Bush's State of the Union calls for research spending

Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
Declan McCullagh
2 min read

President Bush spent a lot of time in his State of the Union address Tuesday evening talking about technology, but it was mostly about calling for better alternatives to oil. (Defending the war in Iraq was another.)

"Tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research -- at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs" in automobile fuel and electrical generation, Bush said, citing an unhealthy "addiction" to oil.

Even though it may be a politically savvy move to call for weaning America from foreign oil, it's hardly clear that the humble black liquid is in danger of disappearing. Peter Huber and Mark Mills last year wrote a provocative article that essentially argues: if prices go up and are viewed as staying up, there's plenty of oil in Canada and Venezuela alone for the next century.

In addition to the oil angle, Bush also reiterated something he called for in the 2005 State of the Union address: digitized medical records. "We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology, to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors," he said.

Finally, Bush cited three themes -- R&D funding, R&D tax credit, and education -- that are beloved by tech companies. Here's an excerpt:

First, I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.

Second, I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit to encourage bolder private-sector initiatives in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life -- and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.

Third, we need to encourage children to take more math and science, and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We've made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms, and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.