In February, House Speaker John Boehner articulated what has become an axiom of current Republican economic theory — that shrinking the federal government is the path toward more rapid U.S. economic growth and increased private employment.
Boehner was blunt in his assessment that the federal workforce is too large and that GOP efforts to curtail spending were intended to reverse what he saw as a troubling trend. “Over the last two years, since President Obama has taken office, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs,” he asserted. “If some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it.”
The Semiconductor Industry Association, whose products power electronic devices from computers to cars and which serves as a premier example of U.S. technological prowess, honored three lawmakers last month for their leadership in American innovation. The group praised Zoe Lofgren, a House Democrat from Silicon Valley, and Michael McCaul, a House Republican from high-tech Austin, along with Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, for their particular roles in promoting the federal government’s range of support for science, research and development activities.
Coming from an industry that grew out of the private efforts of scientists at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories in the 1950s and then thrived on military and other government contracts — including the Defense Department’s contributions to creation of the Internet — such an endorsement of continued and enhanced federal support for innovation speaks volumes about how much even successful scientific and technological enterprises say they depend on Washington.
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