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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 1, 2006
Press Briefing by Administration Officials on American Competitiveness Initiative
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
American Competitiveness Initiative
Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao
Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
OSTP Director Dr. John Marburger
10:08 A.M. EST
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: Good morning, everybody. I'm Margaret Spellings. I'm the Secretary of Education. And my fellow Cabinet colleagues and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with you all this morning about the American Competitiveness Initiative that the President laid out last night. It is a bold plan that speaks to the needs of Americans throughout their lifetimes. And addressing these issues will be my friend, Carlos Gutierrez at Commerce; Jack Marburger at the Office of Science and Technology Policy; Secretary Chao at the Department of Labor; and Secretary Bodman at the Department of Energy.
So I'm going to lead off and talk a little bit about the first aspect of the plan, dealing with education. As you heard the President say last night, if we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world. He gave us a bold and, I would say, a historic plan to how we're going to do that, starting with education, but continuing through an American's life.
We have a government-wide plan that involves my fellow Cabinet colleagues, as I said. And keeping America competitive, of course, starts with an educated citizenry, an educated workforce. And that begins as early as kindergarten. We need to make sure that we have citizens in our country that can do the research work and innovation and so forth. So that's why I'm leading off today.
Wherever I go around the country -- I talk with governors, business leaders, policymakers -- and I hear one thing, and that is that we must improve our K-12 pipeline if we are to be successful as a country, as our world gets flatter and flatter. And obviously there's a wide and growing consensus about that. Everyone from the National Academy to the Council on Competitiveness, the National Governors Association, wide agreement that this is something that we need to get about the business of.
The keys to innovation, which has been the heart of our country's success, is creativity and problem solving. And that is what is learned and taught when students study math and science. We must encourage students to take more math and science, more rigorous course work, and they must do so with high-quality curriculum early in their schooling. Whether students are going to end up as auto mechanics or cancer researchers, we know that ever increasingly, technical skills are critical to their success.
Last week, Business Week did a great piece and I think it sums it up well -- it says, "Math will rock your world." And that's more and more true. Whether you're a policymaker or a media consultant, or a mom, or a demographer, statistical analysis, the ability to use numbers to inform your work, is ever more critical. So, in this fast-changing landscape, our education system must keep pace. And the President, last night, laid out a comprehensive strategy for ensuring that our system remains competitive in this world.
We want to give early help to students. We need to work on our elementary school curriculum, to make sure that while they have strong arithmetic skills, that we also plant the seeds of higher order thinking, so that they can go on to high school and be successful there.
We need to bring a research base, as we've done so effectively in reading instruction. We have many, many programs. We spent $2.8 billion in our government in 13 agencies, 207 programs pointed at math and science education. And we have a thousand flowers blooming in maybe a few weeks. So it's important that we establish for educators a best practice base, a research base, to make sure that all students are successful in math and science.
The way we're going to do this, of course, is to train and recruit and improve teaching in America. We all know you can't teach what you don't know, and unfortunately, many teachers are teaching in these subjects without the necessary expertise. Out-of-field teaching occurs often, especially in those classrooms that serve our neediest students in low-income communities, Title I schools and the like.
That's why the President called for an additional 70,000 teachers who can teach rigorous courses, Advanced Placement international baccalaureate college-level work that not only prepares young people for the workplace or for college, but also saves moms and dads money as those students do this more rigorous work in their high schools.
Additionally, the President believes that we ought to recruit individuals from the community, broadly -- the NASA scientists who ought to be able to teach part-time in our schools -- a lot of work and a lot of commitment from industry that can be brought to bear in our classrooms by asking for 30,000 adjunct teachers who can help us spread the information, spread the wealth around these technical areas of math and science.
As a mother who's living this every day -- I have an eighth-grader who's struggling with algebra even as we speak -- and as someone who talks to my fellow soccer moms about this, I know there's a lot of math anxiety out there. But I think that it's our responsibility to let parents know that the world that they grew up in, the world that we grew up in is not the same world that their children are going to be expected to be successful and competitive in. And it requires more math/science capability. And that's why it's most critical that we provide these opportunities and these skills to our children, so that, as the President says, we'll ensure that they'll succeed in life, so they can help our country succeed in the world.
Now, it's my pleasure to introduce Secretary Gutierrez, who absolutely understands the importance of cultivating innovation so that these highly trained students will have places to work and prosper.
SECRETARY GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
Thank you, good morning. Last night, the President made a truly historic speech. He laid out a vision not just for the next year or for his second term, but really a vision that can influence the direction of our country for many, many years to come. He recognized that we live in a global economy, and that economy has been developing for many years and it will continue to get more and more global. And the way to deal with that is not to retreat; the way to win and to grow and to prosper in this global economy is to compete and to lead the world.
The first thing the President called for was increasing our research and development. And as it refers to what we have in the Commerce Department, which is the National Institute of Standards and Technology, we'll be adding 600 new scientists. And I should tell you that in the National Institute of Standards and Technology, we have had three Nobel prize winners. So this is truly a gem within the federal government.
And what we have is the ability to create public, private sector, and university partnerships. And that teamwork between the public sector, the private sector, and our universities is truly a competitive advantage. One-third of all of the R&D that we do in the country is done as the private sector level, but two-thirds is done by -- I'm sorry, at the public sector level. Two-thirds is done by the private sector. And an advantage for us will be our ability to link those two together with our universities to come out with the truly best innovative products that will enable us to continue to lead the world.
We have 3 billion new consumers that we can now access, that have surfaced over the past 20 years. But we also have 3 billion new competitors. And the President mentioned last night that the best way to compete and win is to open up markets, to continue to have free trade agreements, to continue to access new consumers. This is not a time to withdraw. It is not a time for protectionism. This is a time to compete and to show the world that America can compete with the best of them and win.
The President talked last night, as well, about attracting the best and the brightest, and the role that immigration has played in our country, and the role that immigration will continue to play in our country. We have the advantage over many other countries that we know how to assimilate immigrants. And we understand that throughout our history, immigration has brought new ideas, new innovation, new energy, and today should be no different.
So the President has called for a historic national focus on competitiveness and innovation; a national movement that should be taken up by every company in the country, by every community in the country. And he knows, as he mentioned last night, that we are well up to the challenge.
Thank you. And I'll turn it over to Secretary Bodman.
SECRETARY BODMAN: Thank you, sir. You already heard about our collective view about the importance of last night's remarks by the President. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the role that the Department of Energy will play in this competitiveness initiative.
To maintain our country's competitive edge we simply have to generate not just new technologies, but transformational technologies -- technologies that change the very nature of products. And that -- it's that act that will continue to provide for the dominance of our economic activities, for our science and for our technologists. Out of that will come the development of alternative sources of energy that, in fact, will lead to the decrease of our dependence on foreign sources of energy. And that is why the President has committed himself to doubling the federal spending in the combined offices of the National Science Foundation, the NIST activity in the Department of Commerce that you just heard about, and the Office of Science in the Department of Energy. That doubling will occur over the next 10 years.
Our people who deal in this area -- and they are the professional scientists and administrators of scientists -- truly believe that this is a historic opportunity for them and for our department. It is, in effect, a renaissance for United States science and global competitiveness. Our department's science -- or Office of Science is the major supporter of research and development in the physical sciences -- mathematics, physics and chemistry -- in the federal government; in fact, in the country. And we have had a growth under the President's leadership in overall research, but a large part of that has been in the life sciences. And if you look at the physical sciences and support for research in the physical sciences, it has been much closer to flat that increasing.
Our department maintains large-scale facilities and instruments that we build and operate, and out of that -- this is in our group of national laboratories that we manage -- from that, we have helped contribute to America's leadership in the key scientific fields that have dominated the last century, and that we believe will dominate the century that has just started. In this new century, those are the fields of biotechnology, nanotechnology, material science, and high-speed computation.
Now, to support this research, the Office of Science develops and nurtures a highly trained scientific workforce for the civilian economy and for national security, because there is a link, obviously, between energy availability, new sources of energy, and our national security. And this linkage between the private sector and the public sector that Secretary Gutierrez just talked about is also something that we find very compelling and an important part of what we do.
So I'm particularly pleased to take note that the competitiveness initiative that the President announced last night will allow us to support about 2,600 more researchers in fiscal year '07 than it will in '06. So it will translate itself into a material change in our ability to provide resources for supporting the scientific endeavor of our country.
Keeping America competitive also requires abundant and affordable energy. The President spoke about that last evening. Affordable energy requires technologies that will provide clean, reliable and economic solutions to the energy problems that confront us.
For example, sunlight provides, by far, the largest of all carbon-neutral energy sources that we have to work with. More energy from sunlight strikes the Earth in one hour than all the energy consumed on our planet in one year. So we have a lot to work with. Now, we're exploring a number of novel technologies in the Energy Department -- solar to electric; solar to fuels -- directly using solar energy to go directly to fuels; as well as solar to thermal conversions. And that's part of what we're endeavoring to do.
Fusion energy -- fusion energy on Earth can mimic the processes that power our sun. Fusion energy promises unlimited, safe and clean electricity for the world. It's a long way off, but we are starting that process, and have started the process over the last couple of years.
Other energy sources hold the promise of reshaping our transportation sector. Biofuels that are derived from plant cells, plant cell walls -- they're otherwise known as cellulosic ethanol -- could lead us from our current reliance on fossil fuels to clean, new domestic energy sources that we believe over time will transform our entire economy.
Now, these are breathtaking prospects. They really are -- I guess, overused the word historic -- we really believe that. They are very doable, but they're very difficult undertakings, these various initiatives that I've mentioned. Our department is committed to their success, and the President is committed to providing the resources that we need to accomplish our goals.
Science is inextricably linked to our country's economy. It has been for the last 50 years, and I dare say it will be for the next 50 or hundred years. The United States has the best scientific resources on the globe. This initiative will mean that we will maintain that leadership position with respect to the facilities and resources -- both the people and the equipment that's available.
I might mention here that we are very mindful of the question of congressionally mandated projects and support. Our department is challenged by that. And I would hope that our Congress would take to heart the President's request that we focus on those areas that we believe, after a lot of thought and a lot of attention, really will lead us in this direction, and that we not be hampered by individual projects and programs that have become all to great a part of our budgets.
The President's American Competitiveness Initiative will continue the dominance that our country has shown in the past -- will continue into the foreseeable future. I believe that that future will be a very bright one for science, and it will be a very bright one for the American people.
I thank you for your time, and I would ask my colleague, Elaine Chao, the Secretary of Labor, to finish up.
SECRETARY CHAO: One more.
SECRETARY BODMAN: Oh, two more, sorry.
SECRETARY CHAO: Thank you all so much for being here today, and I'm really so pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the importance of the President's competitiveness initiative to our nation's workers. And our nation's workers are our nation's greatest asset.
As the President said last night at his State of the Union address, the global economy is an opportunity for our nation to take steps to ensure our continued economic leadership. Helping our nation's workers succeed and feel more secure in this rapidly changing environment are among this administration's top priorities.
We can help by giving workers more confidence, choice and control over their skills, their health care, and also their pensions. And the President's competitiveness initiative addresses our nation's workforce challenges directly.
First, it makes a priority the reform of our nation's publicly funded workforce training system so that it can better serve workers. Second, the initiative would more -- would aim to more than triple the number of workers trained with public resources. And the goal is not just to process them through some system, but rather to actually train them for real jobs that exist in the 21st century workforce.
And this is so timely because 90 percent of the fastest growing jobs require some kind of post-secondary education and training. And over the next 10 years, there will be more than six million new and replacement job openings in engineering, in science, in technology, in computers, in health care, and other technical occupations that's going to really require a very strong foundation in math and science. And as you also heard from Secretary Bodman, we're going to see increased job creation in nanotechnology, spacial technology, life sciences, biotech. So we have to train workers, help train workers for these new jobs that are developing and that are desperately seeking workers.
And finally, the President's proposal for career advancement accounts will empower workers by providing them with self-managed accounts to choose the kind of job training that they're interested in and that they want. So this will replace the old one-size-fits-all kind of training approach that really doesn't take into account individual preferences and also local economic conditions.
This is a worker-centered strategy that's going to hold systems accountable for achieving concrete, measurable results for workers. And you might be interested to know also that I've just returned, along with several of my colleagues in the Cabinet, from a meeting of world economic leaders. And you might be interested to know that one of the greatest areas of concern is job creation, and how to match the skills of workers with the emerging opportunities.
Now, fortunately, our country is leading the way among major industrialized nations in terms of job creation. Germany and France have permanent unemployment rate in excess of 10 percent. And job creation in Europe has basically been stagnant over the last 10 years. In contrast, our country has produced 4.6 million new jobs since May of 2003; in 2005 alone, our economy has produced over 2.1 million new jobs. And our unemployment rate is 4.9 percent.
So the President's emphasis on job creation and worker training are once again right on target. And if his proposals are enacted, there going to ensure that our nation's workers will continue to be among the most competitive, creative, and productive in the world.
And so, with that, I'm going to introduce you to our last speaker, and that's Jack Marburger, who is the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology. Thanks so much.
DR. MARBURGER: Thank you, Madam Secretary. I will end up with a few more details, particularly on the science side. But I want to emphasize that this vision that the President portrayed last night in his speech integrates to an unusual, and I think, unprecedented extent the concept of an adequately prepared workforce with the role of leadership in science and technology that we have to have to maintain the vitality of our economy.
The vitality of our economy in the 21st century really demands that we manage as a federal government the investment in workforce and an adequately prepared workforce, and the tools that that workforce needs to maintain American preeminence in science and technology.
And we are preeminent. This year the President will request a record $137 billion for the R&D budget, which is substantially greater than any other nation. With 5 percent of the world's population, the U.S. employs about a third of all the scientists and engineers in the world. With 5 percent of the world's population, the U.S. funds in public and private sector together, about a third of all the research and development that is performed in the world. So we're ahead, but we know that we have to work to keep up, and to keep up our leadership.
So the President made a strong commitment last night to double within 10 years the budgets of the agencies that have the greatest impact on physical science, which is the infrastructure for all the sciences. The cost of this program over 10 years is $50 billion for the R&D part, but that's augmented by another program to make it possible for more companies to participate in the R&D tax credit. The President has called for years to make this tax credit permanent, and we hope that Congress will see fit to recognize the value of doing that and also improving it so that it's more accessible to more countries.
The major cost of this program for the first year will be in the cost of the tax credits, $4.6 billion. The cost of the doubling of the physical science research agencies, priority agencies is $910 billion in the first year, and extending out over 10 years, that amounts to $50 billion over 10 years -- a major investment in the research infrastructure of our nation.
I do want to say a word about these priority agencies. You've already heard about the Department of Energy and the NIST research program. The National Science Foundation is a major player in this program, the American Competitiveness Initiative. The National Science Foundation is the lead agency for two of the major physical science research programs in the nation, the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and the Networking and Information Technology R&D Initiative, both of which are interagency programs that are vital to the economic competitiveness of the future.
And I do want to support the call for the responsible management not only of these new funds, but of all funds that are identified for research and development for science and for those areas where we really know to make our investments in the wisest possible way. We understand the process of identifying priority programs -- peer review, merit-based reviews and assessments of proposals that come in from investigators across the nation with responsible panels and well-planned programs. That's the way to do it. The United States excels in the productivity of its research because it has excellent mechanisms for identifying the priority areas.
When Congress designates programs, sometimes those programs fit within those parameters, and sometimes they don't. The only way that we can assure the best possible application of these funds is by sticking to the peer review process and making sure that congressionally designated programs satisfy the requirements that we have for best practices. So the President made a strong call last night for Congress to avoid earmarking this program, and I think it's essential that we support him on this.
So thanks very much for your interest. We've had a lot of interest shown over the past year from numerous organizations. There's a great deal of unanimity in what the response needs to be. And I'm just absolutely pleased that the President has had the vision to bring us all together to produce an American Competitiveness Initiative that will respond to the needs of America and keep us strong into the future.
So thanks very much. I will turn it back to Secretary Spellings for questions.
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: We'll be glad to answer questions, any or all of us. So anyway, I'm the first one up, so any education questions? Yes, sir.
Q I didn't hear you talk about -- or at least in detail -- about the immigration aspects that he described last night. Can you tell us what exactly he's proposing as far as immigration changes?
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: Carlos, do you want to speak to some of that? For my part, I will say that, obviously, student visas are an issue for higher education institutions very much. And last -- a few weeks ago at the language -- Strategic Language Initiative, which actually is also part of the competitiveness initiative, in a way -- our need to be able to have more speakers of other languages around the world -- the President made a commitment to the higher education community to address the issue of student visas so that we make sure that we are encouraging talented young Americans to stay here and work in this country.
And, Carlos, beyond that, I'll --
SECRETARY GUTIERREZ: On the high-skilled immigration, the President has mentioned that we bring the best and the brightest to our country, we give them the best education that money can buy, and then we send them home so they can compete with another company. And what we're saying now is once they get the degree and once they get the best education in the world, let's find a way of keeping them here. So that's one aspect of it.
The President also mentioned last night low-skilled immigration, the need to enforce our laws, the need to have tighter control over our borders, and also the need to recognize that when there is a willing employer and a willing employee, a job that an American does not want to take, that we should be willing to issue a guest worker permit so that these folks don't have to come in, in the dark of night and hide. And it's just a matter of recognizing our reality that we are creating more jobs than what Americans can fill and what they want to fill. So it's actually a great testament to our economy.
Q If you look at the FY '07 numbers that were in the fact sheet, you've got $5.9 billion, okay? And then from what you all have said, I'm thinking that breaks down -- and I just want to double-check -- that that breaks down into the $4.6 billion on the tax credit for the R&D, and the $910 million for the education.
SECRETARY GUTIERREZ: -- $910 million for research.
Q I'm sorry, research. And then $380 million for education.
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: For education, yes.
Q So the money is education and the R&D and --
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: Tax credit, research and education.
Q Okay. Now, do you guys have those numbers for the 10-year thing, because it was $136 billion over 10 years. The R&D part of that is $86 billion. What about the education and --
DR. MARBURGER: The R&D part of that will be $50 billion for -- the research part of the $136 billion is $50 billion. And the difference between $136 billion and $50 billion is the amount associated with the tax credit and the first year of the education program.
Q So the education is one year?
DR. MARBURGER: The education program funding in this -- in the fact sheet numbers, has not been included in the out-years. That doesn't mean it will go back to zero, but that is part of the number that's in your fact sheet. I'm telling you where that number actually comes from, so it will add up.
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: In fact, let me say that the 70,000 number is a five-year commitment to get more advanced placement teachers in our classrooms; the 30,000 number to try to get additional folks with expertise into our classrooms is an eight-year number. So the President envisions a long-term commitment. The way we budget in education is on an annual basis, and the investment this year will be $380 million.
Q Can you tell me how you're going to spend the $380 million?
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: That information will be unveiled as part of the President's budget on Monday.
Q Following on that, are there going to be any incentives for people to join this adjunct teacher corps? And if not, how are they going to -- why would they sign up to teach?
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: Yes. There will be resources that will be revealed, maybe in the President's speech tomorrow, or on Monday. It's certainly part of the President's budget -- that will speak to the need to incent folks, baby boomers who are alive and kicking and in good health with a lot of expertise, to want to come and enter our classrooms, and that we would envision incentive programs to do that.
Q And likewise, for the advanced placement -- is that following the Academy recommendation to add $2,000 for advanced training, $100 per student for every successful --
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: We envision, actually, with the resources for advanced placement, that we would leverage those with state dollars, as well as private sector dollars. We think there's a way to get a real critical mass around those and bring advanced placement and international baccalaureate programs to scale. Unfortunately, now we have some of our high flyer best schools in America that offer a full complement of advanced placement, but those opportunities tend to be less available in inner-city schools. And we must change that.
And so we envision -- and certainly this is in keeping with No Child Left Behind's commitment, requirement to have a highly qualified teacher in every classroom, to offer more rigor, more broadly, and that we would provide resources and incentives to do that. In fact, later today I'll be going to Florida; I'll talk with Governor Bush tomorrow -- they are a very AP-friendly state and we envision states will very much be receptive to this notion.
Q Secretary Bodman, are those 2,600 researchers going to be mainly at the labs? And also, there are a number of things that were in the National Academy's report and in the PACE Act now sponsored by 69 senators that are not in this initiative. They wanted to double the R&D tax credit, as well as extend it, and also -- agency within the Department of Energy. Can you comment on why those were not included? And then the labs --
SECRETARY BODMAN: The employees will be both in the labs, as well as universities. So there will be support -- we not only support the laboratories, but also provide support for universities. So we'll be in both places.
There are a number of people that have stepped forward -- various legislators -- you mentioned the PACE legislation. There was a competitiveness initiative that various private sector organizations here in Washington sponsored. All of these were very welcome. They were -- they're initiatives, they're programs that we encourage. And we've made use, we believe, of the best inputs from all sources. The President has been very adamant on this subject since the day he took office. And the goal here has been to try to put resources to work in the best possible way.
So what has been presented to you and has been presented to the country last night by the President is an initiative that seeks to pick the best from a number of alternatives. There are some things that, frankly, we would like to do -- looking at it from a parochial standpoint -- but tradeoffs have to be made. These have been very tough times, as you know, from a budgetary standpoint. And I can just tell you that speaking for the Energy Department, but I also know for the National Science Foundation, and I think I can speak for Secretary Gutierrez on this, that we're thrilled with this emphasis on the physical sciences and on research in the physical sciences. And then we will work on this over time and see what additional components might be brought and made available.
Q Margaret, on the 30,000, are you talking about them as getting them certified as teachers, or bringing them into the classroom on some alternative certification? And if so, are there state-by-state hurdles to getting people like that into classrooms?
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: We believe that there are ways to provide part-time talent in our schools so that they have the necessary pedagogical skills, as well as that expertise. And we need to marry those things together. As I said earlier, we have many, many math and science classes that are taught by teachers who are not certified and out-of-field. And so we ought to access additional resources from the community.
We are seeing places around the country that are already experimenting with this sort of things. Yes, these are issues that are going to have to be addressed in the context of local bargaining agreements and state laws and rules. But just as we have done successfully with Troops to Teachers and Teach for America and other alternative certification programs, we believe there's a way to get the very best educational expertise coupled with a high degree of expertise so that students can benefit from that expertise.
Q Do you anticipate teacher union opposition to this?
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: Well, I haven't heard from them yet, but what I would say to them is that we have a crying need for math and science teachers. This has nothing -- this will not displace anyone. We need and will take all the certified math and science teachers we can get. The point is if we're going to run faster and keep up, we're going to have to access additional resources in the community. And those with expertise, whether they're at IBM and retiring, or a NASA scientist, ought to be able to find ways into our classrooms where they can contribute.
Q Is our Secretary of Education ill-equipped to help her own daughter with algebra? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: There's the point, Ken. We need a math initiative for grown-ups like me. I'm going to see you like that, Elaine. (Laughter.)
Q Can you explain how you got the 70,000 figure -- the number of 70,000 teachers that are needed? And how would that fit in with last year's program, the $1.5 billion high school initiative that was announced?
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: We believe -- the Nation at Risk, more than 20 years ago, called for the need to provide at least three years of math and science in every high school in America. And that is the number that it will take for us to get there to meet that requirement to have more math and science.
Likewise, as I said, we have models in the advanced placement program and international baccalaureate that are ways to do that quickly and efficiently so that we can get those teachers in place as quickly as possible, coupled with the adjunct teacher initiative.
Q I wonder if you could comment on what you see as the specific competitive threat posed by both China and India, and also just give a bit of context about why you're launching the initiative now.
SECRETARY SPELLINGS: Jack, you want to speak to that?
DR. MARBURGER: We're not responding to a threat; we're maintaining a leadership role. I believe the strength of this nation is such that all other countries are trying do it the way we do it, and the only way that we can maintain our leadership role is to do it better. So these initiatives that the President outlined last night are initiatives to strengthen the foundations that we understand, that are in place, and that can be more productive with additional resources.
Getting them to work together, making a long-term commitment that's based on a vision for a productive and leading role for the United States among these world economies is what it's going to take -- to galvanize the American people to pay attention to these things, study math, get parents to understand the importance of taking action at home to make these things work is what it's going to take.
So this isn't a specific response to a specific threat. We think that it's important for the people of China and India to have improved standards of living. We want them to be able to make products for their own society to consume, and we want to be part of that market, too. So this is not about going up against China and India. This is about leading the world with models and productivity that keep our society strong.
Q I am with TASS, the Russian News Agency, and what I am hearing here sounds to me like America against the world, which, as Mr. Marburger has just pointed out, is not the case. Many issues we are facing are global, and the President was talking about global issues. So my question to you, maybe to Secretary Bodman, Secretary Gutierrez, will you be using the help of your international partners, will you be coordinating with your international partners, especially maybe in the G8, because the G8 this year has similar priorities, to the energy, to health, to education, all of those?
DR. MARBURGER: In no sector of federal activities is international collaboration stronger and with a longer history than in the sciences. We have bilateral agreements with most of the G8 nations. We have an enormous collaboration on the facilities that Secretary Bodman's laboratories operate. We send our people back and forth from all nations to do their graduate work on these facilities. And we expect that to continue and even grow stronger. I personally meet twice a year with the G8 science ministers to discuss these issues, and we expect that this program will facilitate that.
Q And just if I could add one little thing, specifically the fuel cycle, nuclear fuel cycle. The idea of President Putin of creating international nuclear fuel cycle centers for services to everyone on equitable basis under strict international control. Obviously, it has very much relevance to what's happening in Iran. It may be relevant to what happens in the future in other parts of the world.
SECRETARY BODMAN: We will -- we have a great interest in advanced fuel cycles in the Department of Energy, as do, as you mentioned, a number of the G8 member nations. We will have a more detailed -- there are two things I might mention. One, there will be a more detailed discussion focusing on energy this afternoon, I believe at 2:00 p.m., where I will be along with the President's Economic Advisor, Al Hubbard. The two of us will be dealing with the press that are particularly interested in energy issues. And then we will release the budget, as will the other departments, on Monday morning, or Monday at noontime, I believe. And we will, therefore, be in a position to discuss in greater detail at those times the energy component of it.
But I will just comment that we have a great interest in it, and I think the combined efforts of all nations will be very important in order to make progress there. It's a very large undertaking, and we're very hopeful about it.
Q First, Secretary Bodman, are the 2,600 all at DOE or through DOE? And then, secondly, for Dr. Marburger, given the President's commitment to controlling the deficit, did these increases in discretionary spending come along with cuts elsewhere to pay for them?
SECRETARY BODMAN: First, in terms of the workers, as I mentioned before, they will be -- the individuals will become employees of the laboratories, the national laboratories, as well as students and faculty in universities that will benefit from support from the Department of Energy's Office of Science as a part of this.
Q -- as well as NIST?
SECRETARY BODMAN: No, that's just the Department of Energy.
DR. MARBURGER: Let me say that next week, when the budget comes out, you'll have access to science numbers across the board. But I do want to emphasize this is a prioritization exercise. This initiative takes the recommendations and actual consensus on the actual need to support physical science in these times as a foundation for future economic competitiveness, identifies these three agencies and makes a commitment to increase their budgets. It does not make that commitment for all of science. Some areas of science are quite healthy. Some areas of science are in special situations -- National Institutes of Health has received healthy increases and funding is maintained at a very healthy level in that area. NASA and other big science agencies have their own programs, and you'll hear more about those next week.
Q Secretary Chao, do you have any goals for job creation out of these various programs? Is there any way to say how many jobs you think would be created through the various initiatives that you're talking about today?
SECRETARY CHAO: Well, first of all, the government doesn't create jobs, the private sector does. And so the government has to create the environment in which job creation is optimized. And making the President's tax cut permanent is certainly one important factor in job creation. Reducing the volume of frivolous litigation is another. Tapping the various programs that the President has proposed for reducing the cost of health care is another. So right now the economy is producing about 200,000 jobs, on average, per month. So the economy is strong and it's growing stronger. It's not too hot, it's not too cold, it's just about right.
Q Dr. Marburger talks about how this is not designed to respond to the threat from China and India, although I think there are many Americans who do view that as a threat, or watch a Ford and a G.M. cut 30,000 jobs. So what do these programs say to those people?
SECRETARY CHAO: Well, as a Chinese American, as an American of Chinese descent, I have, perhaps, a special view about the competitiveness in a situation. As Carlos Gutierrez and I can both attest, we're immigrants to this country. I arrived at the age of eight; Secretary Gutierrez I think arrived a bit earlier. But our parents suffered a great deal to come to this country, because this country is the land of golden opportunity. And it is a land of golden opportunities, and we want to make sure that America remains the land of opportunity.
You know, we don't hear about people wanting to go to other countries. Rather, everywhere I go -- when I was Peace Corps Director, when I was United Way of America president -- the one question I heard is, "How do I come to America?" And so we want to make sure that America has opportunities. And the President's program, again -- on creating opportunity, on decreasing tax rates, decreasing litigious lawsuits that are plaguing our society -- is to ensure that the role of government is to, indeed, foster the environment in which job creation can occur will prevail.
END 10:56 A.M. EST
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