The sprawling America COMPETES Act of 2022 contains a lot of spending and nonsensical language. House Democrats have endorsed a 2,912-page bill to address supply chain problems and keep U.S. technology and manufacturing competitive. As Democrats are known for, this bill cannot address a single issue or just a handful of critical issues. It tries instead to include the government in every aspect of markets and industries, and pretends that bureaucrats are capable of solving complex cultural and social problems.
This bill, for example, addresses “combating sexual harassment of science”, to seeing more science grants go towards people who care. It also retains and advances women and minorities in tech and science careers.
The project is designed to combat Chinese fentanyl manufacturing, ecommerce platform liability and misinformation in foreign media. It also aims to address global wildlife trafficking. Legal conventions in Pacific Island Nations, Arctic mammal rescue abilities, coral research and the origins COVID-19 virus.
It prohibits shark fin fishing and driftnet fishery in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and transportation of some wildlife between states.
The money can be used to establish a Chinese language study fund, climate change initiatives and solar power. It also helps spread U.S. propaganda abroad.
How do these problems relate to American manufacturing or global tech competition? You can guess my answer as well.
The summary of the bill—dubbed The America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (America COMPETES) Act of 2022— is 20 pages long and the section-by-section summary is 109 pages long. While I’m not able to go through the entire bill, these documents give me a solid start for understanding how it works.
One worrying aspect is new liabilities for online marketplaces—something that could actually decrease the competitiveness of American tech companies. This would render e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Etsy and eBay liable for counterfeit products. If these companies do not adhere to a strict list of “best practices”, then they could be held responsible for any counterfeit products. This framework will replace existing case law, which states that a platform can only be held liable for the counterfeiting of third-party products if it “specifically knows of the infringement (typically through a notice given by a trademark holder) and fails take appropriate action,” as the bill summarizes.
America COMPETES will invest money in funding science education programs and government science offices.
Summary: The summary lists the first two items as $52 billion for “incentivizing” semiconductor production, and $45 billion towards “ensuring that more is”. [critical]Products are manufactured right here in America. Yet again, instead of eliminating government-imposed trade barriers and low prices and making it easier for free movement, Congress threatens to increase the problem by increasing U.S. borrowing and creating more protectionist policies.
ReasonEric Boehm of’s wrote about the issue of semiconductors last spring when it was first proposed by Democrats. As he noted, ensuring more domestic semiconductor production “dovetails nicely to President Joe Bidens pivot towards China as the post pandemic villain that will justify further expansions of government as well the emerging nationalist economy and anti-China sentiments in the political right.” It amounts to a huge handout to an industry that is profitable and doesn’t require government assistance, disguised as a national security argument which doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
America COMPETES Act authorizes billions to be used for items that Democrats have wanted since long.
The fund allocates $3 billion for “incentivizing new solar manufacturing capacities and providing grants or direct loans to retool and retrofit existing solar manufacturing plants.”
The legislation authorizes the Department of Justice’s antitrust division (DOJ), and Federal Trade Commission to spend millions on this year. The DOJ and FTC would be required to file more large mergers. This is in order to increase the money they can spend on antitrust enforcement.
It would authorise $500 million for the United States Agency for Global Media to continue and create programs to support local media in China.
It authorizes “$20 million per year through FY 2026 … to combat human trafficking through seafood import monitoring and strengthening international fisheries management.”
Instead of eliminating barriers for new medicines and medical technologies being brought to the U.S. markets, the bill will require manufacturers to jump through additional administrative hurdles, such as “requiring them to provide additional information”. [the Food and Drug Administration]Information about the manufacturing locations and how many drugs they make
It does not make it easier for U.S. universities to work with foreign partners. Instead, it requires reporting for those who “receive gifts” or have a contract with an entity with which the value exceeds $50,000.
Instead of simply beefing up cybersecurity and critical tech infrastructure, it “establishes a permanent advisory council” at the Federal Communications Commission “to increase the security, reliability and interoperability of communications networks”—which sounds a lot like what Democrats have been pushing in other bills with regard to tech companies and interoperability standards, even though mandating interoperability makes user data more vulnerable to security threats.
Instead of reducing all tariffs and duties, the plan would reduce them in certain areas but increase others. Under America COMPETES, “imports valued under $800 [coming]You cannot import into the United States from other countries without having to pay duties, taxes, and fees.”
This section is full of Cold War-style influence mashing. Section titled “Countering China’s Education and Cultural Diplomacy” directs Secretary of state “to develop a strategy to evaluate and expand existing people-to–people programs and create new exchanges and people–to-people programmes that advance U.S. Foreign Policy goals and support U.S. National Security Interests and Values.” The other section examines the effects of Chinese political-economic activity in Africa. A plan is developed to promote improvements in Africa’s investment climate, such as support for democracy, transparency, the rule and law.
Immigration is the only bright spot in the bill. America COMPETES Act provides “temporary protected and refugee status” for qualified Hong Kong residents. The 18-month period begins after the enactment. In addition, it authorizes admission of certain high skilled Hong Kong residents to special immigrant status. This amendment would allow startup entrepreneurs to bring their family members and employees to the United States on temporary visas. They can also petition to become lawful permanent residents. The amendment would allow certain immigrants (and spouses and their children) to be exempted from immigrant visa numerical limits. It will also permit them to obtain a doctoral in science or technology engineering or mathematics (STEM), from either a U.S. qualified research institution, or an equivalent foreign university degree.
Students are less excited about banning controversial speakers on campus.Knight Foundation releases a report that examines college students views on free speech. The Knight-Ipsos College student Views of Free Expression and Campus Speech is fourth report in the series of Knight Foundation reports that measure college student attitudes towards speech and First Amendment. Knight Foundation requested Ipsos conduct this survey. It included a nationwide representative sample of 1,000 college students, ages 18-24, enrolled at all types of higher educational institutions. This report will provide insight into the college student’s views about free speech compared to those of the general population. The whole report can be accessed here. These are just a few of the interesting facts:
- Campuses that ban controversial speakers are not as popular with students. “Just one in four students prefer schools to ban controversial speakers. That’s down from over 2 in 5 in 2019,
- Students are increasingly sceptical about the security of free speech rights. The Knight Foundation reported that “the percentage of students claiming speech rights are secured has decreased every year since the first time this question was asked in 2016”. “This includes a 12-point decrease from 2019 as an increasing number of students—particularly Republicans—say they believe speech rights are threatened.”
- Student attitudes to free speech are contradictory and sometimes conflicting. “More students say the campus climate prevents them from saying offensive things, while fewer feel at ease disagreeing in class. A little more students feel unsafe now because of the comments that are made on campus in 2019 than in 2019.
New research refutes state-funded prekindergarten programs.Dale Farran (study co-author, Vanderbilt Professor) said “At the very least it turns out to be better for poor children that something isn’t better than nothing.” Long-term, the pre-K programs our poor kids are getting aren’t beneficial for them.
“By the end of sixth grade, the children in the study who had been randomly selected to attend the state’s pre-K program were more likely to be referred to special education services than their peers who had not secured a spot in the program”https://t.co/hG7I2BzSED
— Alexander (@alexanderrusso) January 25, 2022
The devastating new findings on the effect of pre-K state-funded programs are shocking.
There are few stronger studies than multi-year, longitudinal follow-ups and random assignment in policy.
— Samuel Hammond ???????? (@hamandcheese) January 25, 2022
• “Democrats in the House of Representatives are planning to expedite a massive bill that would dramatically increase U.S. security assistance to Ukraine and lay the groundwork for substantial new sanctions on Russia — hastening a war-friendly posture without opportunity for dissent as concerns over a military invasion abound,” reports The Intercept.
• We shouldn’t exaggerate what’s at stake in Ukraine, writes Reason‘s Natalie Dowzicky. The ‘liberal order of the world’ does not require war against Russia in regard to the Donbass.
• Showing a fake vaccination card could become a crime in Washington state.
• “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, CBP officers across the nation have seized more than 30,000 counterfeit coronavirus vaccination cards,” Grid reports.
• Kat Rosenfield laments that we’re all COVID cops now.
• How U.S. abortion laws compare to abortion policy around the world.
• On Podcast on the Oldest ProfessionKaytlin Bailey discusses the problems with Nevada’s legalization of sexwork by brothels.
• What Japan got right about pandemic responses: “Drastic measures, such as lockdowns, were never taken because the goal was always to find ways to live with Covid-19,” writes Hitoshi Oshitani, a virology professor at Tohoku University who helped formulate Japan’s COVID-19 response.
• “The current stereotype of Gen X as politically apathetic do-nothings simply does not match the reality, at least in terms of their youth,” writes Freddie deBoer in a piece challenging the idea that today’s politically engaged young people are somehow unique.
• A new study finds “virus-fighting antibodies capable of blocking the omicron variant persist four months after a third shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine,” The Washington Post reports.
• “What left-wing progressives and right-wing populists miss in their regulatory frenzy is that antitrust laws have not been used intentionally to destroy success, as they are being deployed now,” writes Bret Jacobson at Clear, real policy. Their goal has been to maintain competition on the market for many decades. This is what makes [Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy]Klobuchar [Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck] Grassley’s legislation”—more on that here—”so, in a word, weird.”
• “Authoritarian governments ban Bitcoin mining. Andrea O’Sullivan believes that the U.S. shouldn’t be a part of them.
• Justin Amash has a new podcast.