For too long, national debates on science and technology (S&T) policy have been conducted as a footnote to budget debates. Nagging and important issues, fundamental to the conduct and future of our national research and development (R&D) enterprise, have been left to languish while Congress debates artful accounting exercises that do not pencil out, budgets that are really Trojan horses for someone's ideological social blueprints, or "feel-good" proposals to increase spending on R&D that have no basis in budgetary reality.

Left neglected by this myopic fixation on the need to balance the federal budget-a need generally recognized as a political and not an economic imperative-is a complicated set of issues affecting national S&T policy that requires immediate attention. The problem confronting the public- policy apparatus is akin to a transcendental equation. We are being asked to set a policy on S&T to lead the United States-and by inference much of...

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