political science part 2: hillary clinton

December 11, 2007 at 9:56 pm | | news, political science, science and the public, science community

Hillary Clinton is the second candidate in this series. Bill Plait over at Bad Astronomy already posted about some of Clinton’s comments on science this press release; enjoy his analysis and readers’ comments here.

There’s actually a lot of information about science and innovation on Clinton’s website! (And I think most of it is new in the last few weeks.) I’ll summarize by listing the main points. I suggest you go read the details at the Clinton website.

General attitude toward science:

According to her press release, Clinton claims that she would sign an executive order that:

  • Rescinds President Bush’s ban on ethical embryonic stem cell research and promotes stem cell research that complies with the highest ethical standards.
  • Bans political appointees from altering or removing scientific conclusions in government publications without any legitimate basis for doing so, and prohibits unwarranted suppression of public statements by government scientists.
  • Directs all department and agency heads to submit annual reports on the steps they have taken to (1) safeguard against instances of political pressure threatening scientific integrity; and (2) promote openness and transparency in decision-making.
  • Reverses President Bush’s new directive that dramatically expands political appointees’ control over agency rulemaking.
  • Revives and expands the national assessment on climate change, going above and beyond the requirements imposed by Congress.
  • Restoring the science advisor’s direct access to the President.
  • Working to re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment.
  • Protecting the integrity and independence of federal scientific advisory committees.
  • Strengthening whistleblower protections for those who disclose potential instances of political interference with science.

All of this is easy to say and to come across at pro-science (or at least not anti-science); that’s easy in comparison to Bush. But what if she didn’t have that on her website? I think it’s important for a candidate to distance oneself from the current Administration’s ridiculously anti-science stance.

Plans for funding:

Clinton has a very detailed plan for funding science research in the US. Here is her 9-point plan:

  1. Establish a $50-billion Strategic Energy Fund.
  2. Increase the basic research budgets 50% over 10 years at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the Defense Department.
    • Increase research focus on the physical sciences and engineering.
    • Require that federal research agencies set aside at least 8% of their research budgets for discretionary funding of high-risk research.
    • Ensure that e-science initiatives are adequately funded.
    • Boost support for multidisciplinary research in areas such as the intersection of bio, info, and nanotechnologies.
  3. Increase the NIH budget by 50% over 5 years and aim to double it over 10 years.
    • Increase investment in the non-health applications of biotechnology in order to fuel 21st century industry.
  4. Direct the federal agencies to award prizes in order to accomplish specific innovation goals.
  5. Triple the number of NSF fellowships and increase the size of each award by 33 percent.
  6. Support initiatives to bring more women and minorities into the math, science, and engineering professions.
  7. Support initiatives to establish leadership in broadband.
  8. Overhaul the R&E tax credit to make the U.S. a more attractive location for high-paying jobs.
  9. Restore integrity to science policy.

I’m really impressed with this. I can’t find anything wrong with any one of these points. Her plan to increase funding for science is spelled out: 50% for the NSF over 10 years; 50% for NIH over five years and double in 10. The nine-point plan is clearly directed at scientists: who else would care about how many NSF fellowships there are each year?

This is better planned than Obama‘s idea listed on his website. That’s not to say that Clinton would actually do a better job promoting science, but she obviously had someone do some careful planning and research into the entire concept of science funding.

Now I’m really curious to see if Obama and the other campaigns revamp their websites to add more information about science. But I’m not holding my breath.


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  1. Yes, her plan is way more detailed and impressive. Also, even if she ends up screwing up her “9-point funding plan”, the executive order would still be possible and not require additional funds that may not be available. The former First Lady is winning the Stance on Science battle thus far.

    Comment by bink — December 12, 2007 #

  2. Any plans to blog about their environmental policies?

    Comment by Bunsen Honeydew — December 13, 2007 #

  3. […] is nowhere near the detail that the Clinton campaign has included on their website. Nevertheless, it seems that President Edwards would turn around the […]

    Pingback by Everyday Scientist » political science part 3: john edwards — December 16, 2007 #

  4. Bunsen: No, I don’t have any plans. But check out this analysis by CNN:

    Comment by sam — January 2, 2008 #

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