President-Elect Faces Numerous Critical Issues


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President-Elect Faces Numerous Critical Issues

President-elect Barack Obama is coming into office during one of the most difficult times in our nation’s history. Two wars, an economic recession, and a record deficit are among the critical issues that he faces. There are several issues related to the economy that Obama and the new Congress likely will address during the “First 100 Days” that are relevant to SEMI members.

Economic Stimulus

The economy is front and center in the Obama transition team’s policy planning and the Congress is working now to determine what should be included in the next economic stimulus package. President-elect Obama has said that passing an economic stimulus package will be one of the very first things he does as President. The congressional leadership plans to consider a stimulus package as soon as possible after the new Congress is sworn into office in January, rather than waiting until after the Inauguration to begin work in earnest as had been the tradition.

Many in Washington are weighing in on what the next package should look like. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) both have said recently that the economic stimulus package should contain some “green” provisions. SEMI is actively engaged in this debate and is meeting with Members of Congress to discuss possible solar energy provisions. SEMI also supports efforts within the business community to urge approval of tax policies that could help stimulate the economy by boosting the bottom-line for many companies and help make them more competitive.

Appropriations and R&D Funding

The federal budget will take the spotlight early in 2009. The Continuing Resolution to fund federal agencies for FY 2009 expires in early March, thereby leaving funding levels for March through September as yet undetermined. And, the new President will be expected to release his proposed budget for FY 2010 on February 2— just 13 days after the Inauguration.

Key science agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology are funded now at FY 2008 levels, well below what President Bush and Congress had initially approved for this year. SEMI expects that the tight budget environment will continue to affect R&D investments at NSF and NIST, so we are working with our partners in Washington to build more support for federal investments in these important innovation agencies.

Energy

Now that the solar energy investment tax credit has been extended for eight years, SEMI is working with our member companies to set the next public policy priorities for solar energy. Incentives for alterative energy may be included in the economic stimulus package. President-elect Obama is expected to push for additional and more favorable incentives for renewable energy. His energy platform focuses on creating green jobs and an investment of $150 billion over next ten years into renewable energy. In Congress, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee will play key roles in the development of climate change and other energy related legislation. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) chairs the Senate committee and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) will become the new chairman of the House committee.

For more information on how SEMI is involved, contact Ken Schramko at kschramko@semi.org.