Putting Our Chips on The Table


Putting Our Chips on The Table

We’d like to reward some vanishingly rare bipartisan political behavior by praising Congress for approving last week a $280 billion bill that seeks to expand the semiconductor industry in the U.S.

Computer chips are essential to modern technology, and modern technology is essential to almost every economic endeavor. But China has subsidized its semiconductor industry and gained a huge lead in the manufacture of semiconductors.

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The pandemic, which caused a shortage of computer chips, highlighted their importance to every facet of our lives, from automobiles to cellphones to medical devices to defense systems. The shortage contributed to price increases and supply chain disruptions, which, in turn, have contributed to surging inflation.

The Chips & Science Act of 2022 will spend $52.7 billion on the construction and expansion of semiconductor manufacturing plants, along with programs to speed research on the manufacture of chips and workforce training. The Senate approved the bill Wednesday by a vote of 64-33, with 17 of those votes coming from Republicans.

The measure cleared the House on Thursday, as Arkansas Business was going to press, also with bipartisan support, though partisan political considerations had threatened it. House members, however, apparently realized that computer technology, like energy, is too important to the U.S. economy, national security and the lives of millions of Americans to play games with.

We believe global trade contributes mightily to the health of the U.S. economy. But there are bad actors in the world — China and Russia come to mind — who do not have our best interests at heart, and the United States must do everything in its power to establish our independence from them, particularly when it comes to technology and energy. The Chips & Science Act is one such effort.