Speaking to the Business Roundtable on February 24, Obama said:
To spur the discovery of services and products and industries we have yet to imagine, we’re devoting more than 3 percent of our GDP to research and development -– an amount that exceeds the level achieved at the height of the space race
Who the heck is feeding the President his numbers? If anything, when the data for 2009 and 2010 national R&D finally come out, these figures may turn out to be the worst in years.
The last published number on national R&D spending from NSF puts government, business, and academic spending on R&D at roughly 2.8% of GDP, less than the 2.9% in 1964.
We know that government spending on R&D went up between 2008 and 2010, but the gain was less than a tenth of a percentage point of GDP.
The real problem is that corporate and academic spending on U.S. R&D is almost certainly falling. How fast? We don’t know. But the combination of pharma mergers, auto company cutbacks, and the movement of R&D facilities overseas suggests a sharp cutback in U.S. R&D spending.
Obama was sounding complacent, when he should have been sounding the alarm.