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Can the CHIPS Act heal the nation’s economic divides?


The CHIPS and Science Act—the sprawling technology package Congress passed last week —has been called many things.

What started as the Endless Frontier Act became the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, then the COMPETES Act, the Bipartisan Innovation Act, CHIPS-Plus, and finally, the CHIPS and Science Act.

Along the way, some senators called the bill a way to “out-compete” China , while others called it a foray into industrial policy . More recently, congressional leaders merged an array of broader innovation items into the bill, centered on $52 billion in subsidies to U.S. semiconductor manufacturers. In short, the bill stands out as a potential landmark in U.S. competitiveness policy .

Yet for all of its many elements, the CHIPS and Science Act also stands out in a different way: as a milestone for policies to ensure that underrepresented people and places can participate more in the nation’s innovation economy. It affirms social and spatial inclusion as central to American strength.

The bill’s bipartisan passage forecasts the most significant and necessary government intervention in the industrial economy in decades. Coming now will be sizable infusions of federal money (around $200 million) into university R&D and technology development, supply chains, and STEM education.

However, what’s equally […]

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