R&D Tax Credits do increase innovative activity. With no policy currently in place, will the United States become even less competitive by failing to create an environment that properly induces firms to innovate? Policy makers must act by making increasing and making permanent the R&D tax credit, or we will all pay the price.
Science and R&D
Eroding Our Foundation: Sequestration, R&D, Innovation and U.S. Economic Growth
Because of the Budget Control Act, budget enforcement procedures known as sequestration will commence January, 2013 unless Congress and the Obama Administration act otherwise. The sequester requires cuts in discretionary spending to achieve $1.2 trillion in savings from 2013- 2021. When compared to 2011 spending levels, this will lead to a cut of 8.8 percent (or $12.5 billion) of federally-funded research and development (R&D) in 2013. Because of the key role federal R&D plays in driving U.S. innovation, productivity, and economic growth; we estimate that the projected decline in R&D will reduce GDP by between $203 billion and $860 billion over the nine year period, depending on the baseline used. At $203 billion, the loss is equivalent to taking away from U.S. consumers all the new motor vehicles purchase over six months, over two years of airline travel, or six years of attendance at professional sporting events.
These R&D cuts will also result in job losses of approximately 200,000 in 2013. Reducing the budget deficit is important, but it should not and does not have to come at the expense of growth-inducing investments in areas like federal support for R&D. In fact, undermining growth capability is disruptive of a deficit control policy.
The report first explains how sequestration will impact R&D expenditures and the U.S. innovation system. Next, the report presents the conceptual model and previous research explaining how R&D funding impacts the economy at large. Subsequently, based on the latest academic research, we estimate the effects of the R&D expenditure cuts on: productivity and GDP, the knowledge base (patents and publications), the U.S. standings in the global innovation system, and finally employment. While ensuring that the federal budget crisis comes under control is critical, everything should not be “on the table” when doing this. Cutting federal support R&D, a key “fuel” for the U.S. innovation economy engine, would not only lead to a relatively smaller U.S. economy and higher unemployment , it would reduce U.S. global competitiveness precisely at a time when the U.S. economy is struggling to stay in the race for global innovation advantage.
Impact of Sequestration on Technology and Innovation
Overall, it is abundandly clear that the across-the-board cuts are bad policy and should be avoided if possible. As ITIF wrote in Taking on the Three Deficits, while budget cuts are a necessary piece of debt reduction, indiscriminate budget cuts that harms America’s ability to innovation and grow are far from rational economic policy. Hopefully, as the impact of the potential sequestration cuts becomes more clear, this will provide Congress the motivation it needs to act and create a more innovation-friendly budget.
Winning the Race 2012 Memos
As the 2012 presidential campaign moves in the final stage, ITIF is presenting general principles and specific recommendation ideas across several policy areas we believe the next President and Congress should adopt to restore U.S. global competiveness and prosperity.
As chronicled in Innovation Economic: The Race for Global Advantage, the United States is losing its once formidable edge as an innovator. Many other nations are putting in place better tax, talent, technology and trade policies, and reaping the rewards in terms of faster growth, more jobs, and faster income growth. It’s not too late for the United States to regain its lead but it will need to act boldly and with resolve.
Week by week until the November election, the Winning the Race series will put forward creative yet pragmatic ideas in policies affecting taxes, trade, education, broadband, the digital economy, clean energy, science and technology and other areas. Taken as a whole, the series represents a new Innovation Consensus to replace the outdated Washington Consensus.
Memo One (September 3, 2012): Boosting Innovation, Competitiveness, and Productivity
Memo Two (September 10, 2012): Trade and Globalization
Memo Three (September 17, 2012): Corporate Tax
Memo Four (September 24, 2012): Digital Communication Networks
Memo Five (October 1, 2012): Traded Sector Industries
Memo Six (October 9, 2012): Digital Economy
Memo Seven (October 15, 2012): STEM Skills
Memo Eight (October 22, 2012): Clean Energy
Memo Nine (October 29, 2012): Science and Technology
Memo Ten (November 5, 2012): Overcoming the Barriers
Complete List of Policy Recommendations: Top Policy Recommendations for the Obama Administration to Help the United States Win the Race for Global Advantage