Thursday, November 04, 2010

The recent US election and S&T for Development

Someone asked me what the effect of Tuesday's election results would be on the U.S. efforts to promote science and technology for development. The question is out of my league. Will the new alignment result in gridlock or more negotiation in the Congress? Will the new team be able to improve the economy? How will foreign policy evolve? I can't answer any of those questions.

The Congress has budget power, and the budget for science and technology and for foreign aid will depend not only on the general policy of the government, but on the decisions that come out of specific congressional committees dealing with foreign policy and science and technology. There will be a process by which the new Congressional committee structures are determined, and until that is completed it will be hard for even experts on the Congress to predict how those committees will be likely to act.

There are reasons to hope. Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed support for efforts to strengthen science and technology. Both have expressed strong support for foreign aid and indeed for increases in the U.S. foreign aid budget. John Boehner, who is expected to be the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, although the man who embodied the "Hell No" policy of the Republican House for the last two years, was seen as a deal maker in the Bush administration on the development of education policy and legislation; in that instance there was again agreement between Democrats and Republicans that the educational system had to be improved and that the federal government should play a role contributing to that improvement. We can hope!

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