The US Senate on Wednesday passed a bipartisan bill that commits $280 billion over five years to the US semiconductor industry and scientific research in several strategic high-tech disciplines. The vote in favor of this financing, by 64 votes against 33, expressed the unity of Democrats and Republicans in favor of the intensification of the economic and military aggression of the United States against China.
The legislation, called the Flea Law and Science (CHIPS and Science Act), will provide $52 billion in grants and tax credits to chipmakers to develop or build new facilities in the United States and $200 billion for research into artificial intelligence, robotics and quantum computing and other technologies.
Seventeen Republicans voted with 47 Democrats to pass the bill and send it to the House, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it would pass quickly. President Biden said the law CHIPS and Science was a top priority of the administration and that he would sign her as soon as possible.
The alliance of Democrats and Republicans has backed a bill that directly expresses the US ruling establishment’s domestic and foreign policy goals for a great-power conflict with China.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (Democrat, New York), who has been working on the bill for three years, said semiconductor companies could fend for themselves “on their own” in the 1970s and 1980s. He added: “But in the 21st century, with countries like China and Germany investing heavily, we could sit on the sidelines and who would lose? American workers, American economic dominance and our national security”.
Schumer’s reference to American workers is, of course, entirely cynical. He knows full well that massive investment in America’s high-tech industries will benefit American companies and the Pentagon, not the working class. A reliable supply of advanced semiconductors is necessary for manufacturers of high-tech and “smart” weapons systems, as well as for the automotive industry and the computer industry in general.
Passing the bill in the Senate was not without typical Washington haggling. In order to win the endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican, Kentucky), Democrats have been forced to abandon any effort to reverse the Republican tax cuts that were signed by the President of the Republic. Donald Trump, in 2017. There were also negotiations with right-wing Democrat Joe Manchin (West Virginia), who backed McConnell on keeping Trump’s tax cuts that handed over trillions to the wealthiest sections of American society.
The only Democrat who opposed the bill, “independent” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, called it a gift to an already hugely profitable industry. Sanders was joined by right-wing Republicans like Sen. Rick Scott (Republican, Florida), who called the envelope “one of the rudest giveaways to corporate America I’ve ever seen.”
Sanders also criticized the semiconductor industry from the perspective of economic nationalism, saying, “Any company that’s willing to go overseas, that’s ignored the needs of the American people, will then say to Congress, ‘Hey. , if you want us to stay here, you’d better give us charity’”.
In a statement, Biden said the bill was a response to the state of the US economy and rising inflation. Coming to the strategic goal of the bipartisan measure, the US president said it would improve “America’s supply chains, so that we are no longer so dependent on foreign countries for the critical technologies we need to American consumers and national security”.
At the White House, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo voiced widespread concerns in ruling circles that the U.S. tech industry has ceded its leadership role to the Chinese. She said the United States’ share of global chip manufacturing had fallen from 40 percent to 12 percent, and the most advanced chips were all made in Taiwan.
Raimondo said the United States had “virtually nothing” invested in the semiconductor manufacturing sector, unlike China, which spent $150 billion on domestic capacity. The government had to provide subsidies, she added, in order to compete with other countries and incentivize companies to expand their production facilities.
The bill also contains provisions that prohibit any company receiving US funds from building manufacturing plants in China “or any other country of concern” for ten years after accepting the subsidies.
Sen. Roger Wicker (Republican, Mississippi) said the bill’s goal was US “technological supremacy” over China. Expressing the element of fear and desperation that underlies the recklessness behind the United States’ campaign for global military and economic hegemony, Wicker said: “Unfortunately, at this time, we are not in the driver’s seat. of a series of important technologies. China is. China and other nations increasingly dominate technological innovation, which poses a massive threat not only to our economy, but also to our national security.”
Among the companies lining up for government funding are Intel Corp, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, Global Foundries, Micron Technology and Applied Materials. The global semiconductor market reached $556 billion in 2021, with US companies controlling about 46 percent, or $258 billion.
In many ways, the semiconductor industry expresses the integrated nature of the global economy and modern society’s dependence on the fundamental systems that make electronic communications and digital technologies possible. Every segment of the economy as well as the daily lives of billions of people on earth are increasingly dependent on the development, supply and production of these increasingly miniaturized chips.
Any attempt to reverse the internationalized process that gave birth to these technologies, by bringing production back within the borders of a single nation, is a deeply reactionary and catastrophic undertaking. However, this is precisely the direction that US imperialism must follow to stem its historic decline and subordinate the entire world economy to its hegemonic interests.
(Article published in English on July 28, 2022)