Clinton fuels R&D for jobs and progress

February 6, 1998

THE CLINTON administration is proposing to spend $170 billion (Pounds 106 billion) of government money on research and development in the next five years, billing its "21st Century Fund" as the new wellspring of jobs and progress.

The White House budget for 1999 includes funding increases well above inflation for medical research carried out by the National Institutes of Health, and non-medical research funded by the National Science Foundation.

The budget seeks dramatically increased spending on efforts to counter the greenhouse effect, up to more than one billion dollars a year, reflecting the US focus on global warming. It would boost spending by 30 per cent on a high-speed successor to the Internet.

President Bill Clinton sent the Congress the first balanced budget in nearly 30 years. His figures rely heavily on funds from a new cigarette tax and compromises will be needed to win the backing of the Republican majority in Congress.

In education, the proposed budget marked a shift in priorities from higher to secondary education. Two years ago President Clinton was talking of universal access to the first two years of college and touting his "Hope Scholarships".

This year he balked at bumping up student aid further. Instead, the focus is on recruiting 100,000 more teachers and building thousands of new classrooms in a bid to reduce class sizes in schools, particularly in the early years.

University researchers can take comfort from the planned boost in research. "The budget, though in balance, reflects the nation's priorities, and one of those priorities is science and technology," said Vice president Al Gore, the likely Democrat presidential candidate in 2000, who has made technology one of his specialities.

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