Mark Muro

With budget chaos deepening in Washington and the politics of gesture ascendant, it’s hard to know how seriously to take President Obama’s FY 2012 budget proposals--released against the backdrop of budget melodramas and the massive proposed program cuts being pushed by the House GOP. Still, as a statement of priorities, the new outline must be taken seriously, especially where it advances an expansive and important agenda for new investment in U.S.

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The White House’s recent update of its 2009 “Strategy for American Innovation” improves on the first edition. The new document seems more forceful in making the case that innovation is essential to “winning the future.” And it does a firmer, brisker job of establishing that although the private sector is “America’s innovation engine” government must serve as an “innovation facilitator” given the presence of a series of critical “market failures” surrounding the conduct of basic scientific research, commercial innovation, and the deployment of new technologies. Such arguments provide a cogent f

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In 2007, the America Competes Act created a new agency called ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects-Energy) in order to fund and foster breakthrough energy technologies. Since then, one of us, Mark Muro, has consistently endorsed the agency’s vision and strategy. Staffed on a temporary basis by scientists with extraordinary talent for both invention and commercialization, ARPA-E functions like a venture-capital firm with a public-goods focus. This allows it to fund research and development projects for which the potential benefits to humankind, the U.S.

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One surprising passage in Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech was President Obama’s sudden embrace of government restructuring. About 43 minutes into the speech, the president placed the federal bureaucracy’s institutional anachronisms on center stage, and declared the issue not just a matter of efficiency but of national competitiveness.

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Too often in recent American history the “innovation” agenda has felt like a specialized, glossy cant for good times—for Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Boston technologists, and Wired readers. Last night, in his State of the Union speech, President Obama changed that. Instead of settling for austerity-talk or “small ball,” Obama placed innovation at the center of his narrative, and promoted technology innovation (especially clean energy innovation) as the central imperative of national economic renewal..

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As a new class of governors mulls how to reignite job creation, it’s safe to bet that too many of them will go in for firm “recruitment.” Eager to deliver results fast, these well-intentioned executives will seek to out-compete rival states in an expensive race to poach companies and jobs from elsewhere. Their hope: secure some splashy ribbon cuttings and early announcements of job-creation. And yet, smart governors may want to spare themselves the expense.

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Will states soon begin defaulting on their debts, with further negative implications for localities and U.S.

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There’s been a lot of talk about state budget woes across the country as impacted by the Great Recession.

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Perhaps lost in the flurry of last month’s lame duck session of Congress, America’s flagship “competitiveness” bill, America COMPETES, passed last month when the House accepted the Senate’s text and officially reauthorized it just before Congress adjourned. This is a big deal, because while there are several major disappointing omissions in the final bill, there is also a sense of relief and genuine progress that should be especially gratifying to the nation’s growing ranks of regionalists. Congress both united in a difficult year to continue building the nation’s innovation capabilities and a

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So it’s time to get this done. Late last Friday the Senate passed a severely edited version of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 to continue funding for a number of science, education, and technology programs and agencies. That means HR 5116 now heads back to the House for a vote as early as today—a vote that, while in some ways frustrating, remains essential.

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