The U.S. government is leaving American companies out in the cold, undermining their ability to compete in a global marketplace, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation President Robert Atkinson said Thursday.
Atkinson said as opposed to many other countries, the U.S. government does not support its businesses enough. "Where's Uncle Sam?" he asked. For American companies to compete in the world, the U.S. government needs to take a more active role, Atkinson asserted.
Atkinson said lawmakers need to overcome partisanship and unite behind American businesses.
Speaking at the ITIF's Competitiveness Conference, Atkinson painted a bleak picture of America's place in the world. He cited a 2009 study that showed the U.S. was now sixth in the world for innovation according to a number of indicators.
For the first time, research and development spending has declined in the U.S., as have college attainment levels and the number of scientists and researchers, Atkinson said.
And in the rate of improvement in such innovation indicators, the U.S. ranks dead last out of the 40 countries surveyed. "In short, the U.S. is falling behind in the race for global innovation advantage," Atkinson said.
Atkinson called for more government investment in R&D and education; less regulation; a tax overhaul to lower taxes and create permanent R&D tax incentives; increased high-skill immigration; full funding for federal regulatory agencies; and tougher enforcement of trade agreements.
Atkinson criticized government officials for emphasizing environmental issues or human rights in trade negotiations, but not business concerns. He acknowledged the importance of such issues but said it is a waste of time without incorporating more economic focus.
"We harangue China on human rights but we don't harangue them on intellectual property rights," Atkinson said.