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Sprinkles from the Left

The Left generally supports the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.

The nation that wins the global tech race will dominate the 21st century…

Given the rapid pace of innovation and tech’s impact on our economy and defense capabilities in the last decade, there is ample evidence to suggest that the need for investment in tech research and development has never been greater. China has been closing the tech gap in recent years by making bold investments in tech with the intent of overtaking the United States. This is a tech war we cannot afford to lose.

It’s imperative that Congress pass the Endless Frontier Act and authorize the biggest R&D tech investment in the United States since the Apollo years.…

The United States continues to have a crucial tech edge over its competitors, most notably China. The only way we can hope to win the 21st century is to make significant investments in research and development that will spark the next wave of innovation.

Editorial Boards, Mercury News & East Bay Times

President Xi Jinping’s Made in China 2025 strategy is a 10-year blueprint aimed at catapulting China into a technology and advanced manufacturing leader in both the commercial and military domains. Good estimates are elusive, but China’s subsidies alone reach into the hundreds of billions of dollars. And these investments have already paid off handsomely in several areas, like artificial intelligence, solar energy, and 5G, where many experts believe China is on par with or already outstripping the United States.

U.S. firms will continue to lose ground in the competition with Chinese companies if Washington continues to rely so heavily on private sector research and development, which is directed toward short-term profit-making applications rather than long-term, transformative breakthroughs. And the United States will be more insecure if it lacks the manufacturing base necessary to produce essential goods—from military technologies to vaccines—in a crisis.

Jennifer Harris, fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Jake Sullivan, non-resident Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Published in Foreign Policy Magazine)

Now entitled the “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act,” it’s a patchwork of bills compiled from seven different committees and knitted loosely together under the China rubric — the parliamentary equivalent of a dog’s breakfast. Different sections of the bill directly contradict each other on certain issues (such as restricting foreign donations to universities). Only about $54 billion of the $244 billion for innovation and research in the bill is actually paid for…

There’s growing fear around Capitol Hill that this entire project could go belly up. It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which each chamber ends up passing separate bills that never become law, each patting itself on the back and blaming the other for the overall failure. That would be a clear sign that Washington is too broken to come together, even when there’s broad consensus on an urgent national security and economic issue.

Josh Rogin, Washington Post ($ or try incognito)

Sprinkles from the Right

The Right is split on the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.

The Senate is moving fast to pass the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), which will spend significant taxpayer dollars to help Washington compete technologically with China. The bill must include strong “research security” provisions to stop China’s rapacious program of acquiring science and technological know-how. U.S. science and technology programs have not been well protected from Beijing to date, and as Congress pumps more government funding into the U.S. research enterprise, such laxity in protecting American intellectual property (IP) can no longer be tolerated. While other costs to U.S. national power are more difficult to measure, the U.S. Trade Representative estimated in 2018 that Chinese theft of American IP costs U.S. firms between $225 billion and $600 billion every year. General Keith Alexander, a former National Security Agency director, has called China’s technology theft “the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.”

Members of Congress should revisit the full range and scope of the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign-technology-and-science-acquisition programs and address them in the bill.

Daniel Blumenthal is a director of Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of The China Nightmare: The Grand Ambitions of a Decaying State. Linda Zhang is a research associate in Asian studies at AEI. (Published in National Review)

Congress must make major revisions to focus the bill directly on the China challenge—not on special interests and ineffective government interventions…

Overall, as currently written, the bill does more to damage the U.S. economy and address domestic concerns unrelated to the China challenge than it does to improve America’s competitive position.

Walter Lohman, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center

LIBERTARIAN VIEW (separate from the Right):

The United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 is being widely framed as a bipartisan effort to stand up to China…

But if you want to know what this legislation is really about, you have to skip down several paragraphs to where the Times notes that the bill’s “popularity made it a magnet for industry lobbyists and lawmakers’ pet priorities…

The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act is business as usual for a feckless Congress: a lobbyist-crafted proposal that ignores America’s increasingly precarious fiscal state to funnel public money to politically connected special interests.

Eric Boehm, Reason