2012 Republican Party Platform on Science

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Every 4 years, the Republican Party adopts a position meant to draw attention on key issues of the day. The 50 pages document is also an opportunity for different factions within a party to make public issues that might not receive so much attention from voters. Although science and technology don’t have a chapter of their own, there are references to it sprinkled throughout sections on natural resources, education and reforms.

  • Alternative energy gets a vote of confidence

The 2008 Republican Party Platform stated that alternate energy sources must become mainstream and the development of non-fossil fuels and electricity sources accelerated with the aid of other policies and taxes. In the 2012 version, the cost-effective development of renewable energy is encouraged as long as taxpayers do not serve as venture capitalists for risky endeavors. The approach towards renewable energy sources must be market-based, and alternative sources for electricity (solar, wind, hydro, tidal and geothermal) aggressively developed.

  • The immigration of scientists should be stopped

The 2012 Republican Party Platform pays more attention to the fate of the immigrants who study in U.S. universities and earn advanced degrees in science and engineering. These immigrants can be encouraged to remain here by the government if they are offered more work visas. According to the platform, the world’s innovators and inventors should make a permanent home in the United States so they can work on our common future.

  • Biomedical research supported, human embryonic stem cell studies rejected

The 2008 platform supported federal spending on biomedical research, especially in the neuroscience field which holds great potential for dealing with conditions such as Parkinson’s, autism and Alzheimer’s. The 2012 Republican Party Platform also supports biomedical research and stem-cell research with umbilical cord blood, adult stem cells and pluripotent stem cells, but rejects those which involve the destruction of embryonic human life or aborted fetuses. They oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and ban human cloning.

  • Unclear on human space flight

In 2008 the Republicans shared the vision of returning American astronauts to the moon and a future mission to Mars. The 2012 edition is unclear on the subject, praising the spectacular results made in the last decades by NASA, while warning that America’s leadership in space is challenged by many countries. In order for the country to preserve its national security interest, more science missions should be launched. However, there is no comment about the Obama Administration’s decision to cancel a future moon landing and to cut the funds for robotic missions to Mars.

  • The federal R&D credit made permanent

The platform calls for encouraging companies to develop more innovative technologies by creating a permanent tax credit for research and development. In the present, a federal R&D credit can be extended for just one or a few years, so that companies are able to deduct certain research expenses. This can create uncertainty for companies if they believe they can’t defray expenses, making them less likely to start risky projects.