–Lauren M. Ruhland, 2008 MCPP intern & editor, MichiganScience
Last year, a group of citizens interested in science decided to invite the major party candidates to an independent debate on science and technology policy and founded Sciencedebate 2008 in the process. Both Barack Obama and John McCain declined to debate the issues face-to-face, but each agreed to answer Sciencedebate’s 14-question survey on topics ranging from national defense and health care to innovation and the state of the world’s oceans. Among the highlights:
On innovation: Obama says he would increase science funding and funding to Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics (STEM) education, citing our technology trade deficit with China as a symptom of problems with the current system. McCain emphasizes the “well-established entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of America’s thinkers and tinkerers,” but also promises funding hikes for research in growing fields like nanotech. He would also create a White House Science and Technology Advisor to guide the nation’s science policy.
On climate change: Both candidates support a cap-and-trade system to manage carbon emissions. Obama says he would work with the United Nations and fellow G8 members to address the issue; McCain would institute big incentives for the development of zero-emission autos.
On education: Obama and McCain both want to spend more money educating America’s schoolchildren, who lag far behind their peers in math and science. Specifically, both hope to increase teacher pay in order to attract more qualified science teachers.
The whole thing is pretty long, but it provides a lot of insight into the policies that could come into effect under either of the likely next Presidents. Both McCain and Obama suggested spending increases or expansion of current programs in almost every question.