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Renewal of Research Tax Credit: What’s that you say, Lassie? The barn door’s open and the horse is gone?!

Today, the New York Times is reporting that Obama is planning to pitch making the Research Tax Credit permanent:

As part of his pre-election push to spur the slumping economy and his party, President Obama this week will ask Congress to increase and permanently extend a popular but costly tax credit for businesses’ research expenses, and to pay for it by closing other corporate tax breaks, according to administration officials.

Mr. Obama is planning to outline the $100 billion proposal on Wednesday in a speech in Cleveland on the economy. The White House chose the venue partly to draw a contrast with a recent economic address there by Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader who would probably become House speaker should his party win a majority in November.

I had no idea there was a tax credit for research or that it had expired in 2009.  I thought the reason that all my friends and colleagues were getting the ax was because the guys with executive hair were following each other like lemmings to Massachusetts to roam the halls of MIT in search of “get-rich-quick!” schemes. (This American Life, Million Dollar Idea, Act One, Going Up!)

But now I see it’s really because our executive in chief was so busy accepting Nobel Prizes prematurely for work his Secretary of State is actually doing that the news that scientists with technical expertise and the right kind of training for the 21st century were losing their jobs just kinda flew under the radar.

And now that we’ve *almost* lost a generation of chemists to Chindia, with the limit approaching minus infinity that those jobs are ever coming back, NOW Obama decides to renew the tax credit.  I don’t know how it’s all going to be put back together now that it’s been torn apart.  It takes years of experience to understand the nature of our work.  There are no shortcuts for good science.  But those years have been interrupted constantly by mergers and acquisitions and consultants and Fear, Uncertainty and Dread and the expiration of a $100 billion tax credit that would have multiplied itself several times over in the hands of salaried scientists.

It’s better than nothing but it doesn’t replace a deep and abiding committment to real innovation and research.

Which we don’t have.

Hmmm, maybe the Democrats are realizing that they need all of those newly emancipated R&D wage slaves after all…

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