On Monday, President Obama made a fundamental change in policy. In a speech delivered at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, Obama said the U.S. will begin to reinvest in science and technology.
A half century ago, this nation made a commitment to lead the world in scientific and technological innovation; to invest in education, in research, in engineering; to set a goal of reaching space and engaging every citizen in that historic mission. That was the high water mark of America’s investment in research and development. And since then our investments have steadily declined as a share of our national income. As a result, other countries are now beginning to pull ahead in the pursuit of this generation’s great discoveries.
He set a goal that will put investment in science in technology to levels not seen since JFK made the then-audacious claim in 1962 that man would walk on the moon by the end of the decade.
I’m here today to set this goal: We will devote more than 3 percent of our GDP to research and development. We will not just meet, but we will exceed the level achieved at the height of the space race, through policies that invest in basic and applied research, create new incentives for private innovation, promote breakthroughs in energy and medicine, and improve education in math and science…. This represents the largest commitment to scientific research and innovation in American history.
This new plan also includes renewed focus on science education, including an additional $5 billion for the Secretary of Education’s Race to the Top program and improved funding for graduate and post-graduate training.