WASHINGTON—Technological innovation is critical to income growth and national competitiveness, so it is an essential issue to weigh in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. A new report released today by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the world’s top-ranked think tank for science and technology policy, takes a close look at the two major-party candidates’ policy agendas and examines a range of tech-related issues—from the digital economy to trade policy, advanced manufacturing, life science, and clean energy.
The report finds that President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have very different approaches to technology and innovation policy—Trump focusing more on reducing government barriers in the economy, and Biden focusing on a more active role for government.
“Technological innovation is a key factor in achieving virtually all of America’s most important goals—improving public health, strengthening national security, improving competitiveness, ensuring robust increases in living standards, and addressing climate change—so it should be near the center of the presidential debate,” says Robert Atkinson, ITIF’s president and lead author of the report. “The United States is at risk of losing out to China over the next decade or two, which could have serious implications for national security and U.S. power globally.”
The new report examines the candidates’ positions in 10 key policy areas related to technology and innovation, including:
- Innovation and Research and Development (R&D)
- Internet and Digital Economy
- Broadband and Telecommunications
- Education and Skills
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Life Sciences and Biotechnology
- Clean Energy Innovation
The report also provides a summary of the candidates’ general philosophies toward technology and innovation policy.
Table 1: The candidates’ general philosophies toward technology and innovation policy
Akinson added: “Republicans have long focused on limiting or denying government’s contributions to U.S. innovation and competitiveness, but there has been significant progress in recent years as Republican lawmakers in particular have recognized government has an important role to play. We hope that trend continues. For their part, Democrats have traditionally been more willing to support innovation and competitiveness, but that appears to be changing, too, as progressives now seem more interested in reining in big companies and advancing social goals rather than pursuing a growth agenda. Government must develop and implement a coherent set of policies to advance innovation while eschewing policies that would limit innovation. Now more than ever, U.S. policymakers must work harder to develop a bipartisan consensus around the need to advance a serious and comprehensive competitiveness, innovation, and productivity strategy.”