over other OECDnations, is directly attributable to innovation, and wages ininnovation-intensive industries have grown more than twice as fastas other wages in recent decades.
My plan for a stronger middle class will rebuild the Americaneconomy on the principles of free enterprise, hard work, andinnovation. The promotion of innovation will begin on Day One, withefforts to simplify the corporate tax code, reform job retrainingprograms, reduce regulatory burdens, and protect Americanintellectual property around the world.
Over the course of my campaign, I have laid out a detailedeconomic plan that seeks to strengthen the American economy byempowering entrepreneurs and workers and rewarding innovation. Thisplan emphasizes critical structural adjustments to promote growthrather than short-term fixes.
We must reform America’s legal immigration system to attract andretain the best and the brightest, and equip more Americans withthe skills to succeed. I will raise visa caps for highly skilledforeign workers, offer permanent residence to foreign studentsgraduating with advanced degrees in relevant fields, andrestructure government retraining programs to empower individualworkers and welcome private sector participation.
We must pursue fundamental tax reform that simplifies the taxcode, broadens the tax base, and lowers tax rates. I will lower thecorporate tax rate to 25 percent, strengthen and make permanent theR&D tax credit, and transition to a territorial tax system. Iwill cut individual income tax rates across the board, and maintaintoday’s low tax rates on investment. And I will ensure that thesechanges are made permanent, so that investors and entrepreneurs arenot confronted with a constantly shifting set of rules.
We must reduce the power of unaccountable regulators byrequiring that all major regulations receive congressional approvaland by imposing a regulatory cap that prevents the addition of newregulatory costs. In a Romney Administration, agencies will have tolimit the costs they are imposing on society and recognize thattheir job is to streamline and reduce burdens, not to add newones.
We must open new markets for American businesses and workers. Iwill create a Reagan Economic Zone encompassing nationscommitted to the principles of free enterprise. At the same time, Iwill confront nations like China that steal intellectual propertyfrom American innovators while closing off American access to theirmarkets.
The private sector is far more effective at pursuing andapplying innovation than government could ever be. However, thereare key areas in which government policy must strengthen theability of the private sector to innovate effectively.
America’s K-12 education system lags behind other developednations, and while our higher education system remains the envy ofthe world its costs are spiraling out of control. We must pursuegenuine education reform that puts the interests of parents andstudents ahead of special interests and provides a chance for everychild.
I will take the unprecedented step of tying federal fundsdirectly to dramatic reforms that expand parental choice, invest ininnovation, and reward teachers for their results instead of theirtenure. I will also ensure that students have diverse andaffordable options for higher education to give them the skillsthey need to succeed after graduation.
President Obama’s misguided attempts to play the role of venturecapitalist, pick winners and losers, and spend tens of billions ofdollars on politically-prioritized investments have been a disasterfor the American taxpayer. Yet at the same time, we must neverforget that the United States has moved forward in astonishing waysthanks to national investment in basic research and advancedtechnology.
As president, I will focus government resources on researchprograms that advance the development of knowledge, and ontechnologies with widespread application and potential to serve asthe foundation for private sector innovation andcommercialization.
2. Climate Change
The Earth’s climate is changing and there is concern about thepotentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet.What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and otherpolicies proposed to address global climate change-and what stepscan we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges likeclimate change that cross national boundaries?
I am not a scientist myself, but my best assessment of the datais that the world is getting warmer, that human activitycontributes to that warming, and that policymakers should thereforeconsider the risk of negative consequences. However, there remainsa lack of scientific consensus on the issue – on the extent of thewarming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity ofthe risk – and I believe we must support continued debate andinvestigation within the scientific community.
Ultimately, the science is an input to the public policydecision; it does not dictate a particular policy response.President Obama has taken the view that if global warming isoccurring, the American response must be to slash carbon dioxideemissions by imposing enormous costs on the U.S. economy.
First he tried a massive cap-and-trade bill that would havedevastated U.S. industry. When that approach was rejected byCongress, he declared his intention to pursue the same course onhis own and proceeded through his EPA to impose rules that willbankrupt the coal industry.
Nowhere along the way has the President indicated what actualresults his approach would achieve – and with good reason. Thereality is that the problem is called Global Warming, not AmericaWarming. China long ago passed America as the leading emitter ofgreenhouse gases. Developed world emissions have leveled off whiledeveloping world emissions continue to grow rapidly, and developingnations have no interest in accepting economic constraints tochange that dynamic.
In this context, the primary effect of unilateral action by theU.S. to impose costs on its own emissions will be to shiftindustrial activity overseas to nations whose industrial processesare more emissions-intensive and less environmentally friendly.That result may make environmentalists feel better, but it will notbetter the environment.
So I oppose steps like a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade systemthat would handicap the American economy and drive manufacturingjobs away, all without actually addressing the underlying problem.Economic growth and technological innovation, noteconomy-suppressing regulation, is the key to environmentalprotection in the long run.
So I believe we should pursue what I call a “No Regrets” policy- steps that will lead to lower emissions, but that will benefitAmerica regardless of whether the risks of global warmingmaterialize and regardless of whether other nations take effectiveaction.
For instance, I support robust government funding for researchon efficient, low-emissions technologies that will maintainAmerican leadership in emerging industries. And I believe thefederal government must significantly streamline the regulatoryframework for the deployment of new energy technologies, includinga new wave of investment in nuclear power.
These steps will strengthen American industry, reduce greenhousegas emissions, and produce the economically-attractive technologiesthat developing nations must have access to if they are to achievethe reductions in their own emissions that will be necessary toaddress what is a global issue.
3. Research and the Future
Federally funded research has helped to produceAmerica’s major postwar economies and to ensure our nationalsecurity, but today the UK, Singapore, China, and Korea are makingcompetitive investments in research. Given that the next Congresswill face spending constraints, what priority would you give toinvestment in research in your upcoming budgets?
As I noted above, I am a strong supporter of federally fundedresearch, and continued funding would be a top priority in mybudget. The answer to spending constraints is not to cut back oncrucial investments in America’s future, but rather to spend moneymore wisely. For instance,
President Obama spent $90 billion in stimulus dollars in afailed attempt to promote his green energy agenda. That samespending could have funded the nation’s energy research programs atthe level recommended in a recent Harvard University study fornearly twenty years.
Good public policy must also ensure that federal research isbeing amplified in the private sector, and that major breakthroughsare able to make the leap from the laboratory to the marketplace.Unfortunately, President Obama has pursued policies across a rangeof fields that will have the opposite effect.
For instance, Obamacare imposes an excise tax on the revenue ofmedical device companies that is already driving jobs andinvestment overseas.
Meanwhile, the FDA’s slow and opaque approval process is ratedless than one-fourth as effective as its European counterpart bymedical technology companies. Robust NIH funding will only have itsdesired effect if paired with sensible policies that facilitatemedical innovation more broadly.
4. Pandemics and Biosecurity
Recent experiments show how Avian flu may becometransmissible among mammals. In an era of constant and rapidinternational travel, what steps should the United States take toprotect our population from emerging diseases, global pandemicsand/or deliberate biological attacks?
Pandemics are not new – they have happened at different pointsthroughout human history. And it is a certainty that, at some pointin the future, they will happen again. Fortunately, America todayis better prepared than ever to face a pandemic. In part, this isbecause researchers are learning so much more about infectiousdiseases, how they work, and how they spread.
Unfortunately, globalization has enabled the spread of thesediseases much more rapidly from previously remote corners of theworld to the busiest airports and cities.
To further improve preparedness, we must continue to invest inthe best public health monitoring systems that can be built. I willalso encourage advancements in research and manufacturing toincrease scientific understanding of new pathogens and improveresponse time when they emerge. The development of newcountermeasures, from diagnostics to antibiotics and antivirals torespirators, will help protect human lives in the face of new bugsand superbugs.
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has taken numerous stepsthat are stifling medical innovation. He has imposed new taxes oninnovative companies. He has empowered bureaucrats to manage themarketplace.
His FDA has slowed the drug development process and insertedrequirements that drive up the cost of developing new antibiotics.A robust public health system is only as strong as the toolsavailable, and I will empower the private sector to pursue thebreakthroughs that will equip society for the health challenges ofthe twenty-first century.
Increasingly, the global economy is driven by science,technology, engineering and math, but a recent comparison of15-year-olds in 65 countries found that average science scoresamong U.S. students ranked 23rd, while average U.S. mathscores ranked 31st. In your view, why have Americanstudents fallen behind over the last three decades, and what roleshould the federal government play to better prepare students ofall ages for the science and technology-driven globaleconomy?
The education challenges America faces are not new.Since A Nation at Risk was published almostthirty years ago, our country has understood the urgent need forreform. Yet today, fewer than 75 percent of freshmen graduatewithin four years of entering high school, and far too many who dograduate require remediation when they enroll in college.
In a recent survey of more than 10,000 of its graduates, theHarvard Business School identified America’s K-12 education systemas one of our nation’s greatest competitive weaknesses – only thedysfunction of our political system itself scored worse. Recenttest results showing U.S. students lagging behind theirinternational peers are unacceptable in their own right, and asobering warning of a potential decline threatening our nation’sfuture.
Politicians have attempted to solve these problems with morespending. But while America’s spending per student is among thehighest in the world, our results lag far behind. We spend nearlytwo-and-a-half times as much per pupil today, in real terms, as in1970, but high school achievement and graduation rates havestagnated. Higher spending rarely correlates with betterresults.
Even the liberal Center for American Progress acknowledged in arecent study that “the literature strongly calls into question thenotion that simply investing more money in schools will result inbetter outcomes,” and reported from its own research that moststates showed “no clear relationship between spending andachievement” even after adjusting for other factors like the costof living.
Unfortunately, rather than embracing reform and innovation,America remains gridlocked in an antiquated system controlled to adisturbing degree by the unions representing teachers. The teachersunions spend millions of dollars to influence the debate in favorof the entrenched interests of adults, not the students our systemshould serve.
The efforts of teachers will be central to any successfulreform, but their unions have a very different agenda: opposinginnovation that might disrupt the status quo while insulating eventhe least effective teachers from accountability. Sadly, thesepriorities do not correlate with better outcomes for ourchildren.
To the contrary, teachers unions are consistently on the frontlines fighting against initiatives to attract and retain the bestteachers, measure performance, provide accountability, or offerchoices to parents.
Real change will come only when the special interests take aback seat to the interests of students. Across the nation, glimmersof success offer reason for hope. Charter school networks such asthe KIPP Academies, Uncommon Schools, and Aspire Public Schools areproducing remarkable results with students in some of our nation’smost disadvantaged communities. Florida Virtual School and otherdigital education providers are using technology in new ways topersonalize instruction to meet students’ needs.
In Massachusetts, whose schools have led the nation since mytime as governor, students’ math achievement is comparable to thatof the top-performing national school systems worldwide. In ournation’s capital, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program hasachieved high school graduation rates above 90 percent ininner-city communities where barely half of public school studentsare earning their diplomas. These successes point the way towardgenuine reform.
My agenda for K-12 education is organized around the followingprinciples:
-Empowering parents with far greater choice over the schooltheir child attends is a vital component of any national agenda foreducation reform. To start, low-income and special-needs childrenmust be given the freedom to choose the right school and bringfunding with them. These students must have access to attractiveoptions, which will require support for the expansion of successfulcharter schools and for greater technology use by schools.
-States must have in place standards to ensure that every highschool graduate is prepared for college or work and, through annualtesting, hold both students and educators accountable for meetingthem. The results of this testing, for both their own children andtheir schools, must be readily available to parents in an easy tounderstand format.
-A world-class education system requires world-class teachers inevery classroom. Research confirms that students assigned to moreeffective teachers not only learn more, but they also are also lesslikely to have a child as a teenager and more likely to attendcollege. Policies for recruitment, evaluation, and compensationshould treat teachers like the professionals they are, not likeinterchangeable widgets.
Many policymakers and scientists say energy security andsustainability are major problems facing the United States thiscentury. What policies would you support to meet the demand forenergy while ensuring an economically and environmentallysustainable future?
A crucial component of my plan for a stronger middle class is todramatically increase domestic energy production and partnerclosely with Canada and Mexico to achieve North American energyindependence by 2020.
While President Obama has described his own energy policy as a”hodgepodge,” sent billions of taxpayer dollars to green energyprojects run by political cronies, rejected the Keystone XLPipeline as not in “the national interest,” and sought repeatedlyto stall development of America’s domestic resources, my pathforward would establish America as an energy superpower in the 21stcentury.
The goal of energy independence has long proved elusive, butanalysts across the spectrum – energy experts, investment firms,even academics at Harvard University – now recognize that surgingU.S. energy production, combined with the resources of America’sneighbors, can meet all of the continent’s energy needs within adecade. The key is to embrace these resources and open access tothem.
A successful national energy strategy will have a fundamentalinfluence on the well-being of the nation. An expansion in theaffordable, reliable supply of domestically produced energy canbolster the competitiveness of virtually every industry within thecountry, creating millions of new jobs from coast to coast. Withfewer energy imports and more exports of manufactured goods,America’s trade deficit will decline and the dollar willstrengthen.
The benefits even extend beyond immediate economic growth. Thelease payments, royalties, and taxes paid to the American people inreturn for the development of the nation’s resources can yieldliterally trillions of dollars in new government revenue. Lowerenergy prices can ease the burdens on household budgets. And allAmericans can rest assured that the nation’s security is no longerbeholden to unstable but oil-rich regions half way around theworld.
I have put forward a six-part plan for achieving these goals.First, I will empower states to control onshore energy development,including on federal lands within their borders. Second, I willopen offshore areas to development. Third, I will pursue a NorthAmerican Energy Partnership so that America can benefit from theresources of its neighbors.
Fourth, I will ensure accurate assessment of the nation’s energyresources by updating decades-old surveys that do not reflectmodern technological capabilities. Fifth, I will restoretransparency and fairness to permitting and regulation.
And sixth, I will facilitate private-sector-led development ofnew energy technologies.
Throughout this agenda, I remain committed to implementing andenforcing strong environmental protections that ensure all energydevelopment activity is conducted in a safe and responsible manner.But whereas President Obama has used environmental regulation as anexcuse to block the development of resources and the constructionof infrastructure, I will pursue a course that designs regulationnot to stifle energy production but instead to facilitateresponsible use of all energy sources – from oil and coal andnatural gas, to nuclear and hydropower and biofuels, to wind andsolar.
Energy development, economic growth, and environmentalprotection can go hand-in-hand if the government focuses ontransparency and fairness instead of seeking to pick winners andrepay political favors.
Thanks to science and technology, the United States has theworld’s most productive and diverse agricultural sector, yet manyAmericans are increasingly concerned about the health and safety ofour food. The use of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides, as wellas animal diseases and even terrorism pose risks. What steps wouldyou take to ensure the health, safety and productivity of America’sfood supply?
Food safety is crucial to both the health and safety of theAmerican people and the economic strength of the agriculture sectoras it serves both this nation and export markets around theworld.
Businesses and workers in America’s agriculture system, fromfarmers and ranchers to packager and processors to grocers andrestaurants, work incredibly hard to provide peace of mind to thehundreds of millions they feed every year. Government regulatorsplay an important role in this system, monitoring products andprocesses while taking rapid action when problems do arise.
Preventive practices are the best tool to reduce the incidenceof food-borne illnesses because they provide the greatest controlover the potential risks of contamination and are generally themost cost-effective. These practices are best developed by growers,handlers, processors, and others in the supply chain with specificknowledge of the risks, diversity of operations in the industry,and feasibility of potential mitigation strategies.
In a Romney Administration, the FDA will work closely withindustry, and collaborate with researchers and state agencies, todevelop specific guidance for the commodities most often associatedwith food-borne illness outbreaks. With advanced research andcontinued scientific breakthroughs, state-of-the-art monitoring,and a collaborative instead of combative relationship betweenregulators and businesses, America’s food system will continue tobe the world’s
8. Fresh Water
Less than one percent of the world’s water is liquid freshwater, and scientific studies suggest that a majority of U.S. andglobal fresh water is now at risk because of increasingconsumption, evaporation and pollution. What steps, if any, shouldthe federal government take to secure clean, abundant fresh waterfor all Americans?
America has made extraordinary environmental progress in recentdecades thanks to the laws that protect our air and water. Butwhile these laws have served us well, they have not been modernizedin over twenty years and are now significantly out of date.
Our communities and businesses must contend with excessivelycostly and inflexible approaches that impose unnecessary economicconstraints and trigger inevitable litigation. The result is todelay progress that could be achieved, and to leave communities andnatural resources worse instead of better off.
I will modernize the federal laws and regulations governingwater use to enable smarter, more collaborative, more flexible, andmore cost-effective approaches that welcome state and localparticipation as partners and leaders.
A combination of incentives, market-based programs, andcooperative conservation measures will improve the water quality ofour lakes, rivers, streams and coastal environments. Through arenewed focus on research and technology in both the private andpublic sectors, America can meet the growing challenge ofmaintaining and improving the nation’s drinking water andsanitation infrastructure.
9. The Internet
The Internet plays a central role in both our economy and oursociety. What role, if any, should the federal government play inmanaging the Internet to ensure its robust social, scientific, andeconomic role?
It is not the role of any government to “manage” the Internet.The Internet has flourished precisely because government has so farrefrained from regulating this dynamic and essential cornerstone ofour economy. I would rely primarily on innovation and marketforces, not bureaucrats, to shape the Internet and maximize itseconomic, social and scientific value.
Thanks to the non-governmental multi-stakeholder model, theInternet is – and always has been – open to all ideas and lawfulcommerce as well as bountiful private investment. Unfortunately,President Obama has chosen to impose government as a centralgatekeeper in the broadband economy. His policies interfere withthe basic operation of the Internet, create uncertainty, andundermine investors and job creators.
Specifically, the FCC’s “Net Neutrality” regulation representsan Obama campaign promise fulfilled on behalf of certain specialinterests, but ultimately a “solution” in search of a problem.
The government has now interjected itself in how networks willbe constructed and managed, picked winners and losers in themarketplace, and determined how consumers will receive access totomorrow’s new applications and services. The ObamaAdministration’s overreaching has replaced innovators and investorswith Washington bureaucrats.
In addition to these domestic intrusions, there are also callsfor increased international regulation of the Internet through theUnited Nations. I will oppose any effort to subject the Internet toan unaccountable, innovation-stifling international regulatoryregime. Instead, I will clear away barriers to private investmentand innovation and curtail needless regulation of the digitaleconomy.
10. Ocean Health
Scientists estimate that 75 percent of the world’s fisheries arein serious decline, habitats like coral reefs are threatened, andlarge areas of ocean and coastlines are polluted. What role shouldthe federal government play domestically and through foreign policyto protect the environmental health and economic vitality of theoceans?
The health of the world’s fisheries is of paramount economic andenvironmental importance to not only America but also the globalcommunity. Maintenance of those fisheries also represents asignificant regulatory challenge, and is indeed often used as anarchetypical illustration of a situation in which a market will notsucceed without some form of governance.
The question, though, is what form of governance should beemployed: where are international agreements required, where isgovernment regulation most appropriate, and where can the fishingindustry itself serve as the best steward?
The federal government has a vital role to play in conductingsound science and making the resulting data available. Not onlyfederal agencies but also foreign and local governments, regionalcooperatives, and industry associations should have access to thedata to protect the health and vitality of the oceans and to adjustpolicy when necessary.
A Romney Administration will safeguard the long-term health offisheries, while welcoming input from the fishermen most affectedat every step and seeking to accommodate the needs of these smallbusinessmen wherever possible.
11. Science in Public Policy
We live in an era when science and technology affectevery aspect of life and society, and so must be included inwell-informed public policy decisions. How will you ensure thatpolicy and regulatory decisions are fully informed by the bestavailable scientific and technical information, and that the publicis able to evaluate the basis of these policy decisions?
Sound science is crucial to good public policy and, as thequestion highlights, it is important not only to use sound sciencein the regulatory process but also to do so in a transparent mannerthat allows for public participation and evaluation. I will ensurethat the best available scientific and technical information guidesdecision-making in my Administration, and avoid the manipulation ofscience for political gain.
Unfortunately, President Obama has repeatedly manipulatedtechnical data to support a regulatory agenda guided by politicsrather than science. For example, his “Utility MACT” rule ispurportedly aimed at reducing mercury pollution, yet the EPAestimates that the rule will cost $10 billion to reduce mercurypollution by only $6 million (with an “m”).
This has not stopped the President from trumpeting the rule as”cost-effective” and “common sense,” while claiming it will”prevent thousands of premature deaths.” The trick? Making the ruleso expensive that it will bankrupt the coal industry, and thenclaiming that the elimination of that industry (and its hundreds ofthousands of jobs) would have significant benefits.
In a Romney Administration, sound science will inform soundpolicy decisions, and the costs and benefits of regulations will beproperly weighed in that process. I will pursue legislative reformsto ensure that regulators are always taking cost into account whenthey promulgate new rules. And I will establish a regulatory cap,so that agencies spend as much time repealing and streamliningoutdated regulations as they spend imposing new ones.
The United States is currently in a major discussion over ournational goals in space. What should America’s space explorationand utilization goals be in the 21st century and what steps shouldthe government take to help achieve them?
The mission of the U.S. space program is to spur innovationthrough exploration of the heavens, inspire future generations, andprotect our citizens and allies. Space is crucial totechnological innovation. If we want to have a scientificallytrained and competent workforce, we must demonstrate a long-termcommitment to the pursuit of innovation and knowledge.
Space is crucial to the global economy. From agriculture to airtransportation, from natural resource management to financialmanagement, it is almost impossible to imagine a world without thespace capabilities we have today. Space is crucial to nationalsecurity. U.S. and allied space capabilities provide a source ofstrategic advantage to military and intelligence functions that hasno parallel.
Space is crucial to America’s international standing.Independent access to space, the launch of satellites, and thetravel of citizens to and from space continue to be seen as majortechnical achievements that convey not only America’s military andeconomic power, but also the power of American values. The successof private sector enterprises in achieving these objectives opens anew chapter in American leadership.
America has enjoyed a half-century of leadership in space, butnow that leadership is eroding despite the hard work of Americanindustry and government personnel. The current purpose and goals ofthe American space program are difficult to determine. With clear,decisive, and steadfast leadership, space can once again be anengine of technology and commerce. It can help to strengthenAmerica’s entrepreneurial spirit and commercial competitiveness,launch new industries and new technologies, protect our securityinterests, and increase our knowledge.
Rebuilding NASA, restoring U.S. leadership, and creating newopportunities for space commerce will be hard work, but I willstrive to rebuild an institution worthy of our aspirations andcapable once again leading the world toward new frontiers.
I will bring together all the stakeholders – from NASA and othercivil agencies, from the full range of national securityinstitutions, from our leading universities, and from commercialenterprises – to set goals, identify missions, and define thepathway forward.
A strong and successful NASA does not require more funding, itneeds clearer priorities. I will ensure that NASA has practical andsustainable missions. There will be a balance of pragmatic andtop-priority science with inspirational and groundbreakingexploration programs.
Part of leadership is also engaging and working with our alliesand the international community. I will be clear about the nation’sspace objectives and will invite friends and allies to cooperatewith America in achieving mutually beneficial goals.
Space-based information capabilities are the central nervoussystem of the U.S. national security community. If America is toremain strong as a nation, the national security space programsmust remain strong and sustainable.
I am committed to a robust national security space program and Iwill direct the development of capabilities that defend andincrease the resilience of space assets. I will also direct thedevelopment of capabilities that will deter adversaries seeking todamage or destroy the space capabilities of the U.S. and itsallies.
A strong aerospace industry must be able to compete for and winbusiness in foreign markets. I will work to ease trade limitations,as appropriate, on foreign
sales of U.S. space goods and will work to expand access to newmarkets.
13. Critical Natural Resources
Supply shortages of natural resources affect economic growth,quality of life, and national security; for example China currentlyproduces 97% of rare earth elements needed for advancedelectronics. What steps should the federal government take toensure the quality and availability of critical naturalresources?
The United States was once self-sufficient in its production ofcritical natural resources like rare-earth minerals. But a declinein production, driven more by regulation than by economics orscarcity, has left the nation reliant on imports. The key toguaranteeing the quality and availability of these resources is amodernized regulatory regime that protects the environment whileproviding access to the inputs that our economy requires to growand thrive.
Energy provides a good example. Reliance on foreign oil importshas long been seen as an insurmountable challenge but, as notedabove, extraordinary technological breakthroughs in the privatesector have placed America at the edge of an energy revolution thathas the potential to dramatically expand domestic production andachieve energy independence on the continent by the end of thedecade.
The federal government must open greater access to federallands, and adopt streamlined regulatory processes that encouragerather than stifle resource development.
As the first element of my plan for energy independence, I haveproposed giving states authority to manage the development ofenergy resources within their borders, including on federal lands.States have crafted highly efficient and effective permitting andregulatory programs that address state-specific needs.
For instance, while the federal government takes an average of307 days to permit the drilling of an oil well on federal land, thestate of North Dakota can permit a project in ten days. Coloradodoes it in twenty-seven. Nor do these processes pose any greaterenvironmental risks.
To the contrary, from oil and gas and coal to wind and solar andbiofuels, states are far better able to develop, adopt, and enforceregulations based on their unique resources, geology, and localconcerns. By adopting creative approaches like these to thedevelopment of all the nation’s resources, America can benefitfully from its extraordinary natural endowments.
14. Vaccination and public health
Vaccination campaigns against preventable diseases such asmeasles, polio and whooping cough depend on widespreadparticipation to be effective, but in some communities vaccinationrates have fallen off sharply. What actions would you support toenforce vaccinations in the interest of public health, and in whatcircumstances should exemptions be allowed?
The first priority must be to ensure that America has adequatesupplies of safe and effective vaccines. Making vaccines requirescomplex facilities and highly skilled workers, which means thatAmerica must continue to strengthen its advanced manufacturingcapabilities.
Second, preventing outbreaks of these diseases also requiresthat these vaccines are used effectively. The vaccines only work toprevent outbreaks when a sufficient number of people are protectedfrom the diseases and thus able to stop a bug from spreading fromone person to the next, which means that the vast majority ofAmericans need to take steps to receive vaccinations.
Finally, America must have a robust research and developmententerprise capable of constantly improving on the tools availableto prevent these diseases. That means taking steps to ensure thatAmerica remains the most attractive place to develop andcommercialize innovative, life-saving products like vaccines. Theissue of medical innovation has arisen at several points throughoutthis survey, underscoring its importance to America’s scientificand economic leadership in the coming years.
America has historically dominated the field, but uncompetitivepolicies in areas ranging from taxation to regulation to trade andhuman capital are threatening that leadership. Recent years haveseen an unprecedented exodus of investment from the United Statesto more innovation-friendly markets. My innovation agenda, detailedabove, is aimed at reversing that tide.